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NRA loses federal appeal over New York gun store closures

Second Amendment


By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled against the National Rifle Association in the gun rights group’s lawsuit challenging New York state’s closing of gun stores early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the NRA’s bid for an injunction was moot because there was “no reasonable prospect” of more closures, after the state legislature curtailed the governor’s power to impose COVID-19 restrictions.

The appeals court also refused to award nominal damages, saying the NRA lacked standing to sue on its members’ behalf, and that sovereign immunity under the U.S. Constitution’s 11th Amendment barred claims against state officials.

Lawyers for the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which represented the state, did not immediately respond to a similar request.

The NRA had sued over a March 2020 executive order by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo closing gun stores because they were “non-essential businesses.” It said the closures violated the Second Amendment and other constitutional provisions.

A federal judge dismissed the NRA’s lawsuit in August 2020, and Cuomo’s order was later rescinded.

Cuomo resigned as governor in August. His successor, Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, is seeking a full four-year term next November.

The NRA, a New York nonprofit, is separately defending itself against a lawsuit by James seeking its dissolution and the ouster of longtime Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.

James, a Democrat who is also running for governor, has said the NRA is racked by corruption, including by diverting millions of dollars to LaPierre and other insiders.

The NRA has rejected James’ claims and called her lawsuit politically motivated.

The case is National Rifle Association of America v Hochul et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-3187.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)



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