The National Rifle Association will have to appear for a regulatory hearing over allegations it violated New York law by marketing an insurance policy for shootings that critics have dubbed “murder insurance.”
A federal judge in Albany, New York, on Monday denied a request by the gun-rights group to block the July 29 hearing before the New York State Department of Financial Services. The NRA wanted to postpone the hearing until its lawsuit claiming the agency was singling it out for discriminatory enforcement was resolved.
U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy, who is presiding over the NRA’s suit, said the issues in the regulatory hearing were different from those before him.
“The subject matter of the administrative hearing is to determine whether the NRA violated the Insurance Law, not whether defendants retaliated against the NRA for its speech or whether Superintendent Vullo selectively enforced the Insurance Law against the NRA’s affinity-insurance programs,” McAvoy said, referring to former DFS head Maria Vullo.
The New York state agency claims the NRA acted as an unlicensed insurer in New York by marketing Carry Guard insurance to residents there in 2017. Carry Guard offers coverage for costs associated with the purposeful use of a firearm, including defending a possible criminal prosecution. Such coverage is illegal in New York, the regulator says.
The NRA sued in 2018 over the the enforcement action, claiming it was the victim of a political vendetta by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has frequently criticized the organization.
“DFS brought this proceeding in an effort to divert and suppress the NRA’s high-profile First Amendment lawsuit,” said William A. Brewer III, the group’s lawyer. “The Court didn’t enjoin DFS, but it affirmed what’s important: nothing DFS does in its star-chamber enforcement hearing can foreclose the NRA’s constitutional claims. The NRA looks forward to its day in court.”
The case is National Rifle Association of America v. Cuomo, 18-CV-00566, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York (Albany).
–With assistance from Erik Larson.
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