When I was a kid living in Washington, D.C., my two favorite places to visit was the FBI Building and the gun museum at the headquarters of the NRA. I loved going on the FBI tour because at the end of the tour you went into the firing range and watched one of the agents shoot off a fully-automatic machine gun. And then they would ask if anyone wanted to take home the spent shells! I had boxes of empty 45-caliber brass in my bedroom for years (my mother bless her soul, threw all that crap out.)
What I didn’t know back then was that even though the NRA’s home office was situated in Washington, D.C., in fact the organization was still registered as a non-profit in New York State. That’s because the NRA had been founded in New York State and operated a firing range out on the border of Queens and Nassau Counties, where a state mental hospital named Creedmore now stands.
The NRA moved down to D.C. sometime shortly before or after World War II. The home office was then relocated in a D.C. suburb, Fairfax, VA, sometime later on. When the sh*t started to hit the fan a couple of years ago with stories about financial mismanagement by Wayne-o and the gang, for the life of me I never understood why the organization didn’t move its non-profit registration to another state.
I ran several non-profit organizations in New York back in the 1980’s, and I can tell you that New York State even back then did a regulatory job on non-profits like no other place. They not only required every non-profit to file a state tax return, they also had rules on the percentage of money you collected which could be spent for anything other than the express purpose of the charity itself. I don’t think there was any other state that has ever imposed requirements on non-profit expenditures which are in any way as comprehensive as what exists in New York.
Not only does New York State tell every charity how much they can and cannot spend on salaries, travel, perks and so forth, the state also has a separate agency which watches the behavior of all charities to make sure that they operate on the up-and-up. Again, this is very much unlike other states.
You would think that at some point in the last 20 years as the argument over gun control grew more heated all the time, that the NRA would have simply filed its non-profit registration in another, less regulatory-minded state. Didn’t those guys in Fairfax remember that the current Governor of New York, Andy Cuomo, is the same Andy Cuomo who wrote and brokered the gun-control deal between he Clinton Administration and Smith & Wesson which almost put the gunmaker out of business and scared the sh*t out of the rest of the gun industry back in 1990-1991?
The NRA didn’t bring this suit on just because Wayne-o and a couple of his cronies allegedly couldn’t keep their hands out of the till. They brought it on by turning a blind eye to the fact that they are still operating in a state whose governor has compiled the strongest, anti-gun record of any state-level politician in recent years.
Want more proof? Just take a look at the New York SAFE Act that Andy pushed through the legislature one night after Sandy Hook.