In legal circles, there’s a concept called “standing.” In other words, you have to show you’ve been harmed by a law before you can challenge that law. The idea is that it prevents random people from filing lawsuits to challenge any manner of law for whatever silly reason.
However, the problem is that now standing is a bit more thorny than that. Even people who may seem to have good reason to challenge are often found to not have standing.
And that’s what just happened to the NRA. In New York, unsurprisingly.
A federal judge says the National Rifle Association (NRA) has no standing to sue New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his order closing gun stores during COVID-19 because it is not an “essential” business, reports Reuters.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Mae D’Agostino also rejected subsequent NRA arguments that its ability to “conduct day-to-day advocacy for its members had been impaired” by Cuomo’s March 20 order.
The lawsuit was one of several filed by gun rights groups across the U.S. in reaction to shutdown orders on gun shops.
“Although we respectfully disagree that the NRA lacked standing to pursue this case — then or now — we were pleased the action brought attention to an abuse of power against gun retailers,” William Brewer, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement.
I’m sort of going to disagree with the NRA on this one.
You see, their ability to advocate for gun owners wasn’t really inhibited by the closures. It was a bogus argument from the start and it’s not surprising that the judge would toss it out.
However, I believe the NRA does have standing. Or, more specifically, there are reasons why their lack of standing is irrelevant.
You see, Cuomo’s order to shut down gun stores impacted two sets of people. One set is the gun store owners themselves. Obviously, they couldn’t earn a living, so they were negatively impacted.
The other set is the people interested in buying a firearm, but who were unable to do so because all the stores were closed.
Yet the NRA often represents the interests of both groups. Through their advocacy for gun rights, they defend not just gun stores but gun buyers, so they are kind of the perfect organization to file this lawsuit.
Especially in a state that’s really very hostile toward the idea of civilian ownership of firearms. After all, take a look at Cuomo’s anti-gun rhetoric. He’s ready to try and wreck an entire industry because of his personal beliefs. Or, conversely, look at Attorney General Letitia James and her ill-advised lawsuit against the NRA.
It’s not difficult to imagine that a law-abiding citizen would be fearful of filing a lawsuit against the state under such circumstances. Hell, I’d be hesitant.
But New York is already doing everything it can to the NRA. There’s nothing more it can try, really, so the NRA is the perfect entity to try and take them on. While I understand the judge’s decision and, based on my layman’s understanding of the law, it’s the right one, it really shouldn’t be.