Law & the Courts

NRA Sues San Francisco over ‘Domestic Terrorist Organization’ Label

Attendees at the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind., April 27, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The National Rifle Association filed suit Monday against the city of San Francisco in response to city’s board of supervisors labeling the gun-rights group a “domestic terrorist organization.”

The suit — filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the city and county of San Francisco, as well as the board of supervisors — claims the city violated the gun lobby’s first amendment rights by seeking to prevent any individuals or entities associated with it from doing business in San Francisco.

“This lawsuit comes with a message to those who attack the NRA: we will never stop fighting for our law-abiding members and their constitutional freedoms,” NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in a statement shared with the Washington Post.

The board of supervisors passed a resolution last week in response to the country’s “epidemic of gun violence,” that accuses the NRA of using “its considerable wealth and organization strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence.”

The resolution also declares the board’s desire to “limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization.”

It was drafted in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July in which a lone gunman killed three festival-goers and injured 17 others. Three mass shootings — in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and, most recently, Odessa and Midland, Texas — have occurred since then.

The San Francisco city attorney’s office responded to the NRA’s suit by suggesting the group focus its resources on preventing gun violence rather than retaliating against the city.

“The American people would be better served if the NRA stopped trying to get weapons of war into our communities and instead actually did something about gun safety,” John Coté, a spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, told the Associated Press. “Common-sense safety measures like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and restricting high-capacity magazines would be a good start.”

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