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ACLU Sticks Up for the NRA?!

The official view of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) remains that the Second Amendment protects a "collective right rather than an individual right." But the organization nevertheless is helping the National Rifle Association (NRA) fend off extralegal attempts by New York state officials to put it out of business.
In a brief filed in federal court today, the ACLU argues that New York's strong-arm efforts to compel banks and insurance companies to ditch the NRA as a customer represent a glaring violation of the First Amendment.
"Although public officials are free to express their opinions and may condemn viewpoints or groups they view as inimical to public welfare, they cannot abuse their regulatory authority to retaliate against disfavored advocacy organizations and to impose burdens on those organizations' ability to conduct lawful business," the ACLU says.

The ACLU's amicus brief never says the group agrees with the NRA's positions on firearms. Instead, the group invokes a long series of First Amendment cases to argue that the regulators should not use their power in office to punish political enemies.

A timeline prepared by the NRA suggests the intimidation campaign began last fall. The anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety met with New York officials in September 2017; a month later the Department of Financial Services began an investigation that started with a company called Lockton, which administered the NRA-branded personal liability insurance program known as Carry Guard. Despite a 20-year relationship, Lockton responded by abruptly ditching the NRA as a customer in February; so did Chubb and Lloyd's.

Emboldened by this initial success, Maria Vullo, head of the state's Department of Financial Services, sent a pair of ominous letters to all banks, financial institutions, and insurers licensed to do business in New York. Vullo warned companies to sever ties with pro-Second Amendment groups that "promote guns and lead to senseless violence" and instead heed "the voices of the passionate, courageous, and articulate young people" calling for more restrictions on firearms. All companies receiving the letter, she advised, should "review any relationships they have with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations, and to take prompt actions to managing these risks and promote public health and safety."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo underlined the regulatory threat in a tweet the next day: "The NRA is an extremist organization. I urge companies in New York State to revisit any ties they have to the NRA and consider their reputations, and responsibility to the public.'"

Read more at http://reason.com/archives/2018/08/24/aclu-teams-up-with-nra