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Senator Wants To Strip NRA’s Gun Training Authority

Sen. Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, speaks during a news conference in October in Tonawanda. Submitted photo

Legislation has been introduced in the state Senate to strip the National Rifle Association of its authority to grant certificates to gun safety course instructors.

Sen. Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, instead wants to have that authority vested solely with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The move comes as the NRA finds itself embroiled in a legal battle with state Attorney General Letitia James.

Ryan wrote in his legislative justification that the NRA no longer focuses on gun safety and has instead become an “extremist organization” that focuses on political advocacy rather than weapon safety.

“After numerous incidents of gun violence, instead of supporting reasonable gun safety measures, the NRA has pursued an extreme political agenda focused on overturning gun safety laws here in New York and across the nation. Through its conduct as an organization, the NRA has proven to no longer be an authority on gun safety.”

S.9601 would also still allow a duly commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to serve as a duly authorized instructor as well as qualified people designated by the state DEC or state 4-H certified shooting sports instructors.

“As the entity that collects and analyzes a variety of data on crimes and criminal activity in the state, DCJS possesses a deep understanding of the nature of crime, who commits crimes, and why. They are a non-law enforcement entity, but they regularly share information with a variety of state entities. DCJS will be able to provide certification to individuals and determine those who are well-suited to receive certificates indicating that they understand gun safety, and can be allowed to obtain a concealed carry permit.”

The NRA has been in James’ legal crosshairs since 2020, when she first filed a lawsuit accusing NRA executives of using the organization’s money on personal expenses that include trips to the Bahamas, African safaris and cruises. The NRA also recently saw a judge dismiss its efforts to dismiss the suit.

It has taken years for the case to get to trial, however, as the sides have filed additional claims and countersuits. The NRA filed a counterclaim against James claiming the original lawsuit was politically motivated, but that suit was dismissed in June. James has lost a suit seeking to dissolve the NRA.

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