© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters, in Fairfax

By Jan Wolfe and Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – The National Rifle Association on Friday filed petitions with a U.S. bankruptcy court seeking protection from creditors by restructuring, the gun rights advocacy group announced.

The NRA filed the Chapter 11 petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, it said in a news release.

The NRA said it would restructure as a Texas nonprofit to exit what it said was a “a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” state, where it is currently registered.

The influential group said in a statement there would be no immediate changes to its operations or workforce, and that it “will continue with the forward advancement of the enterprise – confronting anti-Second Amendment activities, promoting firearm safety and training, and advancing public programs across the United States.”

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.

Last August, New York state Attorney General Letitia James sued to dissolve the NRA, alleging senior leaders of the nonprofit group diverted millions of dollars for personal use and to buy the silence and loyalty of former employees.

The lawsuit filed by James in a state court in Manhattan alleges NRA leaders paid for family trips to the Bahamas, private jets and expensive meals that contributed to a $64 million reduction in the NRA’s balance sheet in three years, turning a surplus into a deficit.

The NRA responded by suing James, a Democrat, in federal court, saying she had violated the NRA’s right to free speech and seeking to block her investigation. The litigation remains pending.

The NRA in recent decades has been one of the leading voices opposing proposed or existing gun control measures.

The NRA’s actions will likely put the attorney general’s lawsuit on hold, and a reincorporation could strip her of the ability to seek the group’s dissolution. In her lawsuit, James had said the NRA’s incorporation as a nonprofit in New York gave her authority to dissolve it.

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