The National Rifle Association sued the city of Los Angeles Wednesday, challenging a recently enacted ordinance requiring city contractors to disclose any ties they have to the gun-rights group.
The ordinance, approved by the City Council in February, does not ban NRA-connected contractors from doing business with the city but requires them to disclose any contracts or sponsorships they have with the organization.
In its 21-page federal lawsuit, the NRA alleges violations of the First Amendment and contends the ordinance intends to “silence NRA’s voice, as well as the voices of all those who dare oppose the city’s broad gun-control agenda.”
But City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who originally introduced the ordinance, called the suit “an act of desperation by an organization in trouble.”
The NRA claims in the lawsuit that by enacting the ordinance, “the city hopes to pressure NRA supporters and members to end their relationships with NRA, reducing NRA’s funding and support. Indeed, the city’s goal is to diminish NRA’s political contributions, its membership numbers and ultimately its pro-Second Amendment speech.”
The lawsuit further alleges that should defendants succeed in cutting off the NRA’s revenue streams “necessary for NRA to continue engaging in protected speech and association, NRA will have been drained of its financial resources and been harmed in its ability to fulfill its mission to protect and preserve the right to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA claims the city is trying to “silence NRA’s voice, as well as the voices of all those who dare oppose the city’s broad gun-control agenda.”
The lawsuit also claims City Council members “have made disparaging, false and hyperbolic statements about NRA and its supporters, suggesting that the organization is doing something unlawful or immoral. The city has a history of pressuring businesses that seek to do business with the city to end relationships with NRA.”
The complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting enforcement of the law, damages and costs, including attorney’s fees.
The City Council approved a similar ordinance in 2017 requiring contractors or prospective contractors to disclose whether they submitted bids to work on President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. Although it did not ban those contractors from working with the city, the ordinance sent the message that Los Angeles would be unlikely to hire a contractor with ties to the wall.
O’Farrell said Wednesday the city ordinance merely requires disclosure, but “the city’s procurement procedures have not changed, nor are there mechanisms for the city to take the information into account when deciding on a contract.”
“The NRA promotes extremism and violence to rally its base and sell enough lethal weapons to fund their fight against sensible gun safety legislation at every level of government,” O’Farrell said. “They hide behind their perverse interpretation of the Second Amendment to do so. The NRA’s First Amendment rights remain firmly in place while the city chooses to exercise its own rights to require disclosing who has ties to the NRA, so residents of Los Angeles know how and where their tax dollars are being spent.”
O’Farrell’s original motion calling for the ordinance stated that the city has historically enacted ordinances in support of gun safety without objection. It also said 1,600 mass shootings have happened in America since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, citing the Gun Violence Archive, which quantifies a mass shooting as when four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.