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The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the NRA’s rights to free speech

Protesters call for firearms control and protest against gun violence in the US (Via Joe Kimmich/ Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to discuss whether a former New York official can be responsible for allegedly violating the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) freedom of speech.

The NRA’s lawsuit comes from claims that Maria Vullo, who used to be New York’s financial services superintendent, pushed financial companies to cut ties with the NRA because of its support for gun rights, following the Parkland school shooting in 2018.

The main question is if Vullo misused her regulatory power to force financial firms to disconnect from the NRA, something the organization says went against its rights under the First Amendment.

The NRA, a non-profit group based in New York but headquartered in Virginia, argues that Vullo’s actions were a way to quiet its advocacy work.

Vullo’s part included encouraging banks and insurers to rethink their links with pro-gun organizations after Parkland.

Afterwards, her office imposed big fines on insurers offering NRA-backed products, saying they broke New York laws. This made insurers stop offering these products, making the NRA even more upset.

Case reflects broader tensions between gun advocacy and government oversight (Via John Parker/ Getty Images)

Although Vullo says her statements were okay, a federal judge dismissed most claims against her at first, but two free speech claims stayed. However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled for Vullo, making the NRA appeal to the Supreme Court.

The NRA’s lawsuit wants damages that are not specified and it’s getting attention because it shows the clash between gun rights advocacy and regulation.

Since the Supreme Court is mostly conservative, this case could change how we see free speech in cases where regulators take action against advocacy groups.

This adds to the debate about gun control in the U.S., especially after many mass shootings. The Supreme Court is set to make decisions on big gun rights cases, like the legality of “bump stocks” and having guns under domestic violence restraining orders, by June.

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