Declaring bankruptcy, NRA says it will explore leaving Virginia

Pro gun-control demonstrators take aim at the National Rifle Association during a 2019 rally at the Capitol in advance of the General Assembly's special session on guns. (Robert Zullo/ Virginia Mercury)

As part of a major restructuring, the National Rifle Association says it will explore moving out of Virginia but for now will continue running its operations from its headquarters in Fairfax.

On Friday, the gun-rights group announced it would file for bankruptcy as it works to cut its ties to New York, whose attorney general had probed the misuse of NRA funds and sought to force the organization to dissolve, and reincorporate in Texas. Eventually, the Virginia headquarters might follow.

“With respect to its headquarters, the NRA has formed a committee to study opportunities for relocating segments of its business operations to Texas or other states,” the NRA said in a news release. “The association will analyze whether a move of its headquarters, now located in Fairfax, Virginia, is in the best interests of its members. In the meantime, the NRA’s general business operations will remain in Fairfax.”

With a longtime presence in Washington, D.C., the NRA built its Fairfax headquarters in the mid-1990s.

Since then, there’s been a profound political shift on gun issues in Virginia, once considered a solidly pro-gun state. Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam and the Democratic-led General Assembly passed a package of major gun-control laws, including expanded background checks, a red flag law and a restoration of the one-handgun-a-month rule.

Though it’s influence was limited with Democratic majorities, the NRA lobbied to block the bills. One of the most sweeping pieces of legislation under consideration — a ban on assault-style weaponry — failed to win enough Democratic support to pass.

Gun sales in Virginia surged in 2020, with many buyers seemingly fearful of threats arising from the coronavirus pandemic and widespread unrest over police killings.