When Kathy Hochul campaigned for reelection in 2012 to the NY-27 congressional seat, which she eventually lost to Chris Collins, Hochul sought and obtained the support of the National Rifle Association.
The NRA PAC donated $7,000 to Hochul's campaign and only $1,000 to Collins.
Times have changed. In 2018, Hochul, now lieutenant governor in New York, seems to be rooting for the NRA's demise.
On Friday, using her personal Twitter account, Hochul retweeted a statement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was also using his personal account, celebrating New York's apparent success in driving the NRA to the brink of financial ruin. Hochul's response? "good riddance!"
Asked about the tweet, Hochul released this statement:
“The NRA actively worked against my last campaign in 2014, because I’ve been a consistent supporter of common sense gun laws, including Governor Cuomo’s SAFE Act, some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. Simply put, the NRA’s extremist and unlawful actions are promoting violence and threatening the lives of people in New York and across the country. The Governor and I continue to fight for common sense gun safety measures to prevent violence and save lives.”
Campaigning in Genesee County in 2012, Hochul told SCOPE members, "When a bill comes up that affects your Second Amendment rights, I’m on your side."
Shortly after the meeting, Hochul, based on a year in Congress, received an A rating from the NRA.
"Some of you may say I have a 'D' after my name and I can't vote for you," Hochul said that night during the meeting at Calvary Baptist Church on Galloway Road in the Town of Batavia. "Well, fine, but I still represent you. I am independent and I look at each and every issue as what's best for the people of Western New York. Sometimes the Democrats are right and sometimes they're really wrong. Sometimes the Republicans are right and sometimes they are really wrong."
After receiving Hochul's statement, The Batavian emailed her staff and asked for clarification since her statement referenced the 2014 campaign and she was endorsed by the NRA in the 2012 campaign.
A spokesman called The Batavian and said he wasn't authorized to speak for Hochul for attribution but stressed Hochul still supports Second Amendment rights but that her views of the NRA have changed. He said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to try to speak for her to explain why. She wasn't available for further comment.
A lot has changed in the world of gun politics since 2012. In December of that year, 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. There have been several other mass shootings, including in San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Parkland in the years since. The nation is perhaps more deeply divided over gun laws than ever before.
Since then, the NRA has opposed banning bump stocks, raising the age on gun purchases, and has sent mixed signals about its position on so-called "red flag" laws, while NRA members and representatives have belittled survivors of Parkland, threatened other gun control supporters, and even advocated violence against journalists.
Bill Fox, president of Genesee County SCOPE, remembers the night Hochul spoke to local gun owners. She was passionate about her advocacy for gun rights. Now, he says, "she's not a friend of the Second Amendment."
Where Hochul called for "common sense" gun laws, Fox said he doesn't even know what that means.
"What is common sense?" Fox said. "There are thousands of gun control laws on the books already. What does common sense mean? If you're a criminal, you're still going to get a gun."
Fox said he's also a proud NRA member and he's disappointed in Hochul's support of the SAFE Act.
"She stood there and told us how her family hunts and how she supports gun rights and now she supports the SAFE Act," Fox said.
Fox thinks Cuomo's true aim isn't gun control but gun removal.
The financial difficulties faced by the NRA stem from efforts by New York to stop the NRA from selling insurance to conceal carry permit holders called "Carry Guard."
New York officials contend the insurance is illegal because it provides financial assistance to people who engaged in "intentional wrongdoing."
The bottom tier insurance plan provides $250,000 in civil liability coverage to a person who discharges a firearm and $50,000 for criminal defense, but according to the NRA website, the policy will only pay out a defense claim if the policyholder is acquitted. There is no coverage if a person fires a gun, is arrested, and is convicted of a crime.
Some gun control advocates support requiring mandatory insurance policies for gun owners.
New York's efforts to stymie the insurance program seem to have far-ranging effects, causing financial difficulties for the NRA with insurance carriers and financial institutions. The NRA has warned in a lawsuit filed against New York that it is facing insolvency because of the state's regulatory actions.
Hochul is engaged in a tough primary campaign to retain her lieutenant governor post against a Downstate progressive challenger Jumaane Williams. Hochul has a slim lead, according to a recent poll.