Tag Archives: N.R.A.

Video of N.R.A. Chief Wayne LaPierre Shooting an Elephant Draws Criticism

Author: Neil Vigdor
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Video of N.R.A. Chief Wayne LaPierre Shooting an Elephant Draws Criticism

The emergence of a video showing Wayne LaPierre, the polarizing head of the National Rifle Association, shooting but struggling to kill an African bush elephant during a 2013 hunting trip in Botswana drew criticism on Tuesday from conservation groups.

The awkward display — in which Mr. LaPierre shoots at the elephant three times at close range with a rifle while it is still alive after wounding it with an initial shot — was recorded for an outdoor television show that the N.R.A. once sponsored, but the video was never aired. (In the end, the host of the program fired the fatal shot.)

The video was obtained by The New Yorker and The Trace, a nonprofit website funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group co-founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has donated tens of millions of dollars to gun-control groups.

Later in the footage, Mr. LaPierre’s wife, Susan, can be seen shooting another elephant right between the eyes as it approaches her and the guides, who instruct her to fire a second round between its legs to make sure it is dead. She later cuts off part of the elephant’s tail to keep as a memento of the kill.

Just last month, African bush elephants, also known as savanna elephants, were declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or I.U.C.N., on the group’s Red List of threatened species. They were previously classified as vulnerable.

“It’s sickening to see LaPierre’s brutal, clumsy slaughter of this beautiful creature,” Tanya Sanerib, the international legal director and a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement on Tuesday night. “No animal should suffer like this.”

Andrew Arulanandam, a managing director of N.R.A. Public Affairs, confirmed the authenticity of the video in a statement on Tuesday night.

“The hunt was fully permitted and conducted in accordance with all rules and regulations,” Mr. Arulanandam said. “The video offers an incomplete portrayal of the experience — and fails to express the many ways this activity benefits the local community and habitat. Such hunts are celebrated in Botswana, where they feed villages, contribute to the economy and culture, and are part of the fabric of the region.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Ms. Sanerib said that despite the endangered status of African bush elephants, it is legal to hunt them, with a license, in certain areas of Botswana.

“We’re in the midst of a poaching epidemic,” Ms. Sanerib said, “and rich trophy hunters like the N.R.A. chief are blasting away at elephants while the international community calls for stiffer penalties for poachers — what message does that send? We need to halt all elephant killings or they’ll vanish forever.”

Kathleen Gobush, an affiliate assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington and a member of the African Elephant Specialist Group within the International Union for Conservation of Nature, also condemned Mr. LaPierre’s hunting of the elephant.

“There’s got to be a better way to conserve an endangered species than this — an inhumane show of dominance, and poorly executed at that,” Dr. Gobush said in an email on Tuesday night.

The surfacing of the video came just weeks after Mr. LaPierre, testifying in federal bankruptcy court, acknowledged that he had secretly taken the N.R.A. into bankruptcy as a way to thwart the New York attorney general’s attempt to shut down the organization. It also follows a recent spate of mass shootings and efforts by the Biden administration to curb gun violence.

In the video, Mr. LaPierre, dressed in an N.R.A. baseball cap, is led by guides through Botswana’s Okavango Delta toward an elephant. A guide tells him to wait before shooting, but he fires one round, seemingly unable to hear because he is wearing ear plugs.

The guides point to where he should fire another round to kill the elephant. Mr. LaPierre fires three more times at close range. But the fatal shot is fired by the program’s host.

Later in the video, after Mrs. LaPierre has successfully kills an elephant, she tells the video crew and the guides that she could see how old it was and how wrinkled it was.

“Victory,” she says, after following a guide’s suggestion that she cut off part of the elephant’s tail and keep it as a memento. “That’s my elephant tail. Way cool.”

N.R.A. Chief Takes the Stand, With Cracks in His Armor

N.R.A. Chief Takes the Stand, With Cracks in His Armor

Mr. LaPierre is seeking to use bankruptcy to help reincorporate the N.R.A. in the more gun-friendly state of Texas, and has already repaid the N.R.A. about $ 300,000 as he seeks to hold on to his job. Asked if he was disciplined for misspending the money, he said, “Yes, I was disciplined, I paid it back,” suggesting that at the N.R.A., discipline sometimes amounts to paying back money after you are caught.

Whether his bankruptcy gambit will work remains to be seen. To persuade Judge Hale that the N.R.A.’s petition should be rejected during a trial that started last week, lawyers for the attorney general, Letitia James, and for a major creditor — the N.R.A.’s former advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen — presented evidence that they said showed that Mr. LaPierre had sought bankruptcy protection in bad faith.

Proving that a filing was made in bad faith can be difficult because it means showing intent. But Monica Connell, an assistant attorney general, argued that Mr. LaPierre lacked the authority to take the N.R.A. into bankruptcy on his own and had used a “convoluted” ploy to get its board of directors to unwittingly grant the necessary authorization.

Rather than putting a bankruptcy resolution before the board, Ms. Connell said, Mr. LaPierre’s team asked the board to vote on a new employment contract for him. It looked like a reform measure, since it reduced his golden parachute.

But the contract contained an inconspicuous provision giving Mr. LaPierre authority “without limitation” to “reorganize or restructure the affairs of the Association for purposes of cost-minimization, regulatory compliance or otherwise.”

The new contract was first presented to a committee of the N.R.A. board in a closed session on Jan. 7. There weren’t enough copies to go around, and no one could leave with a copy. N.R.A. officials said board members had ample time for review.

By that time, Mr. LaPierre’s main outside counsel, the law firm of William A. Brewer III, had spent months planning the bankruptcy, racking up millions of dollars in legal fees. But no one told the board about that. After the committee emerged from its closed session, the board approved the contract, with little inkling that they had conferred bankruptcy authority on Mr. LaPierre.

Danny Hakim and Mary Williams Walsh