Who is the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre?

New York’s Attorney General announced Thursday that after an 18-month investigation her office is seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association.

Attorney General Letitia James said that the investigation into the operations of the NRA found that the gun rights organization is “fraught with fraud and abuse.”

James claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the organization lost more than $64 million over a three-year period due to financial misconduct by the association’s leaders.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

While the suit names the NRA as a whole, James specifically named Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former CFO Woody Phillips, and former chief of staff Joshua Powell in the complaint that alleges the misuse of charitable funds for personal gain, the awarding of contracts to friends and family, and the issuance of contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty.

The New York attorney general’s office was able to bring suit to dissolve the NRA because the organization is registered in New York.

The organization has been a constant lightning rod for controversy as the country has seen an increase in mass shootings, particularly at schools. Much of that attention has landed on LaPierre.

Who is Wayne LaPierre? Here are a few things you may not know about him:

  • Wayne Robert LaPierre Jr. was born on Nov. 8, 1949, in Schenectady, New York. His family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, when he was 5 years old.
  • He was raised a Roman Catholic.
  • He spent a good portion of his career as a lobbyist prior to becoming head of the NRA.
  • He volunteered for the 1972 presidential campaign of Democrat George McGovern.
  • He earned a master's degree in government and politics from Boston College.
  • He has served on the boards of the American Association of Political Consultants, the American Conservative Union, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
  • LaPierre became executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NRA in 1991.
  • In 1995, LaPierre wrote a fundraising letter describing federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” who wear “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens.”
  • One week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, he blamed “gun-free zones”, violent video games, the media, movies, weak databases on mental illness and lax security for the 26 deaths at the school.
  • A week after the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, LaPierre delivered a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) saying, “As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. The elites do not care one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them it is not a safety issue, it is a political issue ... [Gun control advocates] don’t care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care.”
  • He once told a friend his dream job was to retire from the NRA and open an ice cream stand in Maine.
  • He is married. His wife, Susan, is also involved in the NRA.
  • He makes nearly $1 million a year in salary.
  • He once hosted a weekly syndicated television program called “Crime Strike.” In addition, he has a weekly podcast.
  • LaPierre says he opposes universal background checks, an assault weapons ban (as it was proposed in 2013) and any limits to access to semi-automatic weapons by law-abiding Americans.
  • He says he supports armed security guards in schools, creating a computerized universal mental health registry of those judged to be incompetent and Project Exile, which mandates severe sentences for all gun crimes, especially illegal possession.
  • He is an author and has written several books on gun safety and gun rights.
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