The outgoing gun lobby chief cited health reasons for the move. One critic responded that “for decades, Wayne LaPierre functioned without a heart and half a brain so he must be in very dire straits.”
Gun control advocates celebrated on Friday as Wayne LaPierre announced he is stepping down as chief executive of the National Rifle Association—a development that comes just days ahead of a New York corruption trial scheduled to start on Monday.
LaPierre, who has led the NRA for over three decades, is an individual defendant in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ case targeting the gun lobbying group. The 74-year-old cited health reasons for the resignation, which will take effect on January 31.
“For decades, Wayne LaPierre functioned without a heart and half a brain so he must be in very dire straits,” quipped Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action.
Watts framed LaPierre’s exit as a win for his fiercest critics, highlighting that Moms Demand Action “shined a light on his unethical, immoral, and corrupt misdeeds for over a decade.”
Starting in 2012, @momsdemand volunteers forced the @NRA to hang its dirty laundry out for all the world to see. The resulting testimony, evidence and info leaked ruined the NRA's reputation and proved the corrupt "nonprofit" was profiting from American death and suffering.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 5, 2024
“As a reminder, LaPierre used millions of NRA dollars to buy Italian suits, reward family and friends, pay for family vacations to the Bahamas. He mismanaged the NRA. And he may have violated charity laws,” Watts added in a nod to the New York trial.
March for Our Lives noted Friday that James’ case was initiated after the youth-led group “looked into the NRA’s finances and wrote a letter to the NYAG about potentially illegal activity by the NRA.”
“Thoughts and prayers, Wayne,” added March for Our Lives, which formed after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
No human being is more responsible for the American Carnage across America than Wayne LaPierre. The night after Jaime's murder, I said "I am going to break the f-cking gun lobby." Good riddance and may you rot in hell Wayne. https://t.co/klglzx7hO2— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) January 5, 2024
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) president and CEO Noah Bookbinder similarly said that “we’ve been focused for years on abuses by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, including in a… complaint filed in 2020. His resignation today is overdue, but an important step.”
The case in New York “is a civil lawsuit, so there’s no risk of jail time or criminal penalties for LaPierre or the three others named in the suit,” but if the NRA loses, it could mean leadership changes and more oversight of the gun group, NPR‘s Brian Mann explained earlier this week.
Los Angeles Times senior legal affairs columnist Harry Litman observed that LaPierre’s resignation “perhaps suggests he’s looking to try to settle the case.” However, the state attorney general quickly pushed back against speculation that the strategy would work.
James said Friday that “the end of the Wayne LaPierre era at the NRA is an important victory in our case. LaPierre’s resignation validates our claims against him, but it will not insulate him from accountability. We look forward to presenting our case in court.”
In its statement about LaPierre, the NRA said that in response to James’ allegations, its board “has undertaken significant efforts to perform a self-evaluation, recommended termination of disgraced ‘insiders’ and vendors who allegedly abused the association, and accepted reimbursement, with interest, for alleged excess benefit transactions from LaPierre, as reported in public tax filings.”
LaPierre is set to be replaced by longtime NRA executive and head of general operations Andrew Arulanandam as interim CEO.
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