Jump to content

Wayne LaPierre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wayne LaPierre
LaPierre in 2017
Wayne Robert LaPierre Jr.

(1949-11-08) November 8, 1949 (age 74)
EducationSiena College (BA)
Boston College (MA)
Susan Znidorka
(m. 1998)

Wayne Robert LaPierre Jr. (born November 8, 1949) is an American gun rights lobbyist who was the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), a position he held between 1991 and 2024.

On January 5, 2024, the NRA posted on X that LaPierre would resign from his position on January 31. The announcement came amid allegations of corruption and ahead of a civil trial in Manhattan.[1][2]

Personal background


Wayne Robert LaPierre, Jr.[3] was born on November 8, 1949, in Schenectady, New York,[4][5][6][7] the eldest child of Hazel (Gordon) and Wayne Robert LaPierre, Sr.[3] His father was an accountant for the local General Electric plant.[3] The LaPierre family trace their patrilineal heritage to a 17th century French ancestor who emigrated from the Brittany region of France to New France (now Quebec, Canada).[8] His family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, when LaPierre, Jr. was five years old, and he was raised in the Roman Catholic church.[3] LaPierre first received a student deferment, then a medical deferment (the cause of which is still publicly unknown) and therefore was not drafted into military service during the Vietnam War.[9]

After divorcing his first wife, LaPierre married Susan Znidorka in 1998.[10]



Wayne LaPierre has been a government activist and lobbyist since receiving his master's degree in government and politics, including positions on the board of directors of the American Association of Political Consultants, the American Conservative Union, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.[11]

National Rifle Association activity


Since 1991, he has served as EVP and chief executive of the NRA, the largest gun rights advocacy and firearms safety training/marksmanship organization in the United States.[12][13] LaPierre joined the NRA in 1977 after working as a legislative aide to Democratic Virginia delegate and gun rights advocate Vic Thomas.[14] LaPierre announced his forthcoming resignation from the NRA on January 5, 2024, to take effect January 31.[15]

In 2014, NRA contributions totaled $103 million and LaPierre's compensation was $985,885.[16] In 2015, NRA contributions totaled $95 million. In that year, LaPierre received a $3.7 million deferred compensation distribution from his "employee funded deferred compensation plan", which was required by federal law, and according to the NRA raised his total annual compensation to $5,110,985.[16]

Fraud and financial misconduct lawsuit


On August 6, 2020, following 18 months of investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit against the NRA and LaPierre, as well as treasurer Wilson Phillips, former chief of staff and current executive director of general operations Joshua Powell[17] and general counsel and secretary John Frazer, alleging fraud, financial misconduct, and misuse of charitable funds, and calling for the dissolution of the association due to chronic fraudulent management.[18][19] The NRA attempted to have the case moved to Texas and the dissolution lawsuit dismissed, but federal Judge Harlin Hale of the Northern District of Texas ruled that the effort was made in bad faith.[20] LaPierre's compensation and exorbitant corporate spending on personal items such as expensive suits, home landscaping and mosquito treatment, chartered jet flights, and a traveling "glam squad" for his wife, drew attention in the eleven-day hearing.[20][21] In March 2022, New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen denied the claim to dissolve the NRA, while allowing the lawsuit against LaPierre and the organization to move forward.[22]

On February 23, 2024 a six week-long civil trial concluded with the jury ordering LaPierre to repay the NRA $4,351,231 of the $5.4 million the jury found he had misspent.[21] It also ordered the NRA’s retired finance chief, Wilson Phillips, to repay $2 million, found that the NRA omitted or misrepresented information in its tax filings, and violated New York law by failing to adopt a whistleblower policy.[23]

Views on gun rights

LaPierre supported regulation on bump stocks (pictured here on a WASR-10 rifle)

LaPierre has called for the presence of "armed, trained, qualified school security personnel" at schools.[24][25] At a press conference in the wake of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, LaPierre announced that Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas congressman and DEA chief, would lead the NRA's National School Shield Emergency Response Program, saying "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."[24]

LaPierre blamed the Sandy Hook incident, and others like it, on "lack of mental health reform and the prevalence of violent video games and movies".[24]

LaPierre has stated his support for the following:

  • Increasing funds for a stricter and more efficient mental health system, and reform of civil commitment laws to facilitate the institutionalization of the mentally ill when necessary.
  • Creating a computerized universal mental health registry of those adjudicated to be legally incompetent, to help limit gun sales to the mentally ill.
  • Increasing enforcement of federal laws against and incarceration of violent gang members or felons with guns.
  • Project Exile and similar programs that mandate severe sentences for all gun crimes, especially illegal possession. LaPierre stated, "By prosecuting them, they prevent the drug dealer, the gang member, and the felon from committing the next crime... Leave the good people alone and lock up the bad people and dramatically cut crime."[26]
  • Restriction on "bump-fire"-type rifle stocks, in the aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.
  • Bans on fully automatic firearms.[27]



In 1995 in the aftermath of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents, 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."[28] The term "jack-booted government thugs" had been coined by United States Representative John David Dingell Jr., Democrat of Michigan, in 1981, referring to ATF agents, and came to be frequently repeated by the NRA.[29] Former president George H. W. Bush was so outraged by the letter that he resigned his NRA life membership.[30] In response to growing criticism, LaPierre apologized, saying he did not intend to "paint all federal law-enforcement officials with the same broad brush".[31]

In 2000, LaPierre said President Bill Clinton tolerated a certain amount of violence and killing to strengthen the case for gun control and to score points for his party.[32] Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called it "really sick rhetoric, and it should be repudiated by anyone who hears it".[33] In 2004, citing Democratic candidate John Kerry's history of authoring and supporting gun control legislation, LaPierre actively campaigned against the senator in the 2004 presidential elections.[34]

In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he connected gun violence with "gun-free zones", violent films and video games, the media, weak databases on mental illness and lax security, and called for armed officers at American schools in an effort to protect children from gun violence.[35][36] Following the event, several in the media criticized LaPierre's statements, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board[37] and The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.[38] Others also criticized the NRA's remarks, including Republican Party strategist and pollster Frank Luntz.[39]

In response to the February 14, 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, LaPierre delivered a speech on February 22 at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in National Harbor, Maryland, in which he criticized the FBI, the media and gun control advocates. "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 get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care."[40] David Graham of The Atlantic questioned his reference to "elites," since LaPierre earns millions from his work.[40] LaPierre also argued that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms "is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright."[40]

On April 27, 2021, a video emerged of LaPierre shooting an African bush elephant at point-blank range on a 2013 hunting trip in Botswana, "demonstrating that the nation's foremost gun advocate could barely shoot."[41] The video drew criticism from conservation groups.[42][43]


  1. ^ Maremont, Mark; Gershman, Jacob (January 5, 2024). "NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre to Step Down Ahead of Civil Corruption Trial". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on January 5, 2024. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  2. ^ Luscombe, Richard (January 5, 2024). "Wayne LaPierre to step down as chief executive of National Rifle Association". The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 5, 2024. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d Zorova, Gregg (June 25, 1995). "The Sunday Profile : On the Defensive : Amid both political and public turmoil, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre has stood fast. But the : strains of combat—from within as well as without—are showing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "LaPierre, Wayne R., 1949–". id.loc.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Janssen, Sarah (2015). The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2016. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1600572005.
  6. ^ "NRA leader has Schenectady roots". The Daily Gazette. February 26, 2018. Archived from the original on March 5, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Brock-Abraham, Cleo (April 18, 2013). "Origin Stories: Mapping the birthplaces of the 2013 Time 100". Time. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  8. ^ "Pierre Meunier dit Lapierre". geni_family_tree. January 1643.
  9. ^ Mak, Tim (2021). Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA. United States of America: Penguin Random House, LLC. ISBN 9781524746452.
  10. ^ Mak, Tim (2021). Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA. New York: Dutton. pp. 7–8, 21. ISBN 978-1524746452.
  11. ^ "NRA's Wayne LaPierre: The force behind the nation's gun lobby". The Washington Post. December 21, 2012. Archived from the original on December 23, 2012.
  12. ^ Garrett, Ben. "Biography: Wayne LaPierre A Look at the Life and Career of the NRA's Executive Director". About.com. Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "This Is How The Gun Industry Funds The NRA". Business Insider. January 16, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  14. ^ "Shy No More, N.R.A.'s Top Gun Sticks to Cause". The New York Times. April 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "Wayne LaPierre resigns as NRA leader, days before start of his civil trial". NBC News. January 5, 2024. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  16. ^ a b Silverstein, Jason (February 9, 2017). "National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre saw compensation jump more than $4 million as revenue soared". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  17. ^ "About the NRA", Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  18. ^ Tim Mak (August 6, 2020). "New York Attorney General Moves To Dissolve The NRA After Fraud Investigation". NPR. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Hakim, Danny. "LaPierre, Longtime N.R.A. Leader, Faces Trial That Could End His Reign". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  20. ^ a b Judge Rejects NRA’s Bankruptcy Bid, Sets Stage For Dissolution, New York Daily News, Stephen Rex Brown, May 11, 2021. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  21. ^ a b McKinley, Jesse; Cruz, Liset; Christobek, Kate (February 24, 2024). "N.R.A. Stung by Corruption Verdict Tied to Millions of Misspent Dollars". The New York Times. Vol. 173, no. 60074. pp. A1, A11. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  22. ^ "Judge blocks NY's bid to shutter NRA, but lawsuit continues". CNBC. March 2, 2022. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  23. ^ Offenhartz, Jake (February 23, 2024). "National Rifle Association and Wayne LaPierre are found liable in lawsuit over lavish spending". AP News. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  24. ^ a b c "NRA: 'Only Way To Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun Is With A Good Guy With A Gun'". CBS. Washington, DC. December 21, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  25. ^ Fields, Gary; Colleen McCain Nelson (December 21, 2012). "NRA Calls for Armed Officers in Schools". The Wall Street Journal.
  26. ^ Fields, Gary (August 5, 2008) "Going After Crimes – and Guns" The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  27. ^ "NRA's Wayne LaPierre says current regulations should be enforced better". Face the Nation. CBS News. October 8, 2017. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  28. ^ Feldman, Richard (2008). Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist. John Wiley. p. 236. ISBN 9780471679288.
  29. ^ Butterfield, Fox (May 8, 1995). "Terror in Oklahoma: Echos of the N.R.A.; Rifle Association Has Long Practice In Railing Against Federal Agents". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  30. ^ "Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association". The New York Times. May 11, 1995. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  31. ^ Keil, Richard (May 18, 1995). "NRA Apologizes for 'Jack Boot' Letter". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  32. ^ Pear, Robert (March 19, 2000) "Guns Don't Kill People, Presidents Do" The New York Times.
  33. ^ Lacey, Mark (March 20, 2000) "NRA Stands by Criticism of President" The New York Times.
  34. ^ Dao, James (April 16, 2004). "The 2004 Campaign: The Gun Group N.R.A. Opens an All-Out Drive for Bush and Its Views". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  35. ^ Nakamura, David and Tom Hamburger "Put Armed Police in Every School, NRA Urges The Washington Post, December 21, 2012, p. 1
  36. ^ Molloy, Tim (December 21, 2012). "NRA Blames Films, Media, Video, Unarmed Schools for Massacres". The Wrap. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  37. ^ "NRA nonsense: LaPierre speaks for gun makers, not gun owners". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 26, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  38. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey. "So Many Myths About Guns and Gun Control". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  39. ^ Robillard, Kevin (December 26, 2012). "Frank Luntz: NRA not listening to public". Politico. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  40. ^ a b c Graham, David A. "Wayne LaPierre's Cynical Exploitation of Outrage". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 22, 2018. The NRA executive vice president's pugnacious speech on Thursday provoked an indignant response—exactly as he'd aimed to do.
  41. ^ Hakim, Danny (February 25, 2024). "LaPierre's N.R.A. Legacy: Stressing Guns and Money While Enriching Himself". The New York Times. Vol. 173, no. 60075. p. A18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  42. ^ "Video shows NRA head struggling to kill wounded elephant from feet away: 'I'm not sure where you're shooting'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  43. ^ "NRA's Wayne LaPierre elephant hunt video sparks outrage". BBC News. April 28, 2021. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America
Succeeded by
Andrew Arulanandam (Interim)