Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), revealed in a deposition released this week that he often sought refuge on a friend’s yacht following mass shooting events in the United States.
The deposition in which LaPierre discussed his escape from the fallout from those events is part of the bankruptcy hearings currently taking place involving the NRA. The use of the yacht could be considered a conflict of interest for the organization, and in direct violation of laws regarding nonprofits.
LaPierre described the borrowed yacht as a “security retreat” that he would use at certain times between the years of 2013 and 2018. He further suggested that it was necessary for him to use the boat, which is owned by a Hollywood producer friend, as a precaution for his own safety following mass shooting events in the U.S.
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“I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting,” LaPierre claimed. “And this was the one place that I hope could feel safe, where I remember getting there going, ‘Thank God I’m safe, nobody can get me here.'”
LaPierre’s retreats, ostensibly to keep him safe, did not take place in close proximity to mass shooting events, however. The head of the NRA and author of The Essential Second Amendment Guide, for example, took one such retreat not immediately after but in the summer following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That horrific mass shooting, which took place in December 2012, resulted in the killing of 20 elementary-age children and six administrators in Newtown, Connecticut. LaPierre also took a similar trip on the yacht in 2018 — four months after a shooter killed 17 students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The yacht, at 108-feet long, is roughly the length of one-third of a football field. LaPierre noted that the vessel sometimes came with a staff of up to four and also contained “several staterooms.” The yacht occasionally had a 16-foot jet boat attached to it as well.
Some gun reform advocates took note of LaPierre’s yacht travels, and observed that his concern for safety was inconsistent with the messaging he pushed through the NRA over the years. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with a yacht?” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts wrote in a tweet.
Frank Guttenberg, a father of one of the victims of the Parkland shooting, also criticized LaPierre’s use of the yacht.
“According to Wayne LaPierre of the @NRA, a gun is not effective for his protection,” Gutenberg said on Twitter. “He chose to protect himself on a 100 foot luxury yacht. My daughters murder was a cost of doing business for this terrorist organization that steals from its members.”
The NRA filed for bankruptcy after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the nonprofit last year over its questionable expenditures. After filing for bankruptcy, the gun rights organization has had to justify a number of embarrassing and seemingly personal expenses they’ve made over the years, including at one point suggesting that mosquito spraying on LaPierre’s property was for “security purposes.”