Citing the ‘health and well-being’ of its members, the NRA has canceled its annual meeting in Texas over COVID-19 concerns

hand holding guns on display
Attendees hold hand-guns equipped with surpressors during the National Rifle Association (NRA) 2019 Annual Meetings on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • The National Rifle Association’s annual convention was scheduled for next week in Houston.
  • On Tuesday, the organization announced that the convention was canceled over COVID-19 concerns.
  • COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been surging in Harris County, which includes Houston.
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The National Rifle Association has canceled its annual meeting over COVID-19 concerns.

“The NRA’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors, and supporters. We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends, and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications,” the organization said in a statement on Tuesday. “Those are among the reasons why we decided to cancel our 2021 event.”

The NRA’s annual conventions usually attract thousands of attendees. More than 87,000 people attended the 2018 convention in Dallas.

The convention was scheduled to take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center from September 3-5 in Houston, where COVID-19 cases have been on the rise and hospitals are overwhelmed.

Houston is in Harris County, which has reported a 21% test positivity rate over the past two weeks, county data showed. As of Tuesday, there were more than 51,000 active cases in Houston and the entire county combined. The county is under the highest threat warning and has instructed the unvaccinated only to leave their homes for essentials and for everyone to wear masks indoors.

On Monday, KTRK reported that three emergency rooms in the Houston area had to shut down because of an overwhelming number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Daily Beast previously reported that prior to the cancellation of the event, multiple gun makers had pulled out of the conference over COVID-19 concerns. Sources told the outlet that makers like Benelli USA, Browning, FN Herstal, Kimber Manufacturing, Savage Arms, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Company had pulled out. None of these companies responded to Insider’s email requests for comment at the time of publication.

Shannon Watts, founder of gun-violence prevention group Moms Demand Action, was critical that the NRA said it was canceling over safety concerns while at the same time promoting guns.

“The @NRA claims to have analyzed data and consulted with local medical professionals and elected officials about the dangers of the pandemic in Texas, but completely ignored this exact process when it pushed permitless carry through the state’s legislature two months ago,” Watts said in a tweet.

She added: “it is probably the first time the @NRA has put public health and safety before profits, so there’s that…”

The NRA did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

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Ex-NRA head Wayne LaPierre and his wife secretly turned an elephant they shot in Botswana into home decor: report

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  • Wayne LaPierre and his wife secretly shipped elephant parts from their Botswana hunt to avoid public outcry.
  • Records obtained by The New Yorker showed Susan LaPierre requesting the shipment have no clear links to the couple.
  • Taxidermy records showed the parts were turned into home decor, like stools, an umbrella stand, and a trash can.
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Wayne LaPierre, the former head of the National Rifle Association, and his wife, Susan, secretly shipped parts of an elephant they shot in 2013 to turn it into home decor, according to a new report published Thursday.

In late April, leaked graphic video footage obtained by The New Yorker and The Trace showed the LaPierres each shooting and killing two elephants in Botswana in 2013.

An export company in Botswana emailed the couple to confirm the shipment of animal parts, which included one cape-buffalo skull, two sheets of elephant skin, two elephant ears, four elephant tusks, and four front elephant feet, according to The New Yorker report published Thursday.

Susan LaPierre later requested that the shipment should have no clear links to the couple, asking to use the name of an American taxidermist as “the consignee” and that the company “not use our names anywhere if at all possible,” The New Yorker reported.

In one message sent by the taxidermist, who was not named in the report, to the shipping company, he explained that the LaPierre’s “can not afford bad publicity and a out cry,” which is “why they are trying not to have there names show up on these shipments so the information does not fall into the wrong hands,” according to records obtained by the news outlet.

Susan LaPierre also noted that the couple expected to receive “an assortment of skulls and skins from warthogs, impalas, a zebra, and a hyena” in the shipment, according to the report.

“Taxidermy work orders containing the LaPierres’ names called for the elephants’ four front feet to be turned into ‘stools,’ an ‘umbrella stand,’ and a ‘trash can,'” The New Yorker reported. “At their request, tusks were mounted, skulls were preserved, and the hyena became a rug.”

The request was made amid the public backlash against Tony Makris, a longtime adviser of LaPierre, after he shot and killed an elephant on the hunting show “Under Wild Skies.” The LaPierres’ hunt was filmed to air as part of an episode for the show, but it was canceled, The New Yorker reported.

There are approximately 415,000 African elephants in the wild, and the World Wildlife Fund lists the species as vulnerable, meaning they are not currently endangered but are at risk due to hunting and elephant poaching.

Representatives for the NRA did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment. Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of public affairs for the NRA, told The New Yorker that LaPierres’ “activity in Botswana – from more than seven years ago – was legal and fully permitted.”

“Many of the most notable hunting trophies in question are at the NRA museum or have been donated by the NRA to other public attractions,” Arulanandam continued.

Last August, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, saying the organization is “fraught with fraud and abuse” and accused LaPierre of leveraging his status as executive vice president of the NRA for personal gain.

In a complaint filed last August, James’ office claimed that the LaPierres received free taxidermy work, which “constituted private benefits and gifts in excess of authorized amounts pursuant to NRA policy to LaPierre and his wife.”

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New York attorney general claims victory against NRA after it dropped lawsuit against her

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In this Aug. 6, 2020 file photo, New York State Attorney General Letitia James takes a question at a news conference in New York.

  • The National Rifle Association dropped its lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James.
  • NRA lawyers sued James and her office, claiming her investigation was politically motivated.
  • “We were victorious,” James’ office said in a statement, according to Law & Crime.
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The National Rifle Association on Friday dropped its lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office.

“The NRA dropping its countersuit today in federal court is an implicit admission that their strategy would never prevail,” James said in a statement to legal news outlet Law & Crime.

“The truth is that Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants used the NRA as a breeding ground for personal gain and a lavish lifestyle,” she continued. “We were victorious against the organization’s attempt to declare bankruptcy, and our fight for transparency and accountability will continue because no one is above the law.”

According to CNN, the NRA said in a statement the suit was “voluntarily” withdrawn in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York “in favor of pursuing the same claims against James in New York State court in Manhattan.

The organization filed a similar lawsuit against James in New York state court earlier this year, according to CNN.

Lawyers for the NRA sued James and her office in August 2020, claiming James and her office were illegally investigating the organization for political reasons.

“There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” lawyers for the NRA claimed in the filing the lawsuit last year.

As Law & Crime reported, that lawsuit was filed the same day James’ office filed a petition seeking the dissolution of the NRA over claims of fraud at the organization, including that longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre and others improperly organization funds for pay for things like travel and “expensive meals.”

A federal judge last month dismissed the NRA’s request to declare bankruptcy and said its petition to do so had not “been filed in good faith” and that the NRA attempted to file bankruptcy to avoid litigation in New York.

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A Texas judge has thrown out the NRA’s bankruptcy case, clearing the way for New York’s attempts to dissolve the group

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National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md.

  • A Texas judge rejected the NRA’s attempt to go bankrupt, siding with New York state prosecutors.
  • Prosecutors said the bankruptcy filing was an attempt to squirm out of other litigation.
  • In August, the New York Attorney General’s office accused the NRA of corruption and negligent oversight.
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A Texas judge is throwing out the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy filing, saying that the case was filed in “bad faith” in an effort to avoid litigation in New York.

Judge Harlin Hale’s decision to throw out the case came after New York Attorney General Letitia James and others questioned the legitimacy of the bankruptcy filing. Law 360 first reported the ruling.

The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 15 after James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the gun rights organization, alleging it abused its legal status as a nonprofit. In its August filing, New York prosecutors accused the group of corruption and said its longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight.”

While reports of financial troubles have dogged the NRA for years, its bankruptcy filings showed it was financially solvent and had assets worth roughly $50 million more than its debts. The organization tried to restructure in Texas, claiming New York had a corrupt regulatory environment.

Prosecutors for James’s office viewed the bankruptcy filing as an attempt to squirm out of the litigation. Hale’s decision sides with those prosecutors, effectively giving a green light to James’s office to continue its lawsuit.

“A judge has ruled in our favor and rejected the @NRA’s attempt to claim bankruptcy and reorganize in Texas,” James said in a tweet Tuesday. “The @NRA does not get to dictate if and where it will answer for its actions, and our case will continue in New York court. No one is above the law.”

In court hearings, attorneys for the NRA have accused James of waging a political campaign against the organization. Closely aligned with Republican politicians, the NRA rallies its members to thwart gun safety laws typically supported by Democratic politicians. Research consistently shows that strict gun laws reduce gun violence. The NRA’s attorneys said that Texas, controlled by Republicans, would offer a regulatory haven for the organization.

The Justice Department stepped into the dispute earlier in May, saying the “evidentiary record clearly and convincingly establishes” that LaPierre failed to provide proper oversight and manipulated personal expenses so that they looked like business expenses.

Hale’s ruling permits the NRA to file for bankruptcy again, but he said that he would likely appoint a trustee to oversee the group if it does rather than leave LaPierre in control of the organization’s finances.

LaPierre is dealing with several other headaches in addition to litigation from the New York Attorney General’s office. In October, the Wall Street Journal reported he was under IRS investigation for possible criminal tax fraud. And in April, the Trace and the New Yorker published footage of him struggling to kill an elephant. The NRA said the publication of the video was intended to embarrass him.

This article has been updated.

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Video shows NRA’s Wayne LaPierre shooting but failing to kill an elephant for NRA-sponsored TV show that never aired

In this April 26, 2019, file photo, Nation Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the association’s Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

  • A newly released video shows NRA head LaPierre shooting an endangered elephant on a 2013 hunting trip.
  • LaPierre repeatedly fails to kill the animal from close range; his guide eventually makes the kill.
  • LaPierre’s wife, Susan, kills another elephant with ease and is filmed cutting off the animal’s tail.
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As executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre has cultivated a careful image as the paragon of gun rights activism in America. But a nearly decade-old video obtained by The Trace and published in partnership with The New Yorker suggests LaPierre’s skill with a rifle may be lacking.

LaPierre and his wife, Susan, traveled to Botswana’s Okavango Delta in 2013, on a mission to boost the NRA’s reputation among hunters, a demographic crucial to the organization’s base. A crew from the NRA-sponsored TV series, “Under Wild Skies,” came along to capture the NRA chief executive’s big game hunting adventures in the African bush, according to The New Yorker.

But the program never aired due to concerns the footage could cause a public relations crisis, the outlet reported.

Now, eight years later, footage from the hunt has been published, displaying LaPierre’s inability to kill the largest land mammal on Earth from close range and highlighting his wife’s apparently superior marksmanship.

The nine-minute video begins with LaPierre walking through the bush, dressed for a safari and accompanied by multiple professional hunting guides as well as Tony Makris, a longtime public relations advisor to LaPierre who is also the host of “Under Wild Skies.”

One of the guides sees an elephant behind a tree. LaPierre readies himself to take a shot as the guide repeatedly tells him to wait. But LaPierre is wearing earplugs and misses the guide’s instructions. He shoots and the animal falls.

“Did we get him?” LaPierre says.

The guide says yes, but as the group moves closer to the fallen African bush elephant, a species declared endangered earlier this year, the guide repositions LaPierre within a few meters to take a final shot at the still-breathing animal.

Then begins a nearly two-minute failed endeavor by LaPierre to kill the motionless animal. LaPierre fires three shots, each time failing to hit his mark and each time being instructed by the guide on how to re-adjust.

“I’m not sure where you’re shooting,” the guide says to LaPierre.

He responds by saying, “Where are you telling me to shoot?”

Eventually, the guide instructs Makris to finish the animal instead. He shoots and kills the elephant with ease.

In the latter half of the footage, LaPierre’s wife, Susan, gets her shot at the same prize.

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An African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is feeding on the vegetation in the Jao concession, Wildlife, Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Susan and her guides approach two elephants in the bush and whisper about how to proceed. The guide instructs Susan to aim between the animal’s eyes. She cocks her rifle and shoots. The bullet goes dead center in the elephant’s head as it drops to the ground.

Another guide congratulates her on appearing to kill the elephant with a single bullet. With the help of a guide, she fires one more bullet into the animal to be sure.

Following the kill, Susan responds by hugging her guides. “You can see how old he is. And lots of wrinkles,” she says, examining the dead elephant.

With her guide’s help, Susan cuts off part of the elephant’s tail, a ritual hunters do to claim the kill in “olden days,” according to the guide.

She holds the bloody tail up for the camera, smiles, and says, “victory!”

The NRA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Even though the LaPierre’s hunting footage never aired, The New Yorker reported that records show the couple still obtained proof of their hunting exploits: Body parts from the two elephants were shipped to the US “in a hidden manner,” at Susan’s written request, according to the outlet.

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NRA’s Wayne LaPierre fled to a friend’s luxury yacht to escape public outrage over mass shootings

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National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md.

  • Wayne LaPierre used a yacht to flee public outrage over mass shootings.
  • He spoke about the yacht in a deposition filed as part of the NRA’s bankruptcy case.
  • He said he was “basically under presidential threat without presidential security.”
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National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre feared for his life after mass school shootings in recent years, and sought refuge on his friend’s luxury yacht.

LaPierre spoke about the yacht, owned by Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie, in a deposition filed over the weekend as part of the NRA’s bankruptcy case in Dallas.

“I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting,” LaPierre said in the deposition. “And all of us were struggling with how to deal with that type situation with a private citizen with the amount of threat that we were having. 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.'”

He said he used the yacht as a “security retreat” because he felt threatened by public outrage over the shootings and gun policies.

Read more: The House passed two bills for universal gun background checks before the Colorado and Atlanta shootings. Here’s what the measures would do.

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