NRA exec holed up on yacht after shootings

·2-min read

After school shootings in the US that left dozens dead in recent years, National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre says the resulting outrage put him in such danger that he sought shelter aboard a borrowed yacht.

During a deposition, the head of the powerful gun-rights group's acknowledged sailing in the Bahamas with his family as a "security retreat" in the summers following massacres at schools in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

"I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting," LaPierre said, according to a transcript filed at the weekend.

"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.'"

The testimony emerged in a federal bankruptcy trial over whether the NRA should be allowed to incorporate in Texas instead of New York, where a state lawsuit is trying to put it out of business.

LaPierre is scheduled to give evidence in the case this week.

The NRA declared bankruptcy in January, months after New York Attorney-General Letitia James sued seeking the group's dissolution over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.

In the deposition, LaPierre said he did not pay to use Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie's yacht, which came with a cook, a motor boat and two personal watercraft.

He said he did not think using the vessel, dubbed Illusions, violated the NRA's conflict-of-interest policy because the summer sailing trips were for security.

Nonetheless, LaPierre said he stopped using it in 2019 as part of the NRA's "self-correction".

The NRA's bankruptcy trial began on Monday with a lawyer for New York arguing LaPierre put the NRA into Chapter 11 bankruptcy despite its financial strength to escape accountability for his own spending abuses.

Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a non-profit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state.

Its bankruptcy filing listed between $US100 million and $US500 million in assets and placed its liabilities in the same range.