Wayne LaPierre, the president of the National Rifle Association in the United States, said the uproar over school shootings in which hundreds of people were killed placed him in such danger that he sought refuge aboard a borrowed 33-meter yacht.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut and the 2018 high school massacre in Florida, the president of the influential gun rights organization said he sailed to the Bahamas with his family as a “security retreat.”
“I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting,” Mr LaPierre said in a transcript of a court deposition.
“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 was given in a federal bankruptcy trial on whether the NRA should be allowed to incorporate in Texas rather than New York, where a state lawsuit is attempting to shut it down.
Mr. LaPierre is supposed to testify in the case, which is being heard virtually before a court in Dallas this week.
The NRA filed for bankruptcy in January, months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit alleging that top executives secretly diverted tens of millions of dollars for expensive personal vacations, no-show contracts for associates, and other dubious expenses.
Mr LaPierre was accused of sailing in the Bahamas on the yacht of Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie, whose company had done business with the NRA, but failing to disclose the trips on financial statements.
Mr McKenzie is not named in the lawsuit, but his yacht, Illusions, is mentioned in both it and Mr LaPierre’s deposition.
Mr LaPierre claimed in his deposition that he did not pay to use Mr McKenzie’s yacht, which included a chef, a motor boat, and two Sea-Doo jet skis.
Since the summer sailing trips were for protection, he did not believe using the vessel breached the NRA’s conflict-of-interest policy.
Nonetheless, as part of the NRA’s “self-correction,” Mr. LaPierre said he stopped using it in 2019.
Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 took the lives of 17 people.
A request for comment on Mr LaPierre’s testimony was not immediately returned by the NRA.
Mr McKenzie did not immediately return calls or emails requesting comment from his company.
Mr LaPierre’s use of his yacht was first mentioned by The Wall Street Journal last year, and he said he hadn’t read New York’s complaint and couldn’t comment on it.
Mr LaPierre’s testimony was highlighted on Twitter Monday by Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun control organization Moms Demand Action, who mocked his claim that it took “a good guy with a gun” to stop a mass shooting.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with a yacht?” she wrote.
The NRA’s bankruptcy trial began Monday, with a lawyer for New York claiming that Mr LaPierre filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy despite the organization’s financial strength in order to avoid responsibility for his own spending misdeeds.
New York Assistant Attorney-General Monica Connell told Judge Harlin Hale that he made the move entirely on his own and kept the proposal concealed from the group’s board, general counsel, and treasurer at the time.
Despite its Virginia headquarters, the NRA was established as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is still incorporated there.
Its assets were reported as being worth between $100 million and $500 million, and its liabilities were listed as being worth between $100 million and $500 million.
During opening remarks, NRA lawyer Greg Garman said that Mr. LaPierre did nothing wrong and made the decision to file for bankruptcy in order to avoid being placed in receivership by New York authorities.
Source: ABC World News