The National Rifle Association confirmed that a video going around shows its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, killing an elephant during a botched hunt.
The video was taken during a 2013 hunting trip to Botswana but was shared Tuesday by The New Yorker and the nonprofit journalism outlet The Trace.
In the nearly 10-minute video, LaPierre fires at the elephant, causing it to drop to the ground. Because the elephant is still alive, LaPierre and the group move closer to it.
A guide points to the spot where LaPierre needs to fire to kill the elephant, but LaPierre misses. He tries two more times from point-blank range but misses again.
Eventually, a guide fires a shot and kills the animal.
Despite LaPierre’s failed attempts, the group congratulates him on the hunt.
“You dropped him like no tomorrow,” a guide says.
“Your first elephant hunt was one heck of an elephant hunt,” another says.
The video also shows LaPierre’s wife, Susan, killing an elephant on a first shot during the hunt.
The NRA, a gun rights advocacy group, confirmed that it was LaPierre in the video and said the video was for a television show the group was sponsoring at the time.
“The hunt was fully permitted and conducted in accordance with all rules and regulations. The video offers an incomplete portrayal of the experience — and fails to express the many ways this activity benefits the local community and habitat,” said Andrew Arulanandam, the group’s managing director of public affairs.
“Such hunts are celebrated in Botswana, where they feed villages, contribute to the economy and culture, and are part of the fabric of the region,” he said.
The Center for Biological Diversity challenged that narrative.
“Savannah elephants were just declared endangered by international experts, and these intelligent beings certainly shouldn’t be used as paper targets by an inept marksman,” said Tanya Sanerib, the center’s international legal director.
“It’s sickening to see LaPierre’s brutal, clumsy slaughter of this beautiful creature. No animal should suffer like this,” Sanerib said. “We’re in the midst of a poaching epidemic, and rich trophy hunters like the NRA chief are blasting away at elephants while the international community calls for stiffer penalties for poachers — what message does that send? We need to halt all elephant killings or they’ll vanish forever.”
The video also drew backlash on social media.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 27, 2021
A video just came out of NRA chief Wayne LaPierre shooting and killing elephants.
Pretty on brand for the NRA chief to support killing things that have no way of defending themselves.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) April 28, 2021
John Feinblatt, president of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, tweeted: “This heartbreaking video captures the two hallmarks of Wayne LaPierre’s leadership: needless death and costly incompetence. You’d be hard pressed to find a more accurate illustration of the casual cruelty that is a trademark of the NRA’s top ranks.”
The video comes as the NRA said it would seek bankruptcy protection and was leaving New York for Texas because New York has a “toxic political environment.”
The planned move comes five months after New York state Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil suit that seeks to dissolve the association and accused executives of spending millions of NRA dollars for personal use, including private-jet travel, trips to places including the Bahamas and pricey meals.
The group countered with its own lawsuit against James, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others for allegedly trying to “blacklist” the group.