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Breaking a nearly weeklong silence following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, the National Rifle Association’s longtime leader Wayne LaPierre introduced what would become a Second Amendment rallying cry some eight years ago.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre declared in the immediate wake of the mass shooting, which killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Last week, LaPierre’s testimony at the NRA’s ongoing bankruptcy trial showed him adopting a different standard for his own safety. LaPierre claimed that he went on Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie’s 108-foot yacht, the Illusions, after the Sandy Hook shooting for “security” reasons.
The NRA chief offered the same rationale for flying exclusively by private charter jet, and he defended his receipt of nearly $300,000 in Italian suits from a Beverly Hills Zegna, which the group’s longtime public relations Ackerman McQueen bought him for television appearances.
The latest episode of Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections” features highlights from court-released audio of Wayne LaPierre’s blockbuster testimony from a federal bankruptcy court in Dallas, Texas.
For Shannon Watts, the founder of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action, LaPierre’s self-described method of protecting his safety is sharply off-message with his organization’s line.
“Wayne up here has spent decades and made millions of dollars, saying the only thing that can protect you from danger is a gun, right?” Watts told Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections” in an extended interview. “That the ‘only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.’ Well, apparently in Wayne LaPierre’s case, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with 100-foot yacht.”
Watts added that this is not the first time LaPierre has defended questionable expenditures by citing security.
“After the Parkland shooting tragedy in 2018, he also wanted the NRA to help him buy a house in Dallas that was considered a safe house,” Watts said. “So whether he’s on a yacht or in a mansion or on a Dallas golf course, there’s just apparently not enough guns in the world to make Wayne LaPierre feel safe.”
The NRA has filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in order to escape a lawsuit filed in New York by that state’s Attorney General Letitia James (D), who has asked a judge to shut down the nearly 150-year-old organization and put it into receivership.
Though the NRA formed in New York, LaPierre established a company Sea Girt, LLC to establish jurisdiction in Texas. The attorney general calls the limited liability company LaPierre’s “wholly owned shell company” for bankruptcy litigation brought in “bad faith,” and Watts believes that the NRA may regret LaPierre’s bankruptcy gambit.
“I think something the NRA thought would be a Get-out-of-Jail-Free card to to declare bankruptcy,” Watts told Law&Crime. “It’s starting to look like it It may have been a catastrophic decision. I mean, so much information is coming out about the organization about Wayne LaPierre himself, and I think it’s all bad news for the NRA. And it just further erodes their credibility and their reputation with their members with lawmakers with with the general public. I mean, they’re already underwater in terms of polling and how people view them, and the fact that that Wayne LaPierre is trying to evade accountability appears to be backfiring in spectacular fashion.”
The NRA’s polling went negative—by a hair—in a Gallup survey in 2019, with those viewing the organization unfavorably (49 percent) narrowly edging out those who view it favorably (48 percent).
In another high-profile gun case, the Supreme Court also recently dealt a blow to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was sued for his broadcasts depicting the Sandy Hook massacre as staged.
Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo, whose Connecticut city is a less than half-hour drive away from Newtown, testified earlier this year at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, and he reacted to that development in an interview with Law&Crime’s “Objections.”
“I know personally know some of these families,” Spagnolo said. “I’ve met them after this tragedy. I have peers that worked on that investigation.”
Though Spagnolo did not personally lead that investigation at the time, the police chief added: “Some very close professional peers of mine were the lead investigators there. So there’s nothing more tragic and nothing more real than I’ve ever experienced in my 30 years of law enforcement officer in this area in the state of Connecticut.”
Listen to the full episode below, with audio highlights of LaPierre’s testimony, news recaps and interviews with Watts and Spagnolo.
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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