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NRA leader sheltered on borrowed yacht after mass shootings

DALLAS (AP) – After school shootings that have claimed dozens of lives in recent years, National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre said the resulting outrage put him at risk of being killed. ‘he had sought refuge aboard a borrowed 32.92-meter yacht.

In a deposition, the leader of the powerful gun rights group admitted to sailing the Bahamas with his family as a “safety retreat” during the summers after a 2012 school shooting in Connecticut and a massacre in Florida in 2018.

“I was basically under presidential threat with no presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was receiving,” LaPierre said, according to a transcript of the deposition filed in court over the weekend. “And that was the only place I hope I can feel safe, where I remember going, ‘Thank God I’m safe, no one can bring me here.’ ‘

The testimony emerged in a federal bankruptcy lawsuit over whether the NRA should be allowed to incorporate in Texas instead of New York, where a state lawsuit is trying to take it out of service. LaPierre is expected to appear on the witness stand in the case, which is practically unfolding in Dallas court, this week.

The NRA declared bankruptcy in January, months after New York Attorney General Letitia James, Democrat, filed a lawsuit demanding the group’s disbandment over allegations that senior leaders illegally misappropriated dozens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other expenses.

The allegations include that LaPierre repeatedly sailed to the Bahamas on the yacht of Hollywood producer Stanton McKenzie, whose company did business with the NRA, but did not mention the trips on financial disclosures. McKenzie is not named in the costume, but both it and LaPierre’s deposition include the name of his yacht: Illusions.

In deposition, LaPierre said he did not pay to use McKenzie’s yacht, which came with a cook, a powerboat and a pair of Sea-Doo watercraft. He said he did not believe the use of the vessel violated the NRA’s conflict of interest policy because summer boat trips were for safety. Nonetheless, LaPierre said he stopped using it in 2019 as part of the NRA’s “self-correction”.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left 20 first graders and six educators dead in December 2012. The February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. killed 17 people.

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on LaPierre’s testimony.

McKenzie did not immediately respond to voicemails and emails sent to his company for comment. He told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported LaPierre’s use of his yacht last year, that he had not read the New York lawsuit and could not discuss any litigation.

Shannon Watts, founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action, highlighted LaPierre’s testimony on Twitter on Monday, mocking her argument that it takes “a good guy with a gun” to stop a shooting massive. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with a yacht?” She wrote.

The group’s bankruptcy lawsuit began on Monday with a New York attorney claiming LaPierre bankrupted the NRA in Chapter 11 despite being financially strong to escape responsibility for his own spending abuses. He made the decision largely on his own and kept the plan a secret from the group’s board of directors, general counsel and treasurer at the time, New York Assistant Attorney General Monica said. Connell, to Judge Harlin Hale.

Although based in Virginia, the NRA was licensed as a nonprofit in New York City in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. His bankruptcy filing showed between $ 100 million and $ 500 million in assets and put his liabilities in the same range.

NRA attorney Greg Garman said in his opening remarks that LaPierre had done nothing wrong and made the decision to bankrupt the group to prevent New York authorities from going into receivership. . The NRA appointed a court to appoint a receiver to oversee the organization as a potential fatal blow and argued it seeks a more politically supportive environment in a gun-friendly Texas.

“I think it will help us flourish out of this environment and into a state that really wants us here,” NRA First Vice President Charles Cotton said on Tuesday.

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