In a surprising development, Wayne LaPierre, the long-standing Chief Executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), has decided to step down from his role. This unexpected announcement comes just days before LaPierre was scheduled to stand trial in New York on charges of corruption.
LaPierre, who is 74, made his resignation public on Friday, attributing his decision to health concerns. In a statement, he expressed his enduring dedication to the NRA and its mission, emphasizing his lifelong commitment to the organization and its advocacy for Second Amendment rights. “My devotion to our cause is as fervent as ever,” he remarked.
Effective January 31, LaPierre’s position will be temporarily filled by Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA’s current executive in charge of operations. This transition was confirmed during a board meeting in Irving, Texas, and received the approval of NRA President Charles Cotton.
Cotton, in a statement, acknowledged LaPierre’s significant contributions to the Second Amendment cause. “Wayne has been an instrumental figure in defending constitutional freedoms,” Cotton said. He also noted LaPierre’s role in developing the NRA into an entity that surpasses individual leadership.
Arulanandam’s appointment is seen as a step towards invigorating the NRA’s operational and advocacy efforts. “Under Andrew’s leadership, the NRA is poised for a future of renewed vigor and success,” Cotton added.
LaPierre’s resignation precedes his impending trial, instigated by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has been a vocal critic of the NRA, previously labeling it a ‘terrorist organization’. The lawsuit, initiated in 2020, accuses NRA executives of misappropriating funds for personal use.
Despite these allegations, LaPierre was reelected as CEO in 2021. The NRA attempted to relocate from New York to Texas and filed for bankruptcy in May 2021, a move LaPierre admitted was aimed at evading litigation. However, this strategy was thwarted by a federal judge, who described LaPierre’s conduct as “shocking” and dismissed the bankruptcy filing as fraudulent.
The NRA’s efforts to halt the corruption investigation, citing political motivations by James, were unsuccessful. The trial is set to commence on January 8 at the New York Supreme Court.
Despite the ongoing legal challenges, the NRA achieved a legal victory in March 2022 when a New York court dismissed the motion to dissolve the organization. The NRA stated it had conducted internal reviews, addressing allegations of misconduct and ensuring compliance.
In his farewell statement, LaPierre praised the NRA’s resilience and commitment to Second Amendment rights, particularly in New York. He expressed confidence in the NRA’s leadership and specifically commended Arulanandam for his extensive knowledge and experience within the organization. “Andrew is well-equipped to lead the NRA forward,” LaPierre stated, confident in the future of the organization under new leadership.