Do not watch the video posted at the end of this article.
It contains scenes of unbearable violence and cruelty committed upon innocent and endangered animals by some of the most despicable people living on the planet today.
It is only included here to verify the truth of what you are about to read, a sordid tale uncovered by Mike Spies of the non-profit, anti-gun-violence news organization The Trace, and published on The New Yorker‘s website.
Whether you are an animal rights activist or merely a pet owner who recognizes the common origin of animals as part of your deity’s creation, the story about Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and his family’s hunting trip to Botswana’s Okavango Delta is sure to disgust you and make you cry for accountability.
The video, which has been “hidden from public view for eight years,” according to Spies, was filmed by a crew from Under Wild Skies, an NRA-sponsored TV series that was designed to appeal to a crucial portion of the gun lobbyist’s donor base, those big-game sport hunters who kill animals for fun and trophies rather than any need to feed their families.
The fact that it never actually aired is likely due to the fact that its availability would create an enormous public relations fiasco for the NRA if enough people had access to it, one that they are actually facing now that the video has been leaked.
So what exactly does the video show?
According to Spies, it’s an embarrassing documentation of LaPierre and his wife hunting the largest land mammals on the planet, African bush elephants.
“The footage of LaPierre in Botswana first shows him walking through the bush dressed in loose-fitting safari attire and an NRA Sports baseball cap,” Spies writes. “He is accompanied by several professional guides and his longtime adviser, Tony Makris, a top executive at the N.R.A.’s former public-relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, and the host of Under Wild Skies. The heat, at times, causes LaPierre to sweat. As he walks, his wire-framed glasses slide down his nose. After a guide spots an elephant standing behind a tree, LaPierre takes aim with a rifle. As LaPierre peers through the weapon’s scope, the guide repeatedly tells him to wait before firing. LaPierre is wearing earplugs, doesn’t hear the instructions, and pulls the trigger. The elephant drops. ‘Did we get him?” LaPierre asks.”
Spies goes on to give the play by play of LaPierre’s bungling marksmanship, which demonstrates that rather than a macho outdoorsman, the NRA chief is more of a “coddled executive who is clumsy with a firearm, and fearful of the violent political climate he has helped to create,” as the author describes him.
The less detailed account of LaPierre’s pathetic attempt at playing a big game hunter can be condensed to the following passage from The New Yorker article.
“After LaPierre’s first shot wounded the elephant, guides brought him a short distance from the animal, which was lying on its side, immobilized,” Spies continues. Firing from point-blank range, LaPierre shot the animal three times in the wrong place. Finally, a guide had the host of “Under Wild Skies” fire the shot that killed the elephant. Later that day, Susan LaPierre showed herself to be a better shot than her husband. After guides tracked down an elephant for her, Susan killed it, cut off its tail, and held it in the air. ‘Victory!’ she shouted, laughing. ‘That’s my elephant tail. Way cool!”
While the killing of two innocent elephants should provide enough shame for any pair of mere mortals, it was likely not the primary reason that the footage was suppressed for so long.
The damage to the image of Wayne LaPierre as embodying the fearless conqueror of massive beasts would be too great if his ineptitude with the instrument that he’s made his career promoting were to go viral would simply be too great for the NRA leaders to stand, particularly when he is being shown as being roundly bested in his marksmanship by his wife.
One can only imagine how Wayne LaPierre feels now, with the NRA in bankruptcy and his reputation in tatters because of not just this footage but the revelations about his financial misconduct while running the organization.
When one learns that to avoid bad publicity—and at Mrs. LaPierre’s written request—body parts from both elephants were shipped to the U.S. in the name of a taxidermist who eventually transformed the animals’ front feet into stools for the LaPierre’s home, one will likely hope that he is suffering greatly for his behavior.
Until the NRA is shuttered and removed from any relevance whatsoever, Wayne LaPierre is a menace to society and should be afforded no comfort from civilized society.
If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the video of the LaPierre family on their murderous safari in the clip below.
Original reporting by Mike Spies at The New Yorker.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.