Wayne LaPierre was brutally mocked within the NRA and his friends looked on ‘in horror’ as he was manipulated: new book

The new book "Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA" by Tim Mak describes, among other things, the unlikely leadership of Wayne LaPierre, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who couldn't even shoot a gun.

LaPierre has helped get the National Rifle Association into scores of investigations over alleged misuse of funds. The gun CEO used the NRA to spend $300,000 on clothes from Beverly Hills, claiming he needed them for public appearances and interviews, which he rarely does. There were private jets, private drivers, $39,000 suites and other finery. When it came to the kind of gun culture created by the NRA, the flannel-wearing, baseball cap sporting, sportsman and protector of the family — LaPierre was about as far away as possible.

"An old joke circulated around NRA HQ: the safest place you could be when Wayne had a gun was between Wayne and the target," Mak quoted from one source for the book.

A 2021 story revealed as much when NBC Sports was promoting a documentary featuring LaPierre illegally killing an elephant in the Botswana's Okavango Delta. It became illegal to shoot elephants in Botswana in 2014. The carefully crafted documentary shows LaPierre with his lobbyist shooting an elephant in the face and then sharing a glass of champagne while the men watch a sunset together. The reality was different, however, as it turns out LaPierre couldn't shoot the elephant. Guides essentially grabbed the elephant and held it for LaPierre so he could illegally shoot it.

According to a review of Mak's book by The New Republic, LaPierre was essentially nothing more than a fancy-pants Washington insider polished by a PR campaign into being a tough guy. It's unclear if that's why LaPierre rarely gives interviews or speaks publicly.

"As its membership rolls and revenues have swollen, the NRA has become one of the premier brokers of power in and around Capitol Hill, rewarding friends and punishing enemies with the brio of a true kingmaker—or tin-pot dictator, as has increasingly been the dominant mode in the NRA's epically corrupt career," The New Republic assessed.

The book goes on to describe LaPierre as having "great comic-tragic character flaws," describing him as someone who avoids conflict. At times, however, the text can seem to blame others for LaPierre's leadership, painting him as someone easily swindled by others, including his own wife.

"Despite being the head of one of the most controversial organizations in America, he is deeply unsettled by personal conflict," wrote Mak. "This [is] … why he has been prey to so many con men over his decades-long tenure with the National Rifle Association. His friends could only look on in horror as those around him manipulated this simple weakness."

It even goes on to describe his wedding, where LaPierre made it clear he didn't want to get married. After it was discovered a young intern was being housed in a fancy DC apartment during her time at the NRA, there were questions about whether LaPierre could be having an affair. The thought was quickly dismissed by anyone who knew him. The book describes him as the kind of guy who would rather spend his time taking a nap than having an affair.

The New Republic implied that a significant portion of the money mismanagement came from "pumping up and marketing Wayne LaPierre, the fire-breathing defender of America's Second Amendment freedoms."

"In the late '90s, the brain trust at Ackerman McQueen launched the six-year run of a syndicated two-hour radio platform for the NRA leader, The Wayne LaPierre Show," The New Republic recalled. "In 1994, the Ackerman McQueen gurus had ghostwritten a gun-toting broadside for LaPierre—who otherwise, Mak writes, was simply 'never certain enough to know what to say'—called Guns, Crime, and Freedom. Thanks to the marketing prowess of Ackerman McQueen—together with an introduction from artillery-happy novelist Tom Clancy—the book rocketed up the New York Times bestseller list, and LaPierre was now ensconced as market-sanctioned merchant of acute right-wing grievance."

It described him as being so indecisive that he would reach out to Ackerman McQueen named partner Angus McQueen "several times a day" and "would not make a single strategic decision without consulting him, as though the ad man were his security blanket."

The book goes on to talk about how the least masculine man in the NRA lived a lavish lifestyle by claiming that he was under constant threat due to his job. Meanwhile, wife Susan LaPierre was using her husband's power to manipulate donors and the wives of donors so they viewed proximity to her as a kind of status symbol. She also used it to try and get a job as an ambassador in Donald Trump's administration.

"Misfire: Inside the Downfall" of the NRA is on sale now.

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