Wayne LaPierre, the embattled longtime chief executive of the National Rifle Association, announced Friday he will step down from the post he has held for more than three decades, effective Jan. 31.
The announcement comes just days ahead of a scheduled civil corruption trial in New York. For the 74-year-old LaPierre, it could literally be a retirement announcement.
An official announcement was posted Friday on the NRA’s website. LaPierre cited health reasons for his departure.
“With pride in all that we have accomplished, I am announcing my resignation from the NRA,” LaPierre said. “I’ve been a card-carrying member of this organization for most of my adult life, and I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend Second Amendment freedom. My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”
The establishment media was quick to report LaPierre’s announcement. NRA has been under intense scrutiny for the past few years since New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into alleged financial abuses by top NRA officials, including LaPierre. When she was running for office, James vowed to take on the organization, and many in the firearms community believe she weaponized her agency to do it.
The report at NBC News about LaPierre’s announcement did not stray far from the looming lawsuit. The network noted that if the six-member jury finds against NRA and the individual defendants—including LaPierre—“they will recommend the amount of money that each defendant would have to repay the NRA.”
Her attempt to have NRA dissolved—it was founded and incorporated in New York State in 1871—was dismissed by a judge in 2022. Whether James will try taking credit for LaPierre’s departure isn’t yet known.
According to Fox News, Andrew Arulanandam, NRA’s head of general operations, will take over as interim CEO of the organization. He did not return calls from TGM seeking comment. Likewise, other NRA insiders were not returning calls or offering comment.
LaPierre was first elected executive vice president of the association in 1991, and he has weathered several storms over the years, as well as having ridden the waves to some of NRA’s high points, including when the association reached more than 5 million members. He came to the association as a dark-haired young man and he will leave with plenty of gray on his brow. He served as EVP when the late Charlton Heston was elected to the office of NRA president, and he also made it through what some described as an “attempted coup” during the annual convention in Indianapolis.
He has been at the helm as NRA expanded concealed carry laws, and more recently, permitless carry (aka “Constitutional carry) laws in 26 states.
“On behalf of the NRA Board of Directors, I thank Wayne LaPierre for his service,” said NRA President Charles Cotton in a prepared statement. “Wayne has done as much to protect Second Amendment freedom as anyone. Wayne is a towering figure in the fight for constitutional freedom, but one of his other talents is equally important: he built an organization that is bigger than him. Under the direction of Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA will continue to thrive – with a renewed energy in our business operations and grassroots advocacy. Our future is bright and secure.”
In recent days there has been much speculation about LaPierre and the NRA as the civil trial begins. LaPierre is a defendant in that case, and it is not clear how his announcement will affect the case, if at all.
Prior to being elected to the post of executive vice president, LaPierre had worked at the NRA since 1977. With his departure, he will have been with NRA 47 years.
Lee Williams, editor of the SAF Investigative Journalism Project, contributed to this report.