Video shows NRA's Wayne LaPierre shooting but failing to kill an elephant for NRA-sponsored TV show that never aired

  • A newly released video shows NRA head LaPierre shooting an endangered elephant on a 2013 hunting trip.
  • LaPierre repeatedly fails to kill the animal from close range; his guide eventually makes the kill.
  • LaPierre’s wife, Susan, kills another elephant with ease and is filmed cutting off the animal’s tail.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre has cultivated a careful image as the paragon of gun rights activism in America. But a nearly decade-old video obtained by The Trace and published in partnership with The New Yorker suggests LaPierre’s skill with a rifle may be lacking.

LaPierre and his wife, Susan, traveled to Botswana’s Okavango Delta in 2013, on a mission to boost the NRA’s reputation among hunters, a demographic crucial to the organization’s base. A crew from the NRA-sponsored TV series, “Under Wild Skies,” came along to capture the NRA chief executive’s big game hunting adventures in the African bush, according to The New Yorker. 

But the program never aired due to concerns the footage could cause a public relations crisis, the outlet reported.

Now, eight years later, footage from the hunt has been published, displaying LaPierre’s inability to kill the largest land mammal on Earth from close range and highlighting his wife’s apparently superior marksmanship. 

 

The nine-minute video begins with LaPierre walking through the bush, dressed for a safari and accompanied by multiple professional hunting guides as well as Tony Makris, a longtime public relations advisor to LaPierre who is also the host of “Under Wild Skies.”

One of the guides sees an elephant behind a tree. LaPierre readies himself to take a shot as the guide repeatedly tells him to wait. But LaPierre is wearing earplugs and misses the guide’s instructions. He shoots and the animal falls. 

“Did we get him?” LaPierre says. 

The guide says yes, but as the group moves closer to the fallen African bush elephant, a species declared endangered earlier this year, the guide repositions LaPierre within a few meters to take a final shot at the still-breathing animal. 

Then begins a nearly two-minute failed endeavor by LaPierre to kill the motionless animal. LaPierre fires three shots, each time failing to hit his mark and each time being instructed by the guide on how to re-adjust.

“I’m not sure where you’re shooting,” the guide says to LaPierre.

He responds by saying, “Where are you telling me to shoot?”

Eventually, the guide instructs Makris to finish the animal instead. He shoots and kills the elephant with ease.

In the latter half of the footage, LaPierre’s wife, Susan, gets her shot at the same prize.

Susan and her guides approach two elephants in the bush and whisper about how to proceed. The guide instructs Susan to aim between the animal’s eyes. She cocks her rifle and shoots. The bullet goes dead center in the elephant’s head as it drops to the ground.

Another guide congratulates her on appearing to kill the elephant with a single bullet. With the help of a guide, she fires one more bullet into the animal to be sure. 

Following the kill, Susan responds by hugging her guides. “You can see how old he is. And lots of wrinkles,” she says, examining the dead elephant.

With her guide’s help, Susan cuts off part of the elephant’s tail, a ritual hunters do to claim the kill in “olden days,” according to the guide.

She holds the bloody tail up for the camera, smiles, and says, “victory!”

The NRA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

Even though the LaPierre’s hunting footage never aired, The New Yorker reported that records show the couple still obtained proof of their hunting exploits: Body parts from the two elephants were shipped to the US “in a hidden manner,” at Susan’s written request, according to the outlet. 

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