A nonprofit group released a video Wednesday of National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) Chief Wayne LaPierre shooting an African bush elephant several times. The footage was from a 2013 taping for an N.R.A.-sponsored event, but the footage was never aired.

In the uncomfortable display, LaPierre shoots the elephant, but does not kill it. He then shoots it twice more at close range, still not killing the massive bush elephant. Later, the safari host finishes the kill. LaPierre’s wife, Susan, shoots another elephant in the face while her guide instructs her to shoot it again in the legs, so it isn’t able to fight back. Susan then slices off a piece of the elephant’s tail to keep as a trophy of her killing.

In 2013, African bush elephants were classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and in 2021 have been classified as endangered, largely due to poachers and hunters like LaPierre.


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“It’s sickening to see LaPierre’s brutal, clumsy slaughter of this beautiful creature,” Tanya Sanerib, international legal director and senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement on Tuesday night. “No animal should suffer like this.”

Managing director of the NRA Andrew Arulanandam confirmed the video’s authenticity along with a joining statement. “The hunt was fully permitted and conducted in accordance with all rules and regulations,” Arulanandam wrote in his statement. “The video offers an incomplete portrayal of the experience — and fails to express the many ways this activity benefits the local community and habitat. Such hunts are celebrated in Botswana, where they feed villages, contribute to the economy and culture, and are part of the fabric of the region.”

Sanerib noted that while hunting bush elephants is legal, it is in no way ethical. “We’re in the midst of a poaching epidemic,” Sanerib said, “and rich trophy hunters like the N.R.A. chief are blasting away at elephants while the international community calls for stiffer penalties for poachers — what message does that send? We need to halt all elephant killings or they’ll vanish forever.”

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