After the 2012 Newtown, Ct., school massacre in which 20 young children died, several senior National Rifle Association officials thought the organization should take a less confrontational approach on gun control issues, the Washington Post reports.
Over their objections, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre struck a defiant posture. In fiery public appearances crafted by Ackerman McQueen, then the organization’s LaPierre announced that the group would create a model program to train armed security guards who could protect schools from shooters.
Then LaPierre and his wife left on a $70,000 trip to the Bahamas.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the couple was on official business, doing outreach to donors and supporters. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
“Wayne’s main concern was being respectful of the victims and their families,” he said.
LaPierre, as leader of the NRA, sought “to figure out a way to harden our schools” while also defending the Second Amendment, Arulanandam said.
New details about how the NRA handled the incident show how Sandy Hook divided the leadership of the powerful gun rights organization. The episode also showcased the symbiotic relationship between LaPierre and Ackerman McQueen, an alliance that defined the NRA for more than three decades.
During that period, the bills for LaPierre’s wardrobe and his private jet travel flowed through the Oklahoma-based ad firm, a practice that critics say shrouded the costs from some NRA leaders and members. At the same time, Ackerman McQueen collected tens of millions of dollars in consulting fees and kept a tight grip on the NRA’s aggressive messaging.
Additional Reading: ‘Palace Intrigue’ at NRA