When things started to look rough for the National Rifle Association’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, after several school shootings over the past few years—including those in Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn.—he decamped to a friend’s luxury yacht, describing it as a “security retreat.”
“I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting,” LaPierre said of his use of the 108-foot yacht in a deposition filed Saturday. “And this was the one — one place that I hope could feel safe, where I remember getting there going, ‘Thank God I'm safe. Nobody can get me here.’”
LaPierre’s deposition is connected to the NRA’s bankruptcy case, according to NBC News. The yacht, named “Illusions,” belongs to a Hollywood producer named Stanton McKenzie.
The first time the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO sought refuge on the ship was the summer after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 schoolchildren. And the latest retreat to the yacht, LaPierre said, occurred sometime in 2018, after the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead.
The yacht came with a crew, supplies, a cook, staterooms, and two jet skis, according to the deposition. When asked if he offered to pay McKenzie, LaPierre said he did not. The NRA chief was also asked if the yacht’s use was a violation of the NRA’s conflict-of-interest policies.
In the deposition, LaPierre tried to paint a picture of his one-of-a-kind situation.
“Because of the threat that I was under and because of the fact that I couldn't feel safe anywhere, was being harassed and screamed at everywhere and death threats, I — I considered it a condition of the security environment that I was operating in as a result of the job that I had with the NRA, which put me in a totally unique situation that I don't think hardly any other American has experienced,” LaPierre said.
The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment. A spokesperson for the group told the Washington Post, however, that the blowback to the yacht revelation was “all part of a ‘smear campaign’ by anti-NRA activists and those who oppose the NRA’s plan to reorganize in Texas.”