May 31 (UPI) — Longtime National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre was re-elected to his post by the gun group’s board of directors on Monday in the wake of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
LaPierre, who has directed the organization since 1991 and has survived accusations of financial conflicts of interest, was re-elected with “almost unanimous support” over former Republican congressman Allen West at the NRA’s annual meeting in Houston, the group said in an issued statement.
Charles Cotton was re-elected as board president, while Willes K. Lee was approved as first vice president and David Coy as second vice president.
“I am honored to continue my work for the NRA, and to join our members in their campaign to promote responsible gun ownership and defend Second Amendment freedom for all law-abiding Americans,” LaPierre said after offering condolences “for the people of Uvalde and Texas” following Tuesday’s mass shooting, in which a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
The NRA board’s vote of strong support of LaPierre suggested little will change in its hardline approach opposing any form of gun control following what by one count was the nation’s 27th school shooting this year.
In his statement, LaPierre echoed previous NRA responses to mass shootings by calling for “improved mental health services” while declaring “the need to make our schools more safe and secure” has become a “national emergency.”
Former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke against gun control measures at the NRA meeting on Friday, while outside the venue, hundreds rallied in opposition to the gathering, shouting slogans like “lives over profits” and calling for “common-sense gun laws,” Houston Public Media reported.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Uvalde on Sunday to visit the school shooting site — less than two weeks after the president went to Buffalo, N.Y., where a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a TOPS grocery store in an attack that is being investigated as a hate crime.
In re-electing LaPierre as CEO, the NRA board brushed off accusations brought two years ago by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who charged in a civil suit that he and three other NRA executives violated state law for non-profits by allegedly diverting millions of dollars from the organization to fund their lavish lifestyles.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen in March threw out James’ efforts to dissolve the NRA over the alleged violations, but allowed the suit against LaPierre and the other individuals to continue.
The NRA sought to declare bankruptcy last year and relocate from New York to Texas, but that move was blocked after James argued it was merely an attempt to avoid her office’s lawsuit.