Pro-gun media outlets and figures have been silent after the recent release of old footage from National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s botched elephant hunt, during which he shot an animal four times before managing to kill it.
On April 27, The Trace’s Mike Spies published an article in partnership with The New Yorker featuring a video of LaPierre and his wife hunting elephants in Botswana. The hunt was filmed as part of an NRA-sponsored television show, Under Wild Skies, meant to “boost the organization’s profile among hunters.” It never aired due to concerns that it would be a “public-relations fiasco.”
In the video, which was buried for eight years, LaPierre wounded an elephant and was instructed by the hunting guide where to fire a fatal shot. Instead, he shot the animal in the wrong spot, three times, at point-blank range. Eventually, the guide instructed the host of Under Wild Skies to fire the fatal shot. That species of elephant was declared endangered earlier this year.
Pro-gun media outlets and figures have yet to condemn or even comment on LaPierre’s horrendous gun handling and treatment of the elephant. Online blogs such as Bearing Arms, AmmoLand, The Truth About Guns, and websites The Daily Caller and Breitbart — both of which have firearms sections — have remained silent. However, all of these outlets have written about hunting and conservation in the past: from how-to guides and reviews and articles about hunting equipment, to pieces about conservation efforts and updates about legislation.
The NRA has positioned itself as a pro-hunting organization that is concerned with conservation. It has an online education course to help new hunters “learn how to be safe and responsible members of the hunting community.” The NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the group’s lobbying arm, has an entire page about hunting and conservation legislation, and the NRA has a blog, American Hunter, that says its writers are committed to writing about strategy, adventure, and conservation.
The NRA also has a web page dedicated to hunting, which praises hunters for contributing “millions of dollars every year towards wildlife management and conservation projects as well as work to preserve the treasured tradition for future generations.”