NRA Executive Wayne LaPierre survived years of criticism. Now he's stepping down.

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Longtime National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre announced he would resign on Friday capping a roller-coaster reign atop the organization.

LaPierre, 74, leaves as the organization heads to court in New York on Monday in a trial on allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement.

The organization said Friday its board of directors met in Texas and NRA President Charles Cotton accepted LaPierre’s resignation.

“I’ve been a card-carrying member of this organization for most of my adult life, and I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend Second Amendment freedom,” LaPierre said in a prepared statement. “My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”

NRA executive and Head of General Operations Andrew Arulanandam will become the interim CEO & EVP of the NRA.

The organization’s membership, revenue and political force has waned in recent years amid the scandals, bankruptcy filing and legal battles.

LaPierre joined the organization in 1977 and became its leader in 1991. He piloted it from sportsman club to an impactful political movement. The lobbying arm of the NRA fights to beat back efforts at state and national gun control.

LaPierre was the face of the organization and known for his fiery speeches in the wake of mass shootings, namely after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre where he called for placing armed guards at every school. He also blamed violence on “blood-soaked slasher films.”

That press conference also featured LaPierre’s memorable line: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

LaPierre has been embarrassed by videos of him struggling to kill an elephant on an African safari and emerged as an unlikely leader of the hardline gun group with a history in Democratic politics.

Author Tim Mak describes the former lobbyist as an “awkward egghead type” in his 2021 NRA book “Misfire.”

“Wayne would be spotted far more often with his legal pads than with a pistol,” Mak wrote. "He looks at guns through the lens of politics − as a political junkie, not as a lover of firearms."

His leadership was challenged several times in recent years. In 2019 a power struggle atop the organization saw a showdown between LaPierre loyalists and those backing Oliver North at its annual conference in Indianapolis.

That episode will be replayed in the upcoming trial and the tussle with the NRA’s former advertising partner Ackerman McQueen.

Nick Suplina, a former counsel at the New York attorney general’s office who works for the gun violence prevention group Everytown reacted to Friday’s news with the man’s own infamous words.

“Thoughts and prayers,” Suplina said.

Everytown President John Feinblatt said the NRA’s “doom spiral … is already at rock bottom.”

“LaPierre’s legacy will be one of corruption, mismanagement, and the untold destruction gun violence has brought to every American community,” Feinblatt said.

New York Attorney General Letitia James called LaPierre's resignation an "important victory" in the case that began in 2020 alleging LaPierre misappropriated millions of dollars to fund personal benefits.

"LaPierre's resignation validates our claims against him, but it will not insulate him or the NRA from accountability," James wrote in a statement. "Our case will move ahead, and we look forward to proving the facts in court."

Nick Penzenstadler is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team. Contact him at or @npenzenstadler, or on Signal at (720) 507-5273.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NRA's Wayne LaPierre announces he'll resign