An estimated 80,000 members are expected to attend the National Rifle Association's convention on Friday night in Dallas, Texas, including President Donald Trump. Among the audience will be the NRA's vice president, Wayne LaPierre, and his wife, Susan LaPierre. While Susan may not be as well-known as her husband, she seems equally invested in the subject of gun access and rights in the United States.
So, who exactly is the NRA vice president's wife? Susan LaPierre is the co-chair of the NRA's Women's Leadership Forum. According to the NRA Women website, she is a Wisconsin native with a passion for fishing, hunting, and shooting. The website says that she strongly believes in the Second Amendment as well as her husband's organization — like every other NRA member.
"Serving as co-chair of the group, she has seen membership skyrocket and has played a key role in growing the annual luncheon from a small living room gathering to a large banquet setting at the NRA Annual Meetings," the NRA Women's website says.
Susan LaPierre is also apparently a strong advocate of diversity for the organization's women's forum. "We welcome anyone with open arms," she said, according to the NRA Women's website. "The more diverse, the better."
But the co-chair of the NRA's Women's Leadership forum has her critics, too. After all, the organization went through intense public backlash after a horrific mass shooting rattled the students and teachers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February. After 17 people were killed in the shooting, some Parkland survivors criticized NRA for glorifying the possession of weaponry.
In spite of criticism from gun control activists, CNN reported that donations for the NRA tripled after the Parkland incident. In January, the organization received $248,000 in donations, but in February, the amount of donations soared to $779,000.
Susan LaPierre chairs the NRA Women's Leadership Forum alongside Janet D. Nyce. On their website, both leaders have written about the purpose of the forum. The idea, according to the two, is "to unite women of influence to defend our Second Amendment freedoms and help guarantee the future of the NRA through philanthropic leadership."
Both NRA women wrote that the average member of their forum is "you!" They added, "We may come from different backgrounds, different places and different interests, but the common thread that binds us is our dedication to the protection of our precious Second Amendment. Because we know that without freedom, there is no future." The forum adds that members are "hunters, competitive shooters, personal protection advocates, [and] industry leaders."
In 2017, Susan LaPierre was appointed as a member to the National Park Foundation's board of directors. The website says that she will be a board member from 2017 to 2023. As a board member, the website says Susan LaPierre is "passionate about protecting America's cherished national public lands, making them accessible to all Americans and celebrating the central role of nature, and conversation in supporting healthy lives and healthy families."
But most of her work is centered on gun ownership. While she has attempted to brand NRA with a pro-woman face, some observers say that the organization has co-opted feminism for boosting gun sales. On Thursday, Elle magazine's Megan Angelo wrote that the pro-gun organization appropriated "girl power" to boost firearm purchases. Angelo referred to a recent advertisement from the NRA that featured Olympic athlete Lanny Barnes and professional shooter Julie Golob as both bonded over shooting.
It isn't clear if Susan LaPierre will have a speaking role at the Friday night convention in Texas. But it wouldn't be a surprise to know if people are curious to hear one of NRA's top women share her thoughts on America's intense gun debate.