The trial underscored myriad concerns about Mr. LaPierre’s oversight. During his testimony, Mr. LaPierre said that he had kept the bankruptcy filing secret from his top lieutenants, including the organization’s general counsel, and most of its board.
He also testified that he didn’t know his former chief financial officer had received a $360,000-a-year consulting contract after leaving under a cloud, or that his personal travel agent, hired by the N.R.A., was charging a 10 percent booking fee for charter flights on top of a retainer that could reach $26,000 a month for Mr. LaPierre’s globe-trotting travel to places like the Bahamas and Lake Como in Italy. Mr. LaPierre’s close aide, Millie Hallow, a felon, was even kept on after being caught diverting $40,000 in N.R.A. funds for her son’s wedding and other personal expenses.
There have also long been questions raised about lavish spending by the N.R.A. or its contractors on tailored Zegna suits for Mr. LaPierre, meals at a fancy Tuscan restaurant in Northern Virginia and charter flights for his family, as well as a plan that was drawn up to buy a multimillion-dollar house for the use of Mr. LaPierre and his wife that was ultimately abandoned.
Gun control groups cheered the news, though it is unlikely to fundamentally shift the gun debate, since Mr. LaPierre has already succeeded in embedding gun rights in the firmament of the Republican Party. Despite waves of mass shootings in recent years, there has been no indication that Republicans will support gun control legislation in the closely divided Senate. On the state level, a movement to allow people to carry guns without permits continues to gain ground in red states.
But the future for the N.R.A. itself, and in particular Mr. LaPierre, will become more uncertain.
“This bankruptcy was a Hail Mary attempt by the N.R.A. to avoid accountability, but the court saw right through it,” said Nicholas Suplina, a former senior adviser and special counsel in the New York attorney general’s office who now works for Everytown, the gun control group.
“The N.R.A.’s bankruptcy was unprecedented, and the court properly dismissed it for lack of merit,” he said, adding, “The road ahead for the N.R.A. just got much harder.”