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NRA lobbyist, arms dealer played key role in growth of civilian market for military-style guns

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Rene Carlos VosRene Carlos Vos, an arms dealer in Alexandria, began hanging around the Washington headquarters of the National Rifle Association in the mid-1980s. The NRA’s staff was intrigued to see the garrulous, backslapping Vos in the group’s seventh-floor suite, home to its lobbying operation and the chief congressional lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre.

Vos and LaPierre struck those who saw them huddle together as an odd couple. Vos took to cowboy boots and neatly pressed western wear.

“He came off like something of a dandy and a hustler, glad-
handing with everybody,” recalled Johnny Aquilino, a former NRA communications director.

LaPierre, by contrast, was remote and quiet, a hand-wringer with an obsessive interest in the intricacies of the legislative process who wore wrinkled suits and carried sheaves of paper — the Congressional Record, vote counts, handwritten notes — around the organization’s 16th Street NW headquarters.

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