Thursday night’s ambush on police officers in Dallas, TX had elected officials, celebrities, and citizens alike offering their condolences to the families of the officers killed – as well as to those of the men who suffered lethal violence at the hands of police over the last two days.
Also sending messages of sympathy was infamous gun rights group the National Rifle Association (NRA), whose Vice President and CEO, Wayne LaPierre, tweeted a statement early Thursday morning.
Statement by @NRA Executive Vice President & CEO Wayne LaPierre#DallasPoliceShooting #Dallas #NRA pic.twitter.com/guzpI6B8Gt
— NRA News (@nranews) July 8, 2016
Emotions are raw as the country continues to mourn the deaths of two Black men killed by police; Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Sterling was gunned down by officers in the early hours of July 5th as he sold CD’s and DVDs in front of a local Baton Rouge convenience store. The Louisiana man was reportedly armed, as cops retrieved a gun from his front pants pocket.
Captured in graphic detail by his girlfriend’s cell phone camera, Castile was shot at point-blank range by a Minnesota cop who had stopped the couple for a busted tail light. Before he was fatally shot, the 32-year-old reportedly informed the officer he was armed but had a concealed carry permit. The officer subesquently fired four shots into the couple’s car as Castile reached for his identification.
As the NRA expressed its condolences, many couldn’t help but notice the group’s failure to mention the unwarranted shooting of Castile, who was a licensed gun owner. Even before the police ambush in Dallas, the gun rights group remained tight-lipped on fatal incident involving the Minnesota man.
Critics have since taken to Twitter to rip the organization for its seemingly biased response and lack of support for the rights of African-American gun owners. Some of the NRA’s own members were even outraged at the group’s failure to mention Castile’s name.
If the NRA won't advocate for family of #PhilandoCastille, then it's an organization of paranoid white grievance and not gun rights.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 7, 2016
Black, gun-owning congressman: "I always thought the NRA was not concerned about me." https://t.co/parV6d5cgz pic.twitter.com/Jq8nz6rMRk
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) July 8, 2016
Really @NRA? You couldn't even mention #PhilandroCastile's name in your press release ABOUT HIM? Damn you. https://t.co/9otM4tgvw8
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) July 8, 2016
Why is the @NRA so silent about apparent execution of a lawful gun owner by government agents?
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) July 7, 2016
.@NRA Still don't mention the name of the man carrying his legal weapon that was shot by the police. #SayHisName #PhilandoCastile
— TT (@temisol) July 8, 2016
Your move, @NRA. #PhilandoCastile https://t.co/X2c7oNsqBh
— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) July 7, 2016
Referring to itself as the “largest and oldest civil rights organization” in America, the NRA later issued another statement directly referencing the Minnesota shooting, but still didn’t mention Castile’s name.
The reports from #Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated. #2A #NRA pic.twitter.com/Z7wEQNBs0y
— NRA (@NRA) July 8, 2016
Instead, the group said it will wait for a thorough investigation of the “troubling” matter before they make any comments on Castile’s death.