After a black man was shot and killed by a police officer on Wednesday, gun control advocates found an unexpected “ally” in their battle against the NRA in the form of some of its members who believe the group did not do enough to defend gun owners by speaking out on behalf of the deceased, Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The unhappiness of the members is threatening to cause an internal split in the organization, reports the Washington Post.
In spite of the fact that Castile had a permit for the weapon, and reportedly told the police officer he had a gun, he was shot dead at a traffic stop outside St. Paul with his girlfriend and her 4-year old in the car. This resulted in an uproar, as following the rules and trying to comply with the police officer’s request did not prevent his death.
The NRA seemed to be unwilling to commit to a stance on the incident, and when they did address it a day later on their Facebook page, they did not name Castile and referred only to “reports from Minnesota,” saying:”It is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing. Rest assured, the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.”
In the case of the Dallas attack in which five police officers were mortally wounded, the NRA was quick to respond, focusing on “the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms for defense of themselves and others,” totally dismissing the fact that the officers were killed in the line of duty. This approach was similar to the one taken by the organization after the mass shooting in Orlando, after which executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Actions, Chris Cox, wrote the following.
“Destroy radical Islam, not the right of law-abiding Americans to protect themselves.”
The vast difference in the response of the NRA in the two shootings is being labeled as double standards in the manner in which it protects firearm owners.
The lack of faith in the organization was evident as numerous members voiced their dissatisfaction on its Facebook page. A comment by Marco Gallologic said it best.
“I am a lifetime member. Your lack of message concerning the Castile case disappoints me and makes me question my membership. I appreciate your need to not jump into the discussion without facts. However, as a holder of a carry permit and at this time no evidence of any wrongdoing, he afforded the right to be innocent until proven guilty. You can comment on that! You can be part of the discussion. Wasn’t the NRA one of the earliest supporters of civil rights? Your lack of any respectable statement on Castile and your almost jumping out of your own a** at light speed to comment on the tragedy in Dallas shows a disturbing contradiction. What do I pay fees for if you do not represent gun owners and our rights?”
Another firearms group, the Second Amendment Foundation, also commented in their reaction to the Minnesota shooting.
“Exercising our right to bear arms should not translate to a death sentence over something so trivial as a traffic stop for a broken tail light.”
“Wednesday night’s shooting of Philando Castile is very troubling, especially to the firearms community, because he was a legally-armed private citizen who may have done nothing more than reach for his identification and carry permit,” said the group’s founder, Alan Gottlieb. “We have received calls of alarm today from many of our members across the country. They are justifiably concerned that a law-abiding citizen may have been wrongfully killed.”
A similar response from the NRA could have avoided the potential split within the group.
[Photo by Jim Mone/AP Images]