The morning after Dallas police officers were shot and killed Thursday night during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, the National Rifle Association's Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre issued a statement:
LaPierre felt anguish. He had a heavy heart. He offered his deepest condolences.
But neither he, nor the rest of the NRA, issued comment regarding the death of Philando Castile, a conceal-and-carry permitted black man in suburban Minnesota, who was shot and killed by Falcon Heights police Wednesday night. Members of the NRA are furious.
"As an NRA member I'm absolutely appalled," Jeremy Grissom, a 26-year-old Republican NRA member from Raleigh, North Carolina, said in a phone interview. "I want them to stand up for Philando because it was, based on the details I've ascertained, a cut-and-dry case of a possible assault on someone just because they were exercising their second amendment."
The NRA issuing condolences for law enforcement officers but not for legal gun owners left a bad taste in members' mouths on Friday. Members mentioned fearing for their own lives, since Castile, a legal gun owner, had been complying with officer directions when he was shot.
"You should seriously stop sending me solicitations for money to defeat Hillary if you can't even defend the rights of all American's [sic] to carry, regardless of what they are," NRA member Nick Coughlin wrote on the NRA's Facebook feed. "Last time I checked, that is what the NRA has always stood for. As a member, your silence is unnerving."
Even more, this isn't the first time the gun advocacy group has been silent when black men were shot in America. When protests related to the August 2014 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, the city turned into a veritable police state — but the NRA had nothing to say. Same goes for the murders of 37-year-old Alton Sterling and 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The NRA's outpouring of support for murdered police officers compared to silence for a murdered black man paints a grim portrait of race in America: Support is contingent on skin color.
July 8, 2016, 2:46 p.m.: This story has been updated.