POLITICS
06/21/2017 01:35 pm ET

The NRA, Champion Of Gun Rights, Failed Philando Castile

Its silence in Castile's case is deafening.

The National Rifle Association loves to beat its chest after shootings in America.

A day after the mass shooting last year at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Chris Cox, executive director at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, took aim at “radical Islam.”

“It’s time for us to admit that radical Islam is a hate crime waiting to happen,” he wrote in an op-ed published by USA Today. “The only way to defeat them is to destroy them — not destroy the right of law-abiding Americans to defend ourselves.”

Weeks later, the NRA spoke up a day after a gunman ambushed and killed police officers in Dallas: 

But don’t expect the same kind of treatment from the NRA if you’re a black man in America ― even if you’re a registered gun owner like Philando Castile, who was exercising his Second Amendment right like an NRA poster child when a police officer shot him to death during a traffic stop in Minnesota last year. 

Castile’s story is emblematic of the NRA’s hypocrisy. The same day it issued its statement on the Dallas shooting, it also released a short statement about Castile ― without mentioning him by name or even directly acknowledging his death, and while noting that “it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing.”

That’s not how the NRA treats most investigations. It has a page on its website dedicated to deifying gun owners who stand their ground. NRA reps comment on shootings all the time, with far less restraint.

But despite proudly supporting the right to bear arms “regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation,” the organization’s public-facing demeanor changes dramatically with black victims. Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News wrote that the NRA is even partially responsible for their deaths, because police now approach members of the public with the expectation that they’re armed.

Today, the investigation of Castile’s death is over. Yanez was acquitted on all charges. On Tuesday, dashcam video of the incident was released, providing gruesome proof that Castile informed Yanez that he was carrying a gun before the officer gunned him down. Gun owners across the country are outraged over the Castile case. The facts are known, and yet the NRA remains silent.

The NRA failed to defend Castile.

“The group has developed too much of a reputation as an organization populated by old white guys,” said a writer on the right-leaning site Hot Air. “But we don’t want the NRA to be just for old white guys. It needs to represent everyone who supports and defends the Second Amendment and stays on the right side of the law.”

The Washington Post reached out to the NRA over the weekend, and got nothing in return. On Monday, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah lashed out at the organization, saying that the NRA only cares if the parties involved aren’t black. HuffPost gave the NRA multiple opportunities this week to comment on the Castile case, to no avail.

The NRA doesn’t have a legal obligation to comment. But its own members were miffed last year at the group’s failure to defend Castile and gun owners everywhere.

Other firearm groups with far less lobbying power and influence, meanwhile, were quick to jump to Castile’s defense. The Washington Post pointed out that the Second Amendment Foundation called for an independent probe into the “fatal shooting of a legally armed citizen” the day after Castile’s death.

Instead, here’s what the NRA had to say the day the dashcam video was released:

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