(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Over the past month, many have wondered why the NRA took so long to offer any kind of statement on the shooting of Philando Castile by Officer Jeronimo Yanez last July, especially after the officer was acquitted of all charges back in June of this year. For those who may be unaware of the circumstances surrounding Castile’s death, here’s a brief refresher:
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was stopped by two officers from the St. Anthony Police Department for a broken light. His girlfriend and their four-year-old daughter were also in the vehicle. The officers radioed in, claiming the occupants of the vehicle looked like people who were involved in a robbery. Police approached the vehicle, and after Castile handed over his license and registration, he informed the officers he had a firearm in his possession, as one is supposed to do if they have a legal concealed carry permit. Castile did.
Within 40 seconds of the officer approaching the vehicle, he had shot and killed Castile.
Officer Yanez had informed him to not reach for his weapon, and Castile said he was not reaching for it. Regardless of this fact, Yanez pulled his gun and fired seven shots into the car, endangering the lives of the two other innocent civilians, including Castile and Reynolds’ young daughter. The bullets hit Castile five times, killing him at the scene. Philando Castile was not a “black thug,” as is often the narrative police apologists use when police officers kill someone who is African American. He was a law-abiding legal gun owner with a valid concealed carry permit whose only mistake was doing exactly what he was supposed to and informing the officers of the legal weapon in his car.
As a result, his story has had many people confused as to why the NRA, a group that purports to support the Second Amendment and the gun rights of all citizens, took so long to speak out regarding this unjust execution. When they did, they failed to condemn the officer. On CNN last week — a year after the shooting — NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said:
“I don’t agree with every single decision that comes out from courtrooms of America. There are a lot of variables in this particular case, and there were a lot of things that I wish would have been done differently. Do I believe that Philando Castile deserved to lose his life over his [traffic] stop? I absolutely do not. I also think that this is why we have things like NRA Carry Guard, not only to reach out to the citizens to go over what to do during stops like this, but also to work with law enforcement so that they understand what citizens are experiencing when they go through stops like this.”
As Reason observed, “Loesch’s reference to NRA Carry Guard, a training and insurance program for permit holders, could be read as implying that Castile might still be alive if he had known ‘what to do during stops like this,’” when, in fact, he did everything right.
Castile is a guy whose rights the NRA ostensibly claims to defend. Why was there no condemnation from them as an organization when this shooting occurred? Why did they offer no statement of support for the family of the victim who was exercising his legal gun rights? Apparently, there’s an answer.
The NRA is backing a new initiative called “NRA Cars For Freedom: Back Our Blue.” Their blog reports that “In addition to radio spots, the campaign will feature videos, print ads and exclusive interviews and profiles of American law enforcement on NRATV.”
According to NRA Executive Vice-President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, “Our country’s law enforcement officers represent the best of American courage. Yet today, a deceitful media has put their courage under fire.”
He also claimed that “It’s time America honored its police again. Stand with us. Help us Back Our Blue.”
The blog post announcing the campaign claims that “For decades, the NRA has been an unwavering supporter of American law enforcement,” touting its longstanding partnership and training programs with thousands of officers.
It has become clear that the NRA is less of a “gun rights” group like they claim and little more than a pro-government GOP front-group focused on carrying on the status quo at the expense of their loyal and misled, if not well-intentioned, members. They are not so much pro-gun rights as they are pro-establishment and pro-police. If the NRA cared as much about gun rights as they claim, they’d put their resources toward producing a campaign speaking out against government assaults on law-abiding citizens, like Philando Castile, and the infringements on their rights that happen on a daily basis.
Instead, they have shown themselves to be bootlickers of the highest degree. Even if they had launched their Back the Blue campaign but had also released a statement in support of Castile’s family and other legal gun owners, it would be more understandable and deserving of less scrutiny. But they didn’t. Instead, they chose to place all of their chips with police officers across the country, regardless of the rights and freedoms they trample. In the process, they thumbed their noses at the people they’re supposed to be fighting to protect.
Those who truly care about gun rights and defending them should look into other groups that actually support gun ownership and the Second Amendment. Don’t stand with an organization that preaches one thing and then turns around and defies their words with their actions. There are plenty of other good organizations out there aimed at protecting our rights from an overreaching government. The NRA has become all style and no substance. They’ve grown too big for their britches and have compromised on the position they once claimed to hold so sacred. This latest campaign and their silence on the many unjust police shootings prove it.
As a final note, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow citizens to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. LaPierre himself suggested this much during a hearing before a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013, after the Newtown shooting. As he told Sen. Dick Durbin:
“Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”
I’d like to pose a few questions to the NRA, to Wayne LaPierre, and to any devout NRA loyalists out there: If and when the time comes and the government gives the order to start confiscating guns from the citizens of this nation, who do you think they’ll send to do the confiscating? Will it be the president? Will members of Congress show up on our doorsteps and start asking for our guns? No, it will be the police, the “order followers,” the same “thin blue line” the NRA is proudly backing and asking us to “back.” In light of this, does the NRA sound like an organization that truly represents you and your rights?