After Philando Castile was shot to death last week by a police officer in Minnesota, his girlfriend said he had told the officer he had a gun and a license to carry it legally, and had been reaching for the proof in his wallet. The shooting led many to wonder whether the National Rifle Association would defend Castile’s Second Amendment rights, reports the Washington Post. When Mark Hughes was mistakenly identified as a suspect in the massacre of Dallas law enforcement officers and inundated with death threats as a photo of him marching with an AR-15 rifle over his shoulder made the rounds on social media, people asked whether the gun rights group that lobbied for Texas’s open-carry law stand behind him?
The answer to both questions has been essentially no, at least for now. The NRA said it found accounts of the Minnesota death “troubling.” It remained silent on the suspicion surrounding Hughes, whom Dallas police initially identified as a suspect in the shootings of officers. “It’s an inequality. It’s an injustice,” said an attorney for Hughes, Michael Campbell Jr. “The NRA is a very powerful lobbyist group, and they have the means and the ability to affect society. We would expect for them to step up in this situation, for those who are legally carrying firearms.” The group is in a bind, said Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center, who has written on the politics of the NRA. “Until it was recognized that there was a longtime decline in household gun ownership, the NRA essentially ignored communities of color,” he said, adding that “since the 1970s and 1980s, when about half of all Americans had a gun, that’s dropped to about a third … the traditional gun-buying public — white males — is dying off … so now they’ve been forced to reach out to the communities they once demonized.”