The NRA Is Honoring Blue Lives & Utterly Ignoring Black Lives

The National Rifle Association offered condolences to the families of Dallas police killed in an attack targeting law enforcement members during a protest against officer-involved shootings late Thursday. In a statement released Friday, the NRA honored the "heroism" of police killed in Dallas but refrained from mentioning the deaths of two black men both killed earlier in the week while in legal possession of a firearm.

Five officers were killed and seven others were injured overnight Thursday when gunmen opened fire on police during a protest over the officer-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in downtown Dallas. Although the NRA has remained silent regarding the death's of Sterling and Castile — something not altogether uncommon for the national gun lobby — NRA Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre released a statement in which he expressed "deep anguish" on behalf of the organization and its members over the deaths of five police officers killed in Dallas on Thursday.

On behalf of the more than five million members of the National Rifle Association, and especially on behalf of our members from the law enforcement community, I want to express the deep anguish all of us feel for the heroic Dallas law enforcement officers who were killed and wounded, as well as to those who so bravely ran toward danger to defend the city and the people of Dallas. With heavy hearts, NRA members honor their heroism and offer our deepest condolences to all of their families.

In the wake of the NRA's statement on the Dallas attack, many criticized the gun lobby's continued silence on Castile's death, arguing it was hypocritical of the organization to not defend the Second Amendment rights of black Americans. The Minnesota resident was shot and killed by police Wednesday during a traffic stop after reportedly informing officers he was in possession of a legally licensed firearm. Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend, has claimed Castile was shot by police while reaching for his wallet after the officer requested he show identification. Minnesota authorities have not confirmed if Castile was licensed to carry.

Others pointed to the NRA's failure to comment on Mark Hughes, an African American man legally carrying a gun at Thursday's protest who was identified — and later cleared — by the Dallas Police Department's official Twitter as a suspect in the attack on law enforcement officers, as evidence of the gun lobby's racial bias.

For many, the NRA's decision to speak out, however briefly, about the deaths of five Dallas police officers while staying silent about the shootings of two black men was perplexing given the role licensed firearms reportedly played and the organization's history of staunchly defending Second Amendment rights.