Thursday night in Dallas, five police officers were killed in a sniper attack. Seven other officers and two civilians were injured. Friday morning, the National Rifle Association was quick to issue a statement expressing "deep anguish" on behalf of its members.

Absent from the statement is any mention of the protest where the shooting occurred or the reason for that protest: the killing by police of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Castile was reportedly a licensed gun owner. His disclosure to the officer that he had a gun in the car led the officer to shoot him, according to Castile's girlfriend who made a Facebook Live video shortly after the shooting.


It's exactly the sort of case that you might imagine would outrage the NRA, an organization dedicated to protecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But despite rushing to mourn the death of police in Dallas, the NRA was silent in the days after Castile's death.

Plenty of people have noticed this, and taken to social media to ask the NRA pointed questions. Some of its members were disappointed or furious, while non-members said they wouldn't join the NRA now based on its silence.

On Twitter, a handful of members are similarly upset.

To date, the only NRA employee who seems to have said anything on the matter of Castile's death is Cam Edwards, the host of a podcast from NRA News called Cam&Co.


"What we know does not look good," Edwards said on Thursday. "Our right to keep and bear arms is not based on the color of our skin."

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's Executive Vice President and very public face has been utterly silent.

The fact the NRA has commented on the Dallas police officers' deaths but not the death of a black man licensed to carry a gun is not surprising. Second Amendment protections have often been denied to black citizens. Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn't even get a concealed carry permit after his life was threatened. The NRA has historically not commented on individual or mass shootings, but the NRA does have a close if fraught relationship with American police forces.

Of course, for every NRA member urging the organization to speak, there are plenty more eagerly sticking with the organization. Some argue that this is just organization's policy; they invoked Erik Scott, a white gun owner who was killed by police in 2010, whose death also led to NRA silence.

This argument is bizarre on its face: Scott was refusing to cooperate with police and employees at a Costco, and took his gun out at one point. Castile was cooperating with a policeman who shot him as he was doing what he was asked to do, taking out his wallet. Neither Scott nor Castile should have been killed, but the difference between the two situations is itself an illustration of America's enduring white supremacist power structure.

But the NRA's silence even in response to its own membership ought to give that membership pause, and force them to ask whether the organization represents what they believe it does. Is an organization that has, as far as I can tell, never commented on a single shooting death of one of the concealed carry permit holders it claims to hold so dear really concerned about the rights it claims to be, or just in the vast industry which it is well paid to protect?

The NRA has been contacted, but has yet to comment on this story.

Update: The NRA has released a statement saying that while it finds "[t]he reports from Minnesota troubling…it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing." The statement does not mention Philando Castile's name or police involvement.

Additional reporting by Kristen V. Brown.

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at ethan.chiel@fusion.net