On June 16, when the jury returned a not guilty verdict in the shooting death of Philando Castile, Minnesota exploded with opinions from across the spectrum. Some praised the rule of law, while many others found the verdict to be a miscarriage of justice (to put it kindly).
But one voice was, and has remained, oddly silent: The National Rifle Association.
Two days after the shooting of Castile by Officer Jeronimo Yanez in July of 2016, the NRA’s legislative arm released a statement (on Facebook, no less): "the NRA proudly supports the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms," and "the NRA will have more to say once the facts are known."
Since then, there’s been nothing but crickets in the normally outspoken NRA headquarters. But coincidentally timed is an NRA video, released one day before Yanez’s defense rested its case, that almost seems to anticipate the loud response and protests that came in the wake of the jury’s decision.
Over music worthy of Darth Vader marching through the Death Star and flashing images of America collapsing into anarchy, an angry looking woman delivers the following message:
They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse “the resistance.”
All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding — until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.
And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place.
Since the verdict, this video has exploded across social media—4.2 million views on Facebook and counting—and the message it sends is pretty clear. America’s champion of Second Amendment Rights is now championing a definition of “freedom” so limited that anyone happy with the state of the country should send them money. Anyone unhappy—liberal insurgents, one and all—need not even consider themselves citizens any more.
Since its release, the video has racked up thousands of comments, ranging from paranoid support like “They seek to destroy us the American Patriots. They are called PROGRESSIVES many of which are actually COMMUNISTS,” to snarky opposition. One individual even asked for resources to train black and trans youth in firearm safety. The NRA quickly responded by referring him to their training page.
Yet there’s still no statement about the shooting of Castile, who went through all the proper training to obtain his gun permit. Ironically enough, since the NRA holds a near monopoly on civilian firearms training, it’s almost guaranteed that Castile took his required conceal and carry class from an NRA certified instructor.
But for those who watch the video and shudder at the message, whether it’s the people directly attacked or the gun owners who no longer want to be part of the NRA because of this aggressive divisiveness (as many commenters stated), the NRA’s silence about Castile speaks louder than any statement could.
- Jeronimo Yanez: A previous arrest offers insight into the beleaguered officer's mind
- Interviews contradict Jeronimo Yanez trial testimony he saw Philando Castile’s gun
- Marlon James writes about being 'big,' black and Minnesotan in the age of Philando Castile
- Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of manslaughter for killing Philando Castile
- Dashcam clip of Philando Castile's killing released [VIDEO]