The National Rifle Association (NRA) responded forcefully Thursday to attacks on the group following recent mass shootings, and to gun measures proposed by President Donald Trump.
The mammoth gun-rights organization, which boasts 5 million members, issued an 18-part statement by tweet to address recent events and proposed legislation following back-to-back shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 31.
“We want to express our deepest sympathies to the families and victims in El Paso and Dayton,” the statement began.
“Unfortunately, aspiring presidential candidates immediately took to the airwaves this past weekend to politicize these tragedies, and to demonize the NRA and its 5 million law-abiding members,” it continued.
The NRA has come under scrutiny since the shootings, with gun control groups holding a candlelight vigil outside the organization’s headquarters in northern Virginia Monday to urge support for new gun measures in the wake of the tragedy.
“As a group that has advocated for Second Amendment freedoms for almost 150 years, we stand for only the safe and lawful use of firearms,” the NRA said.
Trump, who enjoys the NRA’s support, reportedly consulted with NRA president Wayne LaPierre just after the shootings, according to The Hill. “It is our longstanding policy not to comment about meetings,” the group said in response to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request to confirm the meeting.
Trump addressed the nation Monday, where he called for gun reforms including early warning gun confiscation and mental health considerations to block access to firearms.
The NRA initially released remarks supporting Trump, but used the longer statement Thursday to clarify issues they have with Trump’s proposals.
While the NRA said they support getting treatment for those “adjudicated as a danger to themselves or others,” the statement went a step further. “But, there needs to be real evidence of danger – and we cannot sacrifice anyone’s constitutional rights without due process,” it added.
With regard to universal background checks, which refers to the gap created by the lack of background checks required for private gun sales, the NRA drew another distinction from Trump.
“It is not enough anymore to simply say that ‘we need more background checks,’” they said.
“Considering both suspects in El Paso and Dayton passed them, that is rhetoric for billionaire activists and campaign rallies – not a call for constructive progress,” the statement added.
Trump said Wednesday he was “all in favor” of them in remarks to reporters Wednesday before he left to visit officials and victims in El Paso and Dayton, The Hill reported.
“The vast majority of gun sales, including internet and gun show sales, are already subject to background checks. In fact, none of the current background-check proposals would have prevented these tragedies,” the NRA concluded on the subject.
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