Gang Violence Hearing
Gang Violence Hearing

WASHINGTON - A U.S. congresswoman labeled the National Rifle Association and its spokeswoman "domestic security threats" in social media posts that quickly drew condemnation from the gun rights organization.

"I'm just going to say it. #NRA & @DLoesch are quickly becoming domestic security threats under President [Donald] Trump. We can't ignore that," Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, wrote on Twitter.

Rice's Thursday comment is as a follow-up to a post in which she seemingly accused the NRA of bias against minorities because the group failed to support a black man who'd been shot by police during a traffic stop.

"So if a white guy was shot dead during a routine stop w/ a legal gun & a joint in his car, #NRA would stay silent? You're the ones lying," she wrote earlier.

Rice's initial comment referenced the death of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in 2016. Castile was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop after he told the officer he had a license to carry a gun.

The NRA came under heavy criticism in the aftermath of the shooting because some saw the group as not living up to its obligation to defend legal gun owners. But NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said the NRA didn't speak up on Castile's behalf because he was in possession of marijuana at the time of his death and, she said, that violates the law.

Second Amendment right

The NRA is America's leading association defending the rights of citizens to own and carry firearms. Americans are specifically afforded the right to bear arms by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The NRA hadn't spoken about Castile's death for nearly a year, until last month during an appearance on cable channel CNN when Loesch called the incident "a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided."

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Nati
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Loesch responded to Rice's accusation that she and the NRA were "becoming domestic security threats" later Thursday night, asking whether Rice believed the NRA was a bigger threat than the South American street gang MS-13.

Last week, Loesch and the NRA released an advertisement in which she attacked The New York Times as "fake news" and told the newspaper to consider the ad a "shot across your proverbial bow."

"We've had it with your constant protection of your Democrat overlords, your refusal to acknowledge any truth that upsets the fragile construct that you believe is real life," Loesch said to the newspaper in the video. "We're going to laser-focus on your so-called 'honest pursuit of truth.' In short, we're coming for you."

This year, the NRA has targeted The Washington Post and other organizations in videos aimed at discrediting them and increasing recruitment for the gun rights group.

VOA asked both the NRA and Rice's office for comment, but neither immediately responded.