U.S. lawmakers who back any measures on gun control will “pay a price for it”, the chief lobbyist for the country’s National Rifle Association threatened Sunday as he slammed those who would blame the organization for the country’s recent attack against the LGBT community in Orlando.
“We have a God-given right to defend ourselves, and firearms are an effective means of doing just that,” Chris Cox, executive director of the powerful NRA’s lobby group Institute for Legislative Action, said in an interview with ABC channel.
“The politicians who want to divert attention away from the underlying problems that suggest that we’re somehow to blame will pay a price for it,” he added, answering a question about how his company would use its US$14 million budget to handle possible gun control measures.
His inflammatory comments come days after Democrats in the U.S. senate staged a filibuster for more than 14 hours in order to force the majority-Republican senate to vote on two gun control measures. The filibuster ended when the Republican leadership agreed to allow the vote.
An NRA spokesperson told the New York Daily News that Cox’s comment were “pretty plain-spoken and (don't) really need clarification.”
It is no secret that the NRA uses its lobbying arm to target politicians and lawmakers with heavily-funded ads to tank their careers if they dare support gun control laws or advocate for it.
The shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, perpetrated by Omar Mateehn, a U.S. citizen who worked for the controversial G4S security company, has reignited a national debate on gun laws as many say the country’s loose gun laws are the main reason behind such attacks.
The NRA and many Republican politicians have been pushing for the “Islamist terrorism” angle and rejecting any notion that guns are to blame.
However, critics say that regardless of the motive, attackers' ability to obtain guns in the United States should still be at the center of debating the Orlando shooting.
Mateen used an AR-15 assault rifle which was used in the infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old.
The same gun was also used in the July 20, 2012 mass shooting which took place at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people.