The National Rifle Association responded to Saturday's March for Our Lives protests by insisting it was organized by "gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites," not the survivors of the February Parkland, Florida high school shooting.
In a video posted on Thursday, NRA TV host Colion Noir told the survivors in a video entitled, "A March For Their Lies," that if there was no shooting at the school on Feb. 14, "no one would know your names."
Noir also points out that Blaine Gaskill, a school resource officer, helped bring Tuesday's Great Mills High School in Maryland to a quick end. Noir said that Gaskill stopped the shooting "before a single innocent life was lost because a good guy with a gun put an end to it." However, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey later died on Thursday after she was taken off life support.
"To all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else's Second Amendment at your march on Saturday, I wish a hero like Blaine had been at Marjory Douglas High School last month," Noir said in the video, notes CNN. "Because your classmates would still be alive and no one would know your names. And because the media would have completely and utterly ignored your story the way they ignored his."
The NRA did not tweet about the protests on Saturday, but the group has ramped up ad spending since the shooting. According to the Chicago Tribune, the NRA went on an ad-buying spree after pausing advertising for four days after the shooting. In the 24 days before the shooting, the NRA averaged $11,300 per day on ads, according to analyst company Pathmatics. After the silent period, the NRA averaged $47,300 a day. Most of the increase was spent on new Facebook advertisements.
Early Saturday, the NRA posted a short video to drive up membership, asking viewers to "Stand and Fight for Our Kinds' Safety by Joining NRA."
"Today's protests aren't spontaneous," the statement reads. "Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones."
The March for Our Lives was inspired by the survivors of the Parkland shooting, who have been speaking out for new gun control measures in the past month. They also inspired a National School Walkout protest on the one-month anniversary of the shooting.
On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old gunman who legally bought his weapons killed 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. During her speech on Saturday in Washington, D.C., student Emma Gonzalez stayed silent for six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took the gunman to kill 17 people.
"Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest," Gonzalez said. "Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job."