NRA expresses 'deepest sympathies' to families and victims of El Paso, Dayton shootings

The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Sunday expressed its "deepest sympathies" for the victims and their families of the two mass shootings that rocked America over the weekend.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims of these tragedies, as well as the entire communities of El Paso and Dayton,” Andrew Arulanandam, head of the organization's public affairs department, said in a statement. “On behalf of our millions of members, we salute the courage of the first responders and others offering their services during this time.”

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“The NRA is committed to the safe and lawful use of firearms by those exercising their Second Amendment freedoms. We will not participate in the politicizing of these tragedies but, as always, we will work in good faith to pursue real solutions that protect us all from people who commit these horrific acts.”

A gunman killed 20 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.

Less than a day later, at least nine people were killed and more than two dozen were injured in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The two shootings are not believed to be linked.

Both shootings involved assault-style weapons.

Democrats have long criticized the NRA, the nation’s most powerful gun rights lobby, for opposing firearm restrictions.

A universal background check bill, passed by the House, is currently stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

This latest spate of mass shootings also comes amid internal turmoil within the NRA. Former NRA President Oliver NorthOliver Laurence NorthFiling shows pay for top NRA officials surges as key program spending declined: report Five landmark moments of testimony to Congress New York sues NRA's former ad agency over subpoena MORE announced he was leaving the group in April amid reports of problems between him and chief executive Wayne LaPierre.

Its top lobbyist since 2002, Chris Cox, stepped down in June after The New York Times reported the group accused him of trying to extort LaPierre, allegations Cox denied as “offensive and patently false.”