CNN political commentator Van Jones said Thursday that young gun-control advocates see the National Rifle Association as an enemy on the level of the Ku Klux Klan.
Jones said the NRA's role in the debate over gun policy has been destructive overall, arguing that lawmakers are afraid to take steps to solve gun violence because the group may criticize them. Jones admitted, however, that he does not know what steps the government could take to make any progress.
"We haven't had the kind of innovation, experimentation, trying of things—I don't know of any of the things being proposed would make any difference at all yet," Jones said. "But we should know more than we know right now. We should have been able to try things and we haven't been able to."
Referring to the activists fighting for gun control in the wake of mass shootings, Jones said "a whole generation of young people" simply see the NRA as an enemy.
"You have a whole generation of young people who essentially see the NRA as their enemy," Jones said. "To them the NRA is like the KKK; it's just some hostile force that is against them, that's risking their lives."
Jones' comments come as students have taken a leading role in the gun-control fight following last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students have responded to the shooting in different ways, but media coverage has focused on the students calling for gun control.
Jones added that the students' fight for gun control is a fight "for their right to survive."
"These kids, they're not fighting for their future—they're fighting for their right to survive, to have a future," he said. "They do not see the NRA as a friend in that fight."
The NRA has come under fierce criticism from gun-control advocates, who see the organization as the principal opponent to new legislation. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects the NRA to work with lawmakers to toughen up gun laws.