COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The National Rifle Association says it is supporting South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster in his election bid.

Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund, said in a letter dated Thursday McMaster received an "A'' rating, calling the endorsement "a reflection of your years of strong support for the Second Amendment rights of South Carolinians."

Cox wrote that because of McMaster's efforts, South Carolina's concealed carry permit holders are able to protect themselves and their families.

McMaster called the NRA "a highly-respected organization" and said he was proud to receive its endorsement.

McMaster, who became governor when Nikki Haley left to become U.N. ambassador, will face John Warren, Catherine Templeton, Lt. Gov Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill in the Republican primary on June 12.