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FCC chair gets 'courage under fire' award for overseeing net neutrality repeal

(CNN) The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was awarded a handmade rifle by the National Rifle Association Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Ajit Pai, the FCC's chairman who oversaw the highly controversial repeal of the commission's net neutrality rules last year, was awarded the rifle, along with the NRA's "Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award," for his efforts last year during the repeal.

The award came as a surprise to Pai, who was expecting to give a speech unrelated to the NRA. The rifle is awarded "when someone has stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline," said Carolyn Meadows, the second vice-president of the NRA.

Meadows added that she was unable to bring the gun onstage, due to CPAC's rules regarding weapons.

Instead, she said, the rifle -- a Kentucky handmade long gun-- will remain at the NRA's museum until Pai is able to get it.

"You'll love it," Meadows told Pai.

Pai came under harsh criticism last year after he supported the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality rules. Before receiving the award, Dan Schneider, the American Conservative Union's executive director, said Pai is "the most courageous, heroic person I know."

"He has received countless death threats. His property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd," Schneider said. "He has a family, and his family has been abused in different ways."

Past recipients of the award include Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly and Vice President Mike Pence.