Disclaimer: I am a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a progressive democrat. I think we should try to prevent the deaths of the 30,000 people who fall to gun violence by legislating firearms restrictions. (CDC, 2016) However, this is not the current reality; therefore, I want to briefly discuss what I believe to be the hypocrisy of gun rights advocacy in this country. And I am especially talking to military veterans because it is my perception that the majority of veterans in this country want more rights to firearm accessibility, not less.
Imagine you are pulled over by the police, when the police officer approaches your window you inform that officer that you are licensed to carry a firearm. You might expect the officer to politely disarm you of your weapon to ensure you are telling the truth and then send you on your way. Instead, the officer points a gun at you, shouts at you, and subsequently shoots you. This situation is not hypothetical; this exact encounter happened to Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. “But he was a criminal” you might think; in fact, Castile was not guilty of any crime. (The New York Times, 2016) He was shot for legally carrying a firearm in the state of Minnesota, an open-carry state. (OpenCarry.org)
Now let us head to North Carolina, a state I was stationed in as many Marines are. A state where Keith Lamont Scott was sitting in his car minding his own business. Police happened to be in the area looking for someone when they confronted Scott because they allege he was conducting illegal activities and bearing a firearm, though he was unrelated to their manhunt. In the ensuing confrontation Scott was shot and killed by the police, for no apparent reason other than bearing a firearm. This is a conclusion I drew from the account given by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. (Washington Post, 2016) I would also like to point out that carrying a firearm in North Carolina is not a crime; in fact, North Carolina is also an open-carry state. (OpenCarry.org)
Why were Mr. Castile and Mr. Scott shot and killed for bearing a firearm in the United States? Where is the outrage from gun-rights advocates? Was it because both men were black? I think so. If you disagree with me then I would ask you to apply the pro-gun rhetoric you tout in defense of your own right to bear a firearm to the situations of both Mr. Castile and Mr. Scott. Because the silence of gun-rights advocates in light the deaths of both these men is deeply disturbing and hypocritical (attention: NRA). Even if an investigation undoubtedly proves that the police were justified in confronting Mr. Scott, I think you would agree with me when I say that he did not deserve to die for carrying a firearm.
Military veterans have enormous influence in this country; so I ask you, veteran to veteran, to speak out in defense of your fellow Americans. As I said before, I want to curb gun violence by enacting more restrictions on firearms. We have become numb to gun violence and I do not want anyone to die at the hands of someone who should not have had a firearm in the first place. But as long as we have a constitutional right to bear arms, it should be enforced equally and applied to everyone.