Gun Rights, Race, and Military Veterans

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.

 

References:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf

http://www.opencarry.org/state-info-n-s/minnesota/

North Carolina

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/us/philando-castile

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/09/22/state-of-emergency-in-charlotte-after-man-shot-during-second-night-of-protests/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.e8ebdf3ac0be

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6 Responses to Gun Rights, Race, and Military Veterans

  1. offthewals says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not a republican (nor do I in any way associate myself with the NRA) and I was raised by a mom who is both a Latina and an air force veteran. I think we should try and prevent unnecessary deaths by enforcing the laws we have now and giving harsher penalties to people who use a gun during a criminal act. I want to briefly discuss the false reporting by criminals, their families and the media continuing to report these false statements in order to get better ratings. I am talking to everyone in the United States that wants to abide by our Constitution, not just certain classes of people.

    Imagine you are pulled over by a police officer for a minor offense. The officer that is approaching usually has no idea who they are pulling over or what the background of the person is. If the officer wants to increase his odds of going home at the end of shift he will approach the car with caution and be prepared to elevate or de-escalate the amount of force they are using. That could mean going from verbal force to deadly force or something in between within a second. Most law abiding citizens are going to do what the officer asks so both of them can go home safely.

    In your first example you discuss the case of Philandro Castile of Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Let me start by pointing out that the officer involved was American Indian/Hispanic. You claim that Mr. Castile was shot for legally carrying a firearm. Unfortunately, you are only repeating information from Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, who has every reason (especially financial) to lie about what exactly happened. Listen to the police tapes and you can hear Officer Yanez state that subject in the car matches the description of an armed robbery suspect and request another officer for backup. Officer Yanez was one of the investigating officers on the armed robbery case and if you look at the surveillance pictures Mr. Castile looks very similar to the picture. Mr. Castile had a handgun on his lap when the officer approached the car. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend (not fiancée as she claimed, she thought he was 35 he was 32) recorded the officer saying “F**k, I told him not to reach for it, I told him to get his hands off of it”. The girlfriend, Diamond (Lavish as she calls herself) Reynolds, wanted us to believe that the officer was talking about Mr. Castile’s wallet. Ms. Reynolds lied about the officers not giving Mr. Castile first aid (a neighbor video officers performing first aid), about her being held by police all night (it was approximately two hours in a soft interview room, it had toys, books and blankets, not used for criminal interrogations.). She said he had no criminal record. He did not have any felonies but was given over 50 citations for traffic offenses. Ms. Reynolds mother calls her a “narcissistic Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat junkie”. Ms. Reynolds filmed herself twice smoking marijuana in a car with Mr. Castile and her four year child in the backseat. She also filmed herself drinking Hennessy while in a moving vehicle (June 15th). June 8th she filmed herself announcing she was pregnant with a baby boy (she was drinking and smoking marijuana when she knew she was pregnant). Seeconservativetribune.com for videos. Ms. Reynolds started a “GoFundMe” account for this incident and has been given over $56,000 already. Ms. Reynolds has been partially responsible for the protests across the country including the one in Dallas Texas where officers were protecting their right to protests and five were murdered. I do not know if the shooting was justified as I was not there, but I do believe there is reason to doubt Ms. Reynolds account of what happened.

    Now let’s talk about the North Carolina shooting with Mr. Keith Lamont Scott where the officer involved was African American (so isn’t the police chief). Officers were on surveillance about to serve a warrant for an unrelated suspect. Two officers in an unmarked vehicle were on surveillance when they saw Mr. Scott sitting in the vehicle next to them with a blunt and a handgun. Mr. Scott may have been minding his own business but was committing two felonies in public open view of two police officers. If an officer observes someone committing a felony I would hope the public would want them to investigate the incident. The officers requested a marked vehicle to contact Mr. Scott while they put on their “raid vests” which identify them as officers. With the marked unit there the officers attempted to make contact with Mr. Scott. With Mr. Scotts wife filming the incident and telling the officers he does not have a gun and has disabilities Mr. Scott gets out of his vehicle holding the gun and refusing commands by the police to drop the gun. Most law abiding citizens for one would not be smoking a blunt while in possession of a firearm and two would not take it out of the car with them when the police are making contact and three would drop the weapon when told. To make things worse, Mr. Scott actually shot at officers in 2005 in Texas. Again, you have the family stating that the alleged victim was innocent and only reading a book in the vehicle. The family also stated that he did not have a gun. In this situation, there were two trained police officers observing a criminal act and doing their job and investigating that criminal act. Evidence shows that Mr. Scott had a gun with his fingerprints on it. The media continues to put the lies that the family is saying out to the public which again caused riots, looting and even another death. All this for police doing their job. To make this one worse, Mr. Scott had a criminal record that spanned three states, Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina. He had arrests for assault, evading arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. Again I was not there, but I wait to see the evidence before I come to a conclusion and try to arrest officers for doing their job and using that as an excuse to riot, loot, beat innocent people.

    The media is also partially responsible because they continually air clips of lies that these people are saying to get better ratings. BLM was founded because of the Ferguson Missouri shooting that continually aired lies about what had happened. Look at the scientific evidence and the officers account about what had happened was true. The officer’s life will never be the same and he will always have to look over his shoulder of someone that may want to kill him (police in Ferguson make $28,000 a year). Would you want that job? Plus, the alleged victim had just committed a strong armed robbery of a convenience store and this fact was not put on the news.

    People like you are part of the problem and not the solution. You don’t use real, tangible facts for your information.

    Regarding more gun laws, the laws currently on the books would keep guns out of criminal hands but the justice system does not or cannot keep these criminals behind bars long enough. If you use a gun to commit a crime you should be sent away for a very long time so you cannot keep repeating crimes with guns. Don’t take guns away from law abiding citizens who can use the guns to protect themselves. The average time it takes police to respond to a 911 call is 11 minutes. That is a long time to wait for help (watch the clock for 11 minutes and imagine if a violent crime was happening for that entire time, unless you’re better armed you will probably lose). Would you want your mother, father, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, daughter or son waiting 11 minutes for help in an emergency situation?

    Also, you only gave partial information regarding the 30,000 deaths per year to gun violence. You conveniently failed to mention that 13,286 people were actually killed by firearms (excluding suicide). That is still a high number but not anywhere near the 30,000 you put out there (this is what I mean by being part of the problem). Gun violence is most common in poor urban areas and frequently associated with gang violence. There are laws that prohibit the sale of a shotgun or rifle to anyone under 18, or handguns to anyone under 21 from licensed dealers. Plus, if you are a convicted felon you cannot possess a firearm, legally. We have to enforce the laws we have and if they are willing to use a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime they should not be back on the streets for a very long time.

    Mr. Scott from North Carolina was a convicted felon. Mr. Castile was not a convicted felon but was a drug user and had numerous run ins with police which may have added to his actions when confronted that night. If they would not have had a fire arm or would have listened to police commands during the encounters both suspects would be alive today.

    The very majority of police officers are good and should be given support. What the courts take months to decide on the actions of a police officer that officer has only a split second to make a decision that could decide if they go home after shift.

    I believe we should not disarm law abiding citizens because if you do only criminals will have guns and they will have nothing to fear while making you the victim of their violent crime.

    • Ryan Wadding says:

      Hi, I’m the guy who wrote this post. Hopefully by reading it and by checking out other new sites to counter my arguments with, you are now aware that this is an actual issue if you were not already aware. My point of this piece was: it is a fact that both these men had a firearm and were killed for having a firearm; why then are gun-rights advocates not upset? I specifically directed my blog post to veterans who I have encouraged to visit the site because I know they deeply care about gun rights and I want them to consider my argument. There also seems to be a pattern that goes like this: 1) black male is killed by a police officer; 2) conservatives and the media tout a criminal past of the victim; 3) the police investigate the police; 4) police officer walks free. This upsets people because it seems as though justice is never served. You can disagree, but the entire Black Lives Matter movement proves my point; people are upset about a perceived lack of justice. But I am getting off my original point, which is possessing a firearm and being black does not warrant death. This is a problem, and yes I am part of the problem because we all are. I am not going to argue with you about gun legislation because the only reason I brought it up was to make a distinction between my personal feelings and my defense of gun-rights for the purpose of my argument. Thank you for your comment.

      • offthewals says:

        Ryan, I never meant to offend and I’m sorry if I did. Also, I never meant to imply that there are not racist people out there. I just wanted to point out that it’s wrong to assume that cops are racists pigs. Most of them became cops for the same reason people become doctors- they want to help people. All people. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever. This doesn’t mean that there are not dirty cops. But that number is incredibly insignificant, and it should have no reflection on cops in general. I agree, being black and possessing a firearm does not warrant death.However, in the situations you presented, those men were not shot because they were black. If you read through my post you know this already. Besides, both of the black men who were shot were shot by minority cops (one was black and the other Hispanic). There are two sides to every story and I am extreamly aware of both. I try to approach every topic from a neutral perspective before I form any opinions. The media is very biased and only presents one side of the story and, for whatever reason, is creating a culture of cop hating. In my opinion, people just need to stop throwing around accusations and stop attacking each other. Skin color is just that- skin color. it doesn’t matter what color you are and frankly I don’t think most people give a damn about what race everyone else is. This sort of thinking is creating tension between races and it needs to stop.

        Sorry I didn’t respond earlier, I didn’t see any of the responses.

  2. offthewals says:

    Oh and these are just some quick facts:

    “According to data compiled by The Washington Post in 2015, 50% of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26% were black.”

    “blacks were charged with 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults in the 75 biggest counties in the country, despite only comprising roughly 15 percent of the population in these counties.”

    “Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely (3.3 times more likely) to fire a gun at blacks than white officers.”

    “a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing a black person.”

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/7264/5-statistics-you-need-know-about-cops-killing-aaron-bandler#

  3. First, I wanted to thank you for your service Ryan, and for upholding your oath to protect your fellow citizens from all enemies, especially when it costs to speak up.
    “I ask you, veteran to veteran, to speak out in defense of your fellow Americans.” This is the best quote of your post. It takes bravery to speak up, and it takes cowardice to sit idly by.
    There is a long way to go to solve the problem of racial bias -internal, external, and institutional-,but we have to start from somewhere. I salute you for using your privilege to uplift other oppressed groups, I feel that it is a nobler and higher service you are providing for your society. This definitely is part of the process to heal.
    I understand the main point you were trying to make, which is the racial discrimination in dealing with gun rights in this country, and I totally get the examples you gave to support your overarching argument. But just in case some trigger-happy racially but unconsciously blinded to the truth about the examples you gave, let me give you some other aspects of the point you make. Many social experiments proved how law enforcement officers deal differently with individuals and groups exercising the same right to keep and bear arms. The Black Panther Party (which was vilified by the notorious J.E. Hoover, and which unclassified documents proved that they were targeted specifically because of the fact that they Black Men with Guns.)
    Or the example of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy who was shot to death by law enforcement agents in Ohio while playing with a BB gun). And just to cut the road on anybody who wants to claim that the officer thought it was a real gun, the answer is that even if it was a real gun, he has the right to carry because Ohio is an open carry state. Unfortunately, not everybody is equipped to look critically at the “blue shield of silence”, which crosses through all communities.
    Cheers!

    • Ryan Wadding says:

      Thank you for the kind words, friend. And thank you for the additional examples you gave. I hope the point I was trying to make is clear; I’m still learning how to properly articulate my arguments, but that is why I am in school right? And you are correct, not everyone is equipped to look critically at the law enforcement culture in this country. We have a long road ahead of us but I believe defeating racial biasis is not impossible. I do recognize the privilege I hold in this country as a white male and military veteran and I will continue to use that status to defend and hopefully empower others. Thank you for your comment. Cheers!

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