A routine traffic stop — your tail light is out. The officer walks to your car door. You inform the officer that you have a legal concealed firearm on your person. He tells you not to move, and you instinctively put your hands up. The officer then shoots you five times and you die, on film, in front of your girlfriend.
That doesn’t sound correct, does it? Something is wrong here, and hint, hint: it’s not Philando Castile failing to obey police orders.
Our justice system will ensure Castile’s death won’t go unnoticed, of course. This officer will surely experience the maximum penalty — several months paid leave, and a refusal to indict by a grand jury. We’ve heard the story a dozen times now, and it has played out hundreds of times outside the media spotlight.
One voice, however, in this case, ought to be speaking out, and speaking out loudly. We don’t usually think of them as an ally of progressive causes, hashtag Black Lives Matter or otherwise. They frequently draw the ire of progressives for their hard-line attitudes and refusal to compromise on the smallest of legislation. They’re the National Rifle Association, and in the day after this shooting, at press time, they have remained conspicuously silent.
A man was extra-judicially executed by an agent of the state for the crime of “possessing a legal concealed firearm while black.” Surely, if the organization is dedicated to protecting the second amendment rights of American citizens, ought they to be speaking out against this egregious violation?
Let’s travel back to 1967, before the assault weapons ban, before any tight gun control legislation. The Black Panthers decided to exercise their right to open carry in Oakland, California, because they felt threatened by the police. (Sound familiar?) Residents took offense, and a Republican state legislator introduced a bill to ban open carry. The Panthers marched on the state capitol, armed, to exercise their second amendment rights. The open carry ban was promptly signed into law by none other than Governor Ronald Wilson Reagan, and a spate of other gun control legislation was signed into law across the country — mostly by Republican legislators, the same ones now beholden to the NRA.
What does this serve to show? It’s not about the gun; it’s about who’s carrying it. Rural conservative whites can own firearms, while urban blacks cannot, according to our political system.
An innocent man was turned into a hashtag because he exercised his second amendment right to carry a firearm. Is this not the dystopian nightmare future the NRA has warned us about? Their silence is louder than any lukewarm statement. If the NRA truly wishes to be an organization which represents all gun owners, and not just white ones, they should be the first to speak up and condemn this crime in the strongest terms.