Will We See NRA Outrage Over The Police Murder of A Legally Armed Black Motorist?

Philando Castile’s Girlfriend Claims He Notified Police He Was Licensed To Carry

Not even a day after the nation began to process the shooting death of Alton Sterling while being restrained by Baton Rogue police officers, we’re waking up to another tragic death of an African-American man, likewise caught on camera. Philando Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor, was allegedly shot four times during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, this is what’s known in the early hours after the shooting:

• Police made a traffic stop around 9 p.m. near the intersection of Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street in Falcon Heights.

• An officer fired his weapon and struck the man, who was a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul.

• Castile was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he died at 9:37 p.m.

• In the moments after the shooting, a woman who was in the car with Castile shot a video with her cellphone and live-streamed it on Facebook from an account linked to Lavish Reynolds.

The live-streamed video is what’s fueling the discussion and outrage at the moment, as the woman who recorded the incident was a front seat passenger during the traffic stop that led to Castile’s death. Furthermore, there has been little information beyond the obvious issued by the police department at the moment, as the Tribune notes:

St. Anthony interim police chief Jon Mangseth read a statement in which he confirmed a St. Anthony police officer pulled an individual over for a traffic stop. “During the stop, shots were fired,” he said. He did not name the individual, but said that an adult male had died. 

“He’s Licensed To Carry”

 Reiterating once again that while this is solely one person’s account of the incident, unfortunately, it’s the only side that the public has been made aware of at this hour. And what we hear on the tape is simply horrifying:

“Stay with me… We got pulled over for a busted taillight in the back and the police just…he, he’s covered – they killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed, he’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID in his wallet out of his pocket, and he let the officer know that he was… that he had a firearm and that he was reaching for his wallet. And the officer just shot him in his arm.”

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It didn’t take long for the video to go viral and an organic protest to emerge outside of the Governor’s Mansion in nearby Saint Paul, MN. Social media documented the demonstrations which carried well past daybreak:

 

If The Facts Hold Up, Will The NRA Demand Justice?

Police shootings in America are often clouded with many shades of gray. Even in an age when just about every civilian is carrying high-definition recording instruments in their pockets and every street is littered with private surveillance equipment, judges and juries have routinely given law enforcement the benefit of the doubt. Often the pro-enforcement media outlets and unions will engage in smear campaigns using prior charges against the victims, and on occasion, the communities that feel slighted by the outcomes will respond with varying degrees of civil unrest.

But while on the surface, this fits an easy narrative of yet another person of color being murdered during a routine interaction with law enforcement, there’s a hot button issue bubbling right below the surface: open carry.

Taking the woman on camera at her word, Castile notified the officer that he was licensed to carry a firearm and was “practicing” that right, as one is required to do in a situation. If the police officer felt threatened by Castile’s legally purchased and legally concealed handgun and used that threat to justify discharging his weapon at the motorist four times, how do we reconcile that with the NRA’s beloved 2nd Amendment Rights?

The NRA raises millions of dollars off their mythical “Good Guy With A Gun” — money they use to purchase politicians to ensure there are enough bad guys with guns too! What would the association’s reaction be to a deadly confrontation between one GGWAG (the police) and another GGWAG (fully licensed and legally carrying motorist)? Maybe they’d be forced to admit that not every instance is as black and white when it comes to gun laws as they claim?

Or, maybe it unfortunately is.

Featured image courtesy of Tony Webster (@webster) on Twitter. 

Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed's work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below...but not Snapchat — that's where he's decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)