I want to talk about the shooting of Philando Castile.
I have no interest in talking about Alton Sterling. I have no interesting in the shooting of Castile AND Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, or Trayvon Martin. I do not want the shooting of Castile to become just another hashtag for #BLM to Mau-Mau with.
The essence of empathy is the ability to put yourself in another persons’ shoes. I am white, I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, I have no criminal record. I know enough not to resist the police. I feel confident that I won’t be sought after by cops for strong arming a convenience store.
The shooting of Philando Castile, on the other hand, sends a bolt of fear through my heart. I have concealed carry permits, I regularly carry concealed, I have gun that lives permanently in my glove box, and I have a wife and kid. This could have been me.
I don’t have any unique details of this shooting, only what has been made available on the news, but from what I read, this shooting seems to be the tragic combination of bad – but not malicious – acts of both Castile and the officer. This is critical to preventing future shootings of this type and is something I don’t want to get buried in BLM politics.
Here are the bad acts as I see them.
Castile announced that he had a gun THE WRONG WAY.
There are some states that require a CCW permit holder announce that they have a gun to police. Some states don’t require it, but I have been taught (and I believe) that it is best to announce anyway. The worst case is that a cop discovers your gun for himself.
The speech that I have practiced in my head over and over is – while holding the steering wheel with both hands – “Officer, I have a concealed carry permit. I am currently carrying. What would you like me to do?”
Now the cop knows 1) I have a permit, 2) I have a gun, 3) he is in control of the situation.
I have been pulled over a few times in my adult life. I have had a cop tell me to slowly get out my licence and permit. I have had a cop ask me to get out so he could secure my gun for the stop, which he returned to me unloaded at the end.
I believe that Castile announcing that he had a gun BEFORE announcing that he had a permit (his girlfriend actually said he had the permit) was his first mistake. Announcing he had a gun while moving was his second.
Neither mistake justified the shooting.
The officer (in my opinion) over reacted. If the girlfriend’s statement is correct, the officer asked for Castile’s licence and then told him not to move. These are contradictory commands. Castile was shot in the confusion between complying with the first and not complying with the second. I believe that the officer heard “gun” and got (for lack of a better way of describing it) tunnel vision. He didn’t hear or didn’t register that Castile had a permit. He reacted by drawing and shooting. The officer lost his composure, his ability to assess the situation accurately, and killed a man.
How much race played into this over reaction, I do not know.
However, there have been a number of examples of police over reacting in the presence of concealed carriers. The gun community is familiar with the now infamous Canton, Ohio police officer, Daniel Harless. Harless was caught on video, multiple times, threatening to murder concealed carry permit holders.
Then there is this traffic stop out of Florida. Watch how the interaction goes from relatively calm to the officer yelling, cursing, and threatening to shoot an elderly white man in the back when the officer discovers the man is carrying lawfully.
Then there is the case of the shooting of Army Veteran and West Point graduate Erik Scott. Scott was exiting a Costco and was shot by Las Vegas PD. Scott was given contradictory commands to both “get on [his] knees” and “drop [his] weapon” and was shot several times in the ensuing confusion.
I believe that these cases have more in common with the shooting of Castile than the shooting of Castile has with Michael Brown or Tamir Rice.
Some in the media are focusing entirely on the racial aspects of the Castile shooting, going as far as to claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to black people. Others, having overcome their temporary PTSD and bruised shoulder, blamed the NRA. This is ridiculous, offensive, and the wrong lesson to be learned.
The fact is concealed carry is skyrocketing. Several states have gone to permitless Constitutional Carry. This means that police are going to be interacting with more and more lawful concealed carriers. It is vital that the police adopt training and policies to avoid misunderstandings with carriers that turn violent.
Yes, carriers have a duty to be up-front with police. Yes, carriers should be careful in what they say to police to convey that they are armed. But a poorly worded sentence should not be a death sentence. “Officer, I have a gun on me…” shouldn’t result in a police shooting. There needs to be better protocols in place for police to handle concealed carriers with good intentions, allowing police to keep their composure in these type of situations.
Concealed carry is a right, a right that is being practiced by more and more people. It is vital for the safety of both armed citizens and police for systems to be put in place to prevent these over reactions and tragedies of errors. This is the real lesson to be learned from the death of Philando Castile.
Unfortunately, this lesson is going to be lost in the inevitable BLM activities and protests by the racial animus exacerbating, grievance mongering social justice crowd.