Botham Jean’s Death Shows NRA Still Doesn’t Care About Black People
A few years ago, I worked for an African American news website. During that period, I got to write a lot about police shootings. This was the time of the shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Sandra Bland, who was arrested on traffic charges, and later died in jail. Needless to say, it got dark very quickly. I remember having a conversation with my editor about an update on a police shooting story, and I said, “which one?”
I talked to a fellow reporter who had covered the police beat about this. She said that I should watch out for depression doing that kind of work.
So I wasn’t surprised when I read an article in The Lancet, a medical journal, that said police shootings traumatize the entire black community. Social media has both helped and exacerbated the problem. On one hand it’s easier for people to publicize these shootings, but on the other hand these shootings are everywhere and on a constant loop.
I finally had to stop watching the shooting of Philando Castile. In case you forgot, Castile was shot dead by St. Anthony, Minn. police officer Jeronimo Yanez, during a 2016 police stop. He had a licensed gun on his body and had informed the police officer that he was carrying. His murder was live streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was sitting next to him with her child.
The death bothered me for several reasons. Firstly, you’re watching a man die. That red stain on his chest is not ketchup or some Hollywood effect. It’s real blood. Those screams are not acting, it’s a man in his death throes. I found the whole thing to be invasive and obscene.
And the aftermath of Castile’s death was just as bad. The police followed their usual pattern of smearing the victim. They released a medical report that showed he had traces of marijuana in his system and also released his criminal record, which showed a string of minor traffic offenses — as if that justified capital punishment. And Ynez was exonerated.
But even worse was the response — or non response — from the National Rifle Association. They said nothing. Crickets. So a licensed gun owner was shot dead by a government official, and the paranoid, government-hating NRA doesn’t say a peep? This should have been their bread and butter — but Castile was black. The NRA eventually released a statement blaming Castile for using marijuana and saying his gun license should have been suspended.
If Castile had been white, the NRA and other gun enthusiasts would have marched in the streets and complained about an American punished for exercising his Second Amendment rights.
In 2016, I wrote an article on the rising number of black gun owners, who were arming themselves in the wake of the rise of Donald Trump. Phillip Smith, president of the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA,) told me that the NRA alienates many black gun enthusiasts. He said the NRA does not “support positive gun ownership for people of color.”
Basically, the NRA is the mouthpiece for white gun owners, who really don’t care about black men getting killed by the police.
Those words still ring true in the wake of the death of Botham Jean, a Dallas resident who was shot dead in his own home by Police Officer Amber Guyger. (Guyger claims she entered the wrong home by mistake.) NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch claims Jean should have been armed and protected himself.
“You know, this could have been very different if Botham Jean had been, say, he was a law-abiding gun owner and he saw somebody comin
g into his apartment,” said NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch on NRATV. “I mean, if I see somebody coming into my house, and I’m not expecting them, and they’re walking in like they own the place, I mean — I would, I would act to defend myself. And this could have [gone] very differently had he actually had a firearm on him.”
So they’re still on the side of the police and really don’t care about black people!