The NRA Needs to Speak Out on Philando Castille

Officer Jernimo Yanez points his firearm at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Minnesota Screencapture via YouTube

On Friday a jury acquitted law enforcement officer Jeronimo Yanez of manslaughter charges after he shot Philando Castile to death in Minnesota.

After the verdict was made public so too was dashcam video of the shooting, which you can watch below. I’ll warn you that it’s quite graphic and harrowing to watch.

It’s deeply troubling to me, based on this video, that Officer Yanez was acquitted. But there’s a gun rights issue at play here, too.

In the video you can clearly hear Mr. Castile telling Officer Yanez that he has a firearm in the car with him, something he had the requisite permits for. It is at that moment that things go down hill. Officer Yanez begins telling Castile not to reach for the weapon. What Castile is doing no video shows.

But every American citizen who exercises their right to keep and carry firearms ought to feel a chill down their spine at the video.

Castile was a lawful gun owner who was shot to death by a cop spooked by his possession of a firearm.

What’s troubling is that, outside of a milquetoast statement in the immediate aftermath of Castile’s death, the nation’s foremost proponent of gun rights has been silent on this issue.

Ensuring comity and understanding between law enforcement officials and gun-carrying citizens is an important aspect of the 2nd amendment debate. The NRA should be leading the discussion, but they’re not, perhaps because they’re given pause about the overarching politics of police violence against minorities.

If that’s the case, it’s a mark of shame for the NRA.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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