Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘nra’

Jeff Knox on the Philando Castile shooting verdict

Posted by Richard on June 24, 2017

Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Coalition and son of its founder Neal Knox, has written the best opinion piece I’ve seen about the acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile. You’ll recall that Castile was stopped because of a broken tail light. He informed Officer Yanez that he had a concealed carry license and a handgun. Here’s the dashcam video of what transpired:

I find it hard to believe that any reasonable, objective person who viewed the first five minutes of that video wouldn’t conclude that Officer Yanez couldn’t control his own fears, panicked, and acted irrationally and irresponsibly. He’s exactly the type of person who should never have a badge and a gun.  Here’s Jeff Knox’s take (emphasis in original):

Yanez demonstrated extremely poor judgment, failed to control a controllable situation, and let that situation take him out of control of himself. It’s always easy to play Monday morning quarterback and point out all of the things someone did wrong, and all of the things they should have done differently, but this is basic training stuff, and Yanez missed it.

Going over the transcript of the dash-cam video, the one word that might have changed everything, and was conspicuously absent, was the simple word “Stop.”

Of course, the dashcam video doesn’t resolve the key bone of contention in the case. Yanez claimed that Castile was pulling his gun out even as Castile insisted he wasn’t. Castile’s girlfriend claimed that he never touched his gun and was pulling out his wallet to present his driver’s license as instructed. Here’s Knox again (bold emphasis added):

… She also claims that when Yanez yelled “Don’t pull it out,” Castile stopped what he was doing and began moving his empty hands back toward the steering wheel, but Yanez began firing anyway.

Prosecutors pointed out that Yanez could have, and should have said something like “Freeze,” or “Put up your hands,” and critics have pointed out that Castile should have known to keep his hands on the wheel until he received specific instructions from Yanez. Both are right, and either of those actions by either of the men would probably have averted the tragedy. But Castile was apparently attempting to obey Yanez’s instructions, and it’s Yanez’s job to be in control of the situation. Seven shots fired at Castile, with a little girl sitting in the back seat, is not control. And though Yanez was only inches away from Castile, two of the seven shots missed him completely.

So Yanez is not only guilty of poor judgment, but of incredibly poor marksmanship as well. Missing completely from no more than a foot away? He must have closed his eyes when he started shooting!

Yanez’ defense attorney argued that Yanez was justified because he feared for his safety and that he was following police protocol. Knox notes that this reveals a larger problem (emphasis in original):

This points up a problem with police training focused on worst-case scenarios, and an irrational fear of anyone else being armed.

The former Chicago police commissioner, actually said that having concealed carry legal in the city would result in permit holders being shot by his officers, because he was training them that, when a gun is present, they should basically shoot first and ask questions later.

Knox goes on to explain one other simple thing Yanez should have done (besides remain calm and control his emotions) to avert the tragedy (emphasis in original):

Something else that was claimed by the defense attorney, was that Yanez couldn’t retreat, and that his only option was to shoot. Experienced officers will tell you that this is just not true. Taking a step toward the rear of the car would have not only taken Officer Yanez out of Castile’s direct line of sight, requiring him to awkwardly try to shoot over his left shoulder – if that was his intention – it would also have positioned him so that firing at Castile would not jeopardize the little girl in the back seat, or the woman in the passenger seat, and it would have created the extra moment needed to determine Castile’s intentions.

Finally, Knox explains, but doesn’t excuse, the NRA’s failure to get involved in the case and refutes the scurrilous charge that the organization’s silence is due to racism:

The NRA has a long record of staying away from violent criminal cases, and especially police shootings. The case of Erik Scott, who was shot down by police as he and his girlfriend exited a Costco in Las Vegas, is a prime example. Scott was white, a West Point graduate and decorated veteran, and licensed to carry concealed, but the NRA didn’t touch that case. Neither did they decry the killing of Jose Guerena, who was shot some 60 times in his own home during an unfounded, and terribly executed police raid in Tucson.

While many of us wish the NRA would get more involved in these cases, they feel they can do more good by helping to train officers better in dealing with armed citizens, and that taking a public stand in controversial police shooting cases, would only harm those efforts.

The NRA is responsible for training many, if not most, police firearms instructors and holds countless law enforcement training classes every year all across the country. They don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. Their thinking is analogous to the reluctance of many prosecutors to bring charges against police officers or use their best efforts in pursuing such charges: an adversarial relationship with the cops would hinder their ability to do their jobs. I understand such thinking, but it’s still wrong.

An honorable man does what he knows to be right even when it’s not in his best interests.

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“Freedom Fighters”: Douglass, Tubman, and guns

Posted by Richard on February 14, 2016

For Black History Month, the NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom published “Freedom Fighters,” a wonderful essay by Dave Kopel profiling Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, with an emphasis on their strong connection with the right to keep and bear arms.

Did you know that Frederick Douglass was the most photographed man of the 19th century, and that after the Civil War he served in three Republican administrations?

Did you know that Gen. Ambrose Burnside, the founding president of the NRA, was a leading advocate of armed black soldiers in the Union Army, and that Harriet Tubman was the first woman to lead an armed force in the war?

This is a marvelous read, and pulling a quote or two would be an injustice. You simply must read the whole thing.

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