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The NRA Shuns A Second Amendment Martyr

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The NRA Shuns A Second Amendment Martyr


Reprinted with permission from Creators.


Philando Castile did what you are supposed to do if you have a concealed-carry permit and get pulled over by police: He let the officer know he had a gun. Had Castile been less forthcoming, he would still be alive.

Last Friday, a Minnesota jury acquitted the cop who killed Castile of second-degree manslaughter, demonstrating once again how hard it is to hold police accountable when they use unnecessary force. The verdict also sends a chilling message to gun owners, since Castile is dead because he exercised his constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Jeronimo Yanez, an officer employed by the St. Anthony, Minnesota, police department, stopped Castile around 9 p.m. on July 6 in Falcon Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The official reason was a nonfunctioning brake light.

The actual reason, according to Yanez, was that Castile resembled a suspect in a convenience store robbery that had happened four days before in the same neighborhood. The full extent of the resemblance was that Castile, like the suspect, was black, wore glasses and dreadlocks, and had a “wide-set nose.”

Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria manager, had nothing to do with the robbery. But in Yanez’s mind, Castile posed a threat.

The traffic stop began politely but turned deadly within a minute. Audio and video of the encounter show that Yanez asked for Castile’s proof of insurance and driver’s license.

After Castile handed over his insurance card, he calmly informed Yanez, “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.” Yanez interrupted him, saying, “OK, don’t reach for it, then.”

Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, repeatedly assured the officer that Castile was not reaching for the weapon. But by now Yanez was in full panic mode.

“Don’t pull it out!” he screamed, immediately drawing his weapon and firing seven rounds into the car, heedless of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat. Mortally wounded, Castile moaned and said, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

Reynolds, who drew nationwide attention to the shooting by reporting it via Facebook Live immediately afterward, has consistently said Castile was reaching for his wallet to retrieve his driver’s license, per Yanez’s instructions. Yanez initially said he thought Castile was reaching for his gun; later he claimed to have seen Castile pulling out the pistol, which was found inside a front pocket on the right side of the dead man’s shorts.

Yanez clearly acted out of fear. The question is whether that fear was reasonable in the circumstances and whether deadly force was the only way to address it.

Jeffrey Noble, an expert on police procedure, testified that Yanez’s actions were “objectively unreasonable.” The officer had “absolutely no reason” to view Castile as a robbery suspect, Noble said, and could have mitigated the threat he perceived by telling Castile to put his hands on the dashboard or stepping back from the car window.

If Castile planned to shoot Yanez, why would he announce that he had a firearm? That disclosure was obviously aimed at avoiding trouble but had the opposite effect because Yanez was not thinking clearly.

Officers like Yanez, who is leaving his department under a “voluntary separation agreement,” pose a clear and present danger to law-abiding gun owners. Yet the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been curiously reticent about the case.

The day after the shooting, the NRA said “the reports from Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated.” It promised “the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.”

The reports have been investigated, and the facts are known. Yet the NRA has not added anything to the bland, noncommittal statement it made a year ago. You’d think “the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization” would have more to say about an innocent man who was killed for exercising his Second Amendment rights.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum. To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: NRA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, Friday, May 3, 2013 in Houston. (AP Photo/Steve Ueckert)




  1. Mooster75 June 22, 2017

    Did anyone expect different? Those of us who remember the one time the NRA supported gun control (out of fear of the Black Panthers) didn’t.

    1. youngju June 23, 2017

      Nonsense. Get a life.

      1. dbtheonly June 23, 2017

        Nonsense? California 1968.

        You can look it up.

        1. dpaano June 23, 2017

          He can’t be bothered to do his research…..typical!

      2. Mooster75 June 23, 2017

        My god…what a devastating retort! All I have on my side is facts; I’m helpless before your cutting wit!

    2. Erikarware June 23, 2017

      Last month i got paid 11 thousand dollars… I got that by doing easy freelance jobs from comfort of home for 3-4 hours/day that i got from agency I found online and i got paid by them $95/hr… And if i can do it so can you,try it out here

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 22, 2017

    “The verdict also sends a chilling message to gun owners, since Castile is dead because he exercised his constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

    There isn’t a chilling message for gun owners who happen to be “Africans” of white complexion, according to this pronouncement. For them there is no need to fear any reprisals because too many police are simply a reflection of the culture they grew up in as children, and will respond based on the inputs fed into them as children.

    Racism is the country’s national disease. To quote a Baha’i slogan someone had composed, “Racism, our national disease. Getting sick was not our fault, but getting well is our responsibility”.

    And amendments, laws, and eloquent speeches decrying racist practices won’t qualify as the medicines needed to heal the illness(racialism), and prevent its application and propagation—Racism, and from which derive actions like police who shoot primarily based on the visual cue of skin color in situations when individuals come face-to-face, and one face is black and the other a lighter skin tone.

    Shoghi Effendi addressed the Baha’i world regarding the dire events confronting America and the world, with the following words back in 1938. And which still apply today more than ever, and indirectly apply to all humanity, if they are to be faithful to the common themes and spiritual Message enshrined in all the major Religions, and the Traditions, revealed in the past and the present.

    “…Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.
    Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching—no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character—not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and skeptical age the supreme claim of the Abhá Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh.”

    The “eternal principles” cited aren’t just associated with Baha’u’llah, but were commonly held and put forth by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster, Muhammad, and a host of others like Them. [My editorial note].

    1. dbtheonly June 23, 2017

      Yes Aaron,

      There are times I expect the Amendment analysis to note that the State Militias were generally limited to white people in 1789. So the Amendment guarantees to every white person the right to have a gun.

  3. youngju June 23, 2017

    What kind of liberal rag is this, all pure trash.

    1. dpaano June 23, 2017

      Then go find a more RW media outlet to rant at and leave this so-called “liberal rag” to people with levels of intelligence that surely don’t match yours!

  4. jarhead1982 June 23, 2017

    So where was the NAACP when Erik Scott was lawfully carrying and shot by Vegas police in 2010?

    1. dpaano June 23, 2017

      Good question….

  5. jarhead1982 June 23, 2017

    Why is it that police shoot more whites than blacks every year per FBI and USDOJ data….

    1. 788eddie June 23, 2017

      I don’t know.

      Why are muslims who shoot whites called terrorists, but whites who shoot minorities called mentally ill?

      1. jarhead1982 June 23, 2017

        Are they BLM terrorists, open racist bigots demanding everything free because their great great great great great cousin was a slave….yes or no…..

        1. 788eddie June 24, 2017

          They’re both in the same boat to me, jarhead.

  6. Richard Prescott June 23, 2017

    Ah, nothing like the smell of festering trolls in the morning.
    Yanez over reacted, stereotyped Castille, whether he was racist or not was irrelevant. He shot without provocation, no sudden moves or anything.
    The jury should be tried and sentenced to 1 year hard labor.
    The NRA, yeah, that good old used to be good organization back in the 40s, 50s and 60s has morphed into a sick political organization that somehow does not care for all gun owner’s right, but only those who are white.

    1. warminphx June 23, 2017

      “…no sudden moves…”? He was reaching for something. Why would the cop say don’t reach for it and they said they have to. Maybe you had the volume turned down. Or you just have selective hearing.

      1. Richard Prescott June 23, 2017

        Well all I can hear mostly is the officer. There were words said after the red text saying “Well then do’t pull it out”. But if Castille was asked for his license and registration, just how is he supposed to comply. And looking at the video the officer already had his hand on his weapon and partially out as soon as he heard “I have a gun”.
        Maybe both sides should have acted better.
        But man, 7 shots at close range. Really. I am not anti-cop or anything, but this incident went from calm to crap in 5 seconds.

        1. warminphx June 23, 2017

          “7 shots…”. The understanding I have and it makes sense is in a high stress situation like this you don’t count shots, you fire until you feel the threat has been neutralized. In many instances the shooter say’s he fired 4-5 rounds and actually emptied his 15 round mag.
          And yes, I’ve watched many videos, calm to crap in a blink of an eye, cops shot before they can even draw their weapon.

          We have a local civil rights minister that agreed to complete three shooting scenarios police use for training. In two of them he shot unarmed men and the third he was shot before he ever drew his weapon. But he still refuses to change his position on officer shootings.

          1. dpaano June 26, 2017

            And, you try NOT to shoot into a car with a passenger in the front seat and a 4-year old child in the back! There could have been more individuals injured!

          2. warminphx June 26, 2017

            What was the cop suppose to do, call time out and have them leave the car? You do the best with what you have and your “could have” or what ifs don’t mean squat, no one else was injured. Castile is the one that put his family in danger, not the cop. Complying with officers instructions would go a long way.

      2. dpaano June 23, 2017

        Or maybe you just don’t know proper police procedure….do you think?

        1. Freodo June 23, 2017

          As a former police officer myself you should know not to make statements about a judgement call an officer had to make in a split second. Especially being a former police officer. Unless you sat behind a desk of course.

          1. dpaano June 26, 2017

            As a past officer for LAPD, if the person in the car said they had a weapon, the process was to have them step out of the car immediately, impound the weapon (whether it’s on his/her person or in the vehicle), and then proceed. Not sure where you live, but I’m sure each department has a different way of handling this. With more people having weapons nowadays and having permits to carry them, procedures change.

    2. johnmcv June 23, 2017

      Yes to all comments made ,RP. I do believe the NRA is going to make a statement soon.

  7. Diamondback June 23, 2017

    If the American People weren’t so ignorant of the Principles of Liberty upon which this nation was founded, but which have since been totally abandoned, this wouldn’t continue to happen. But our Public Fool’s System has conditioned the public to submit to their unlawful Police State.

  8. 788eddie June 23, 2017

    Why is it that Republicans say they support the Constitution, especially the second amendment, but appear to be blind to our current president’s stomping all over the Constitution’s Emoluments clause (not merely an amendment, but written into Article one, section 9) of the Constitution?

    Just Curious.

    1. dpaano June 23, 2017

      We all have the same question, along with many OTHER questions about this president that never seem to get answered.

  9. warminphx June 23, 2017

    “Castile did what you are supposed to do…”
    No, he didn’t, if he did, he’d still be alive.
    He handled the encounter all wrong and died for it.
    You do not blurt out you have a gun, then start reaching for something, ignoring the officers orders, this is big, FOLLOW OFFICERS INSTRUCTIONS.

    I have had many armed encounters with officers but I knew how to act.
    Here it is, when you get pulled over.
    1. Roll down your windows.
    2. Have your DL and permit in your hand with your hands on the wheel when the officer approches.
    3. Hand the officer your paperwork, making and maintaining eye contact while placing your hand back on the wheel.
    4. Follow instructions, The officer will ask where the weapon is, do not look away or reach for anything, maintain eye contact with hands on the wheel and tell him where it is. They will tell you what to do next, again follow instructions.

    Castile was ignorant, he should have learned in his permit class on how to act when encountering an officer.

    1. dpaano June 23, 2017

      As an ex-police officer myself, your comments are ridiculous! Philandro was reaching for his license, at the request of the officer, when he was shot. If the police officer was concerned about the gun, he should have asked the gentleman to step out of the car, frisked him, take the weapon from him and put it where it couldn’t be readily reached, and then deal with the problem. To shoot inside a car with a passenger AND a 4-year child is NOT police procedure. Nothing that this officer did was good police procedure!
      Had Philandro NOT told the office he had a gun in the car and had a permit, and had the officer later found the gun, this would have been a totally separate charge and he could have gone to jail. If you have a gun in your car, you MUST advise any police officer that stop you that you have that gun and where it is located. At this point, the police officer would have asked him to step out of the car per my above note. This whole incident was handled poorly by this officer, and it’s a good thing he separated from the force because he doesn’t have the smarts to be an officer!

      1. Freodo June 23, 2017

        Depends on what state you are in that you have to inform if you are carrying.

        1. dpaano June 26, 2017

          Different states have different laws. Things have changed considerably since more people are carrying and have permits to do so. Each department has their own procedure for this.

    2. johnmcv June 23, 2017

      Don’t be digging around for your wallet/permit…the po lice sees you fumbling around for “something” he may just unloading his magazines long before he gets to the car.

  10. Beethoven June 23, 2017

    The one most important thing to be learned from this incident is that if you are black, you should never have a gun in the car with you, because that will give an incompetent law enforcement officer an excuse to kill you.

  11. Freodo June 23, 2017

    I didn’t know not making a comment on an issue is now called “shunning” a comment.
    Let’s face it, the policeman and the driver made serious mistakes. Let’s not make it racial.

  12. fsilber June 23, 2017

    This was a coincidence of two factors not usually present. One is that the officer thought Castile might be the bank robber he was alerted to look for. The other is that Castile went for his permit — which looks the same as going for a gun.

    If either factor had not been present, Castile would still be alive. So some of the blame is rightly attributed to the bank robber who looked like Castile. Now, of course Castile didn’t deserve to die because he went for his permit, but he could have avoided it by simply keeping his hands on the wheel and letting the officer direct the action.

    1. dpaano June 26, 2017

      He did….the officer asked for his license and registration. How does he provide these if both hands are on the wheel. Again, once he informed the officer that he had a gun and a permit to carry, the officer should have had him stop out of the car, secured the weapon, and THEN asked for ID and registration, etc. Of course, none of us where there or know what was on the officer’s mind, but from the video, he didn’t follow procedure per California rules. Luckily enough, we don’t have many people here that carry guns, especially in their cars, unless they are law enforcement, etc. Even if you carry a gun in your car, the gun should be unloaded and the ammunition should be in a separate place; i.e., the trunk of the car.

      1. fsilber June 26, 2017

        Did the cop ask for license and registration before or after Castile informed him of the permit / gun? That makes a difference. There’s a difference between:
        1. “I have a gun”
        2. “License and registration please”
        3. (Reaches for license and registration)
        4. Shoots.

        1. “License and registration please.”
        2. “I have a permit to carry a gun” (starts reaching for it)
        3. “No, no, stop!”
        4. (Keeps reaching for license and registration)
        5. Shoots.

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