Be grateful we don’t have open carry laws here in Florida…yet.
The open carry bill that was presented before the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate failed to pass last legislative session. The bill would have allowed more than 1.5 million people with concealed weapons licenses in Florida to carry those weapons openly in public areas or private businesses that would allow it.
To take it one step farther, Republicans presented a bill that would allow people with concealed weapons licenses to carry those weapons on state and college university campuses. How would you like to send your kid to a college that allows that type of foolishness?
Last week, we lost two black men to police shootings. Alton Sterling was one. Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the street by an officer. The video of his murder was posted on social media by an eyewitness named Chris LeDay, who is an Atlanta native. Later, the man who posted the video was arrested. First, LeDay told The Source magazine, police arrested him because of battery, something he claims he knew nothing about. Yet, the final charge was for outstanding tickets. Another black man was killed in Minnesota.
The Minnesota man murdered was Philandro Castile, an elementary school lunchroom worker, who was shot and killed as he reached for his wallet to show the officer his identification. Diamond Reynolds, the eyewitness, said Castile, who was also her boyfriend, told the officer that he was licensed to carry and he had a gun on him. As he reached for his wallet, the officer saw the gun and fired off shots that killed Castile almost instantly.
As Castile lay slumped in the driver’s seat of his car, gasping for air, his white shirt soaked in blood which was running down the right side of his body and his arm torn nearly off, Reynolds recorded the tail end of the incident and live streamed it via Facebook’s live feature. We all watched Philandro Castile die with a 4-year old baby girl in the backseat of his car. The world is still shaken by how he died but why he died is debatable. Rallies and marches were held across the nation. During one of those rallies in Dallas, Texas, 11 officers were ambushed by a sniper and 5 were killed. The other six, wounded. The sniper sat tucked away in a building and shot the officers from afar while some protestors walked down the street with their guns slung across their bodies, showing the world they also had the right to openly carry weapons. But, when the shots were fired, those with guns instantly became suspects and if you put yourself in the shoes of the officers, they rightfully so became suspects. But, they weren’t guilty.
The sniper, who was not marching, was the lone gunman who took the lives of these officers and wounded several others. That gunman made every single man and woman carrying a gun a suspect. The same thing happens to many black people on a daily basis. We are suspicious because of a bias or prejudice that remains in the hearts and minds of some. There is no need for an open carry law to exist in any part of this country. But, let’s pretend there is, since evidently a majority of people seem to think so in parts of America.
If a black man legally is equipped with a gun and an officer sees that weapon, by law, he can feel threatened and shoot to kill. This is why, I am predicting, the officer who shot Castile will walk. He can say he feared for his life and maybe he really did. If so, who’s fault is that? I’ll tell you exactly whose fault it is. That blood lies on the hands of those who passed that bill into law without first considering or acknowledging we have a serious problem on our hands already. That problem is believed to be, the theory that some officers are afraid of black men and some black men are afraid of police officers. There is little to no trust between the two. We don’t have to overthink this as because it’s as simple as pie. Admitting it, is what seems to be the hardest part. Fear is what is killing black people at traffic stops and other places by SOME officers.
Simply, because of that terrible reality, black men who are licensed to carry weapons, can and will be, shot dead by someone feeling threatened. Until officers are not afraid of protecting and serving minority communities, they shouldn’t be patrolling those communities. At the moment which an officer is feeling threatened, he or she can take your life if you are carrying a weapon. There’s no way to differentiate whether or not that officer really felt threatened or whether or not the person with the gun was reaching for it.
For black people, open carry laws exacerbate the gun laws we currently are under. Black men and loud black women, we are already feared. If we carry a gun, we are instantly a triple threat. This is not to discourage you from being armed. It’s to let you know the real, raw, unadulterated truth. That truth is what took the life of Philandro Castile, a man good and patient enough to work around children. The laws are made to protect and should be interpreted by attorneys who can present it accurately to a jury.
I focused on black men mostly in this piece although I am well aware that black women also are victims from excessive force. I haven’t forgotten the Sandra Bland’s of the world and never will. The take away should be, our men are so very feared because they have so much to offer. They are the ones that are being forced by some, and please note some, people of all races, to be subject to oppression because they are talented, bright, smart, handsome and forceful. They are the backbone of our churches and the band that holds our families together.
Maybe we can’t understand each other in this country and maybe racism is too far gone to fix. But, I hope we can learn to at the very least, value the lives of one another so that we can live another day.