Darwin Belliard is a Second Amendment supporter and a gun owner himself. As he says, “I’m all for everyone being armed.” But the army veteran and Louisville resident says that owning firearms isn’t enough when it comes to saving lives.
“I feel, as well as you can shoot, you should be able to plug holes, as well,” he told a local Louisville new station this week. WLKY-TV highlighted Belliard’s work in the community, which includes hosting a series of public classes over the summer teaching people how to treat gunshot wounds.
For Belliard, the mission was born out of personal experience.
It was the morning of Jan. 7, 2019, when Valley High School student Richard Harper was shot in a drive-by shooting while walking to his school bus stop on South 43rd Street.
That’s when Belliard — a military veteran — tried to offer his help.
“I went up, I’m like, ‘Hey guys, I’m EMT-certified and under Good Samaritan law, I can help this patient,’ and a police sergeant got right in front of me and said, ‘No, you need to go back in your house,’ and I just looked up and down and said, ‘Due to your lack of training, this child is going to die,'” Belliard said. “And the kid died later that day and I felt responsible for it.”
Obviously Harper’s death wasn’t Belliard’s fault. According to prosecutors, it was a teenager named Daryl Horton who bears responsibility. Horton, who was 17-years old at the time of Harper’s murder, was arrested for the crime in the summer of 2019, but apparently still hasn’t gone to trial. The last update I can find on the case is from February of 2020, when Harper’s mother was interviewed. According to that news report, Horton’s trial was supposed to begin last August, but there are no news reports of the trial taking place or Horton accepting a plea deal.
While the criminal justice system slowly creaks along, violence in Louisville continues to climb. Shootings are up 34% and homicides have increased by 50% compared to 2020, which was also far more violent than 2019. Unlike Belliard, who says “instead of us kidding ourselves and pointing fingers at Republicans or Democrats, we need to look at what we can do to become proactive with training and being able to help people in general,” Louisville’s police chief seems to believe that we can gun control our way to safety.
“No one wants to state the obvious, but it’s the availability of guns — especially in southern states where they have lax gun laws — and when people legally buy guns and do not secure them, they get stolen and this is where they end up,” [Chief Erika] Shields said.
If the “availability of guns” were the main cause of the city’s crime spike, then crime would be going up every single year. Instead, violent crime declined by more than 50% across the United States from the early 1990s until last year, even while tens of millions of firearms were legally purchased and millions of Americans embraced their Second Amendment rights for the first time.
In fact, the last time the United States saw a record-high number of gun sales was 2013. That same year homicides in Louisville declined to a ten-year low. There were 48 murders in Louisville that year, compared to 172 in 2020. The chief’s contention that “no one wants to state the obvious” is wrong. There are plenty of people who are eager to blame the current crime spike on increased gun sales. The problem is that there’s simply no evidence that’s the case.
With Louisville’s chief pointing her department in the wrong direction as far as fighting crime goes, I’m grateful that there are guys like Darwin Belliard out there who are doing what they can to help people stay safe and save lives. Louisville needs all the help it can get, especially if the city’s leaders are going to keep targeting guns instead of the individuals who are actually perpetrating the violence.