Having a gun isn’t enough.
If you own a firearm, you also need to be trained in how to use it. Note, I said how you use it, not just how to operate it. While learning how to operate a firearm is important, actually using a gun goes far beyond that. It also means knowing how and when to deploy a firearm.
Part of that is to learn how to identify actual threats.
In Arkansas, a woman is under fire (no pun intended) for holding four fundraising teens at gunpoint. The fact that she was white and all four were black isn’t helping matters, either.
The wife of an Arkansas jail administrator was arrested and charged with assault several days after police say she pulled a gun on four black teenagers who were going door to door to raise money for their high school football team.
Police in the eastern Arkansas city of Wynne, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock, said the incident happened Aug. 7. Police responding to reports of “suspicious persons” found the four children on the ground, with Jerri Kelly, who is white, standing over them holding a gun, Memphis TV station WMC reported.
The officer let the children stand up, and they told him they had been selling discount cards to raise money for a school athletic program. The Wynne School District said two of the four children were wearing football jerseys.
Kelly, 46, was charged Monday with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Cross County Sheriff’s Department Captain Jeff Nichols said a warrant was put out for Kelly’s arrest, and she turned herself in Monday evening. She was released that night on $10,000 bond.
Now, obviously, there’s more to this story. Did race play a role, as is implied in this story? Not knowing any of the people involved, I can’t say for certain. I doubt it played a conscious role, though.
However, Kelly apparently drew a firearm in a situation where it wasn’t warranted. Allegedly.
We don’t know precisely why she drew it, but it seems clear these four teens weren’t a threat to her or anyone else. That means she drew when she didn’t need to, and frankly, it doesn’t matter so much if it was racially motivated or not, she still used a firearm improperly. She drew a gun when there was no threat, and that’s something we as a community cannot afford to tolerate.
As for the racial angle, well…look, I can’t read people’s minds. I don’t know what Kelly was thinking. If there was a racial angle, I hope Kelly can learn to see past that, but if there isn’t, it won’t matter. The media has already implied that she’s racist, so that will follow with her in her community for years to come.
She may well have reacted the same way if it had bee four young white teens. I’m doubtful, for a number of reasons, but it’s possible. The reason I’m doubtful is that while race may not have played a factor in Kelly’s decision to draw, there may well have been cultural cues that put her on the defensive. It’s not race, but how someone carries themselves.
Make no mistake, it still looks like she still shouldn’t have drawn her weapon. Of course, that’s based on what looks to be a heavily biased media report, so take all of this with a grain of salt, something I’m not sure I’m doing particularly well, to be fair.
Look, in this day and age, if you’re going to have a gun, you need to do everything you can to make sure you do everything perfectly in such a situation because you will be examined.
Get trained on how to use your gun. Learn how to correctly identify threats. Make damn sure you know who isn’t a threat.