The death of Amir Locke at the hands of police is an especially troubling set of circumstances, one that I think may well be something any of us could face under the right (wrong) set of circumstances.
Imagine lying in bed when people bust into the house, shouting. You’re startled awake and you go for your gun, only you’re killed because it’s really the police.
It’s troubling that something like this can happen, but also that it’s not the first time.
However, one public defender argues that it’s proof that black Americans don’t really have Second Amendment rights.
Legal Aid public defender Olayemi Olurin said Black Americans do not have gun rights while discussing the recent police shooting of Amir Locke, a Black man who was short in Minneapolis.
“What we see happen to Amir Locke, we’ve seen happen in a variation of ways, whether it be Philando Castile, whether it be Breonna Taylor, we’ve seen a variation of this,” Olurin said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “And it leads us to this conversation, ‘do Black people even have gun rights in America?’ And I would posit, no. If we’ve seen time and time again people are killed by police, whether they’re holding a cell phone, they’re holding CDs, they’re holding cigarettes, they’re holding nothing and [the police] say they’re holding a gun.”
“People shouldn’t have to go through this. People shouldn’t have to be subject to the idea that someone can enter your home and they can have a gun, they can have not announced themselves and you’re not even allowed to be afraid,” Olurin said.
Now, my initial reaction was to say that Olurin is completely right. We do have multiple high-profile cases were black Americans are killed by police while lawfully possessing a firearm.
But I took a step back and recognized that these events don’t truly represent the totality of gun ownership among black Americans.
There’s no doubt what happened to Amir Locke is awful. Law-abiding people being shot and killed by police for doing something that I have no doubt most of us would do under the same circumstances isn’t something we should tolerate.
Yet neither were the deaths of Philando Castile or Breonna Taylor, either.
What we lack are statistics for these kinds of fatalities so we can compare them in a meaninful way.
At the end of the day, though, all that matters is that no one should feel like they don’t have their Second Amendment rights. Further, no one should be killed simply for exercising those Second Amendment rights in a lawful way.
Regardless of whether this is a real problem or just a handful of relatively isolated incidents that seem to indicate a problem, something needs to be done. If a segement of our society doesn’t believe they actually have their rights–or, more accurately, cannot exercise them withour risking being killed because they do–then something needs to be done to address that.
For that, we need our gun rights groups to step up and make it clear this is unacceptable.
Now, with all that said, we’ve also seen several cases where the initial reports were flat-out wrong and the situation wasn’t what the media claimed. I would be remiss not to at least acknowledge that fact and that this may eventually turn out to be the case this time as well. It doesn’t seem to be, but only time will tell.
If so, I’ll stand corrected.
Either way, though, the problem Olurin mentions is still something we need to fix.