African Americans say that acknowledging they have a weapon can open them up to violence from police, who can then claim they feared for their lives simply because of the presence of a gun, even a legal one.
Gerry Martin of Pennsylvania isn’t sure he will ever tell a police officer during a traffic stop that he has a concealed-weapon permit — and possibly a weapon — on him, the Associated Press reports. The acquittal of a Minnesota officer in the death of a licensed gun owner who volunteered that he had a gun seconds before being fatally shot in a traffic stop adds to the worries of African-American gun owners about how they are treated by police and society. Acknowledging that they have a weapon, they said, can open them up to violence from police, who can then claim they feared for their lives simply because of the presence of a gun, even a legal one. “As soon as you say, ‘I’m a concealed carry holder. This is my license,’ they automatically are reaching for their gun thinking you’re going to draw your gun on them, once again not realizing you’re a good guy,” said Martin.
Philando Castile was fatally shot July 6 in a St. Paul suburb seconds after he told the officer he was armed. Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Latino, was acquitted Friday of manslaughter and two lesser charges. The verdict “tells African Americans across the country that they can be killed by police officers with impunity, even when they are following the law,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. The verdict also tells blacks that “the Second Amendment does not apply to them” because Castile “was honest with the officer about having a weapon in the car, and there is no evidence that he attempted to or intended to use the weapon against the officer,” Richmond said. Licensed gun owner and open-carry advocate Rick Ector of Detroit said stereotypes can cloud the minds of some officers when dealing with black gun owners. Officers may have had previous encounters with people carrying guns illegally, especially young black men.