The National Rifle Association, in its quest to make guns freely available to Americans with as few restrictions as possible, held its convention in Dallas recently. The hypocrisy on display there, like the guns themselves, seemingly knew no bounds.
First, the NRA banned personal guns at its own convention, even as it seeks to protect gun ownership and open carry laws. Now it seems only a certain type of American (read: not black) is fit for the NRA's advocacy.
A tone-deaf seminar, “Armed Citizen: How to Interact with Law Enforcement,” conducted by Glen Hoyer, failed to address the biggest problem of all: police gunning down black people.
Hoyer, a career law enforcement officer, currently works as the director of the NRA’s Law Enforcement Division and explained the best ways to deal with police while carrying a gun.
He mentioned how people should keep their arms in the air while carrying an arm and should inform the officers of the weapon. He also told his audience, should they be stopped by a police officer while arm, to ask the cops what they would like them to do.
“Just stay calm,” Hoyer told his audience. “At a traffic stop you may know why they’re stopping you [but you may not]… Keep your hands in sight and tell them, ‘Officer, I’m a concealed carry holder. I’ve got a firearm on me’ or whatever the case may be, calmly tell them, ‘Yes I am armed.'”
However, what Hoyer forgot to mention over the course of one hour was the most pertinent and disturbing topic of how black people have been mistreated by law enforcement officials.
In certain cases, even after black men tried cooperating with the cops, they still faced deadly consequences. Philando Castile, for instance, did something similar in July 2016 to what Hoyer advised. Now he's dead.
Officers stopped Castile at a traffic stop, but just as Castile was calmly reaching for his wallet, the officer opened fire, claiming he thought Castile was reaching for his gun. Castile had already told the officer he had a conceal carry permit for a firearm before reaching for his wallet. The police officers still shot him seven times in front of his fiancée and her 4-year-old daughter, who were in the car with him.
The NRA didn’t say a word condemning this police shooting at the time and ignored this major issue again at the convention.
Hoyer also didn’t mention several other unarmed African-American men who were brutally killed by police officers. This year, cops in New York City fatally shot a black man in the middle of the street after mistaking a piece of metal pipe for a firearm. His name was Saheed Vassell, a 36-year-old Muslim father, who reportedly suffered from mental health issues. He was shot at 10 times.
The NRA also did not say a word about how the Sacramento police officers killed a 22-year-old black man in his own backyard, thinking he was armed. Stephon Clark wasn’t armed. But the police officers fired 20 rounds at the harmless African-American, only to later discover an iPhone lying near his dead body.
Moreover, the nation’s largest gun lobby conveniently forgot to mention Siwatu-Salama Ra, a black woman who brandished a gun to protect herself, her 2-year-old daughter and her mother, from an attacker who was allegedly harassing the family and attempted to run down Ra’s mom with a car last summer.
Ra is currently pregnant but is locked up in a Michigan prison and may have to deliver the baby in jail. Despite this very blatant miscarriage of justice, the National Rifle Association has been almost silent on Ra’s case.
Hoyer didn’t mention these atrocities done by law enforcement officials but kept assuring his audience, made up of white middle-aged men, the police know what they are doing. He also referenced a “bad guy” during his talk, but failed to elaborate on who actually was the bad guy and the good guy in such situations.
“It does not seem the NRA represents all Americans, it seems like they only represent a portion of Americans who are white males,” said Diana Earl, whose 22-year-old son Dedrick was shot dead last year. “A lot of the deaths that happen in America the NRA doesn’t speak on, especially law-abiding black males who carry guns and get killed.”
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Lucas Jackson