You’ve heard the tagline before. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
But that hasn’t always been the case — especially when the good guy with a gun is black.
Take the case of a recent shooting by police in a mall south of Birmingham, Alabama. After shots broke out and police arrived at the scene, they shot and killed Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. He was a 21-year-old black man, who the police initially said was responsible for the shooting that drew the police to the mall.
But the police department later retracted the statement that blamed Bradford Jr. for the original shooting, and instead said he was “brandishing” a gun instead. The narrative of who was responsible and why they were killed by the police keeps changing.
Cedric Alexander, the deputy mayor of Rochester, N.Y. and the former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, wrote about Bradford Jr.’s case in a recent op-ed for CNN.
Here’s part of what he wrote:
African-Americans are more likely than white people to be killed by the police. According to an analysis in The Washington Post, 51% of those killed by police in 2014 and 2015 were white, while 28.1% were black. But white people made up 62% of entire country’s population at the time, while black people accounted for 17.9%.
Active shooter situations are inherently urgent and confusing. While officers are trained to make split-second life-or-death decisions about the use of lethal force, the natural impulse is nevertheless to treat any armed person as a threat. And that impulse is difficult to overcome.
How does race figure into the national conversation around guns in American life?
RJ Young, NRA-certified firearms instructor; author, “Let It Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey into Guns”; @RJ_Young
Wesley Lowery, National reporter, The Washington Post; @WesleyLowery
Cedric Alexander, Former deputy mayor of Rochester, N.Y.; former police chief of Dekalb County and City of Rochester; long-time law enforcement officer
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