Merely Carrying a Permitted Gun Can Get You Killed

Think carrying a legally permitted gun keeps you safe?

Not in the least. In fact, just having it can get you killed.

Philando Castile was an innocent man who was shot dead in his own car by a policeman after Castile was forthright during a traffic stop about having a permitted firearm with him.

Textbook traffic stop

The recently-released police dashcam video of Philando Castile getting pulled over last July in a Minnesota suburb could have been used as a training video for the proper way to act when getting pulled over by police: Pull over in a safe place as soon as possible after the patrol car’s lights go on, open your window enough to talk, keep your hands where the policeman can see them, be polite and inform the officer right away if you have a firearm with you. Castile did all of these things and still got killed.

The policeman asked Mr. Castile for his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Castile told the officer right away that he had a permitted firearm with him. Then Castile did as the officer asked and reached for his drivers license.

That was all it took. The officer, fearful that Castile was reaching for his gun, shot Castile at least seven times, according to the video. There is no evidence Castile was reaching for the weapon, and Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with him, repeatedly told the officer Castile was not reaching for the weapon.

The policeman had told Castile he pulled him over because of a broken tail light.

What Castile didn’t know was that the officer who pulled him over thought Castile resembled a robbery suspect, and this apparently put the officer on edge.

Castile had all the necessary permits and papers to legally possess his gun, but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was how the mere knowledge that Castile had a firearm with him made the policeman feel during this circumstance. The officer claimed it made him afraid enough to pull his service weapon and use it on Castile without hesitation.

That defense worked, by the way. On June 16, 2017, a jury acquitted the officer of all charges related to the killing of Castile, and the officer walked away a free man.

This is a good example of how merely having a permitted gun with you can get you killed, even while you are a model citizen and are obeying the law to a “T.”

So much for being “a good guy with a gun.”

This scenario could certainly occur in western Colorado as easily as it did in Minnesota. The western slope is full of people who mistakenly believe carrying a firearm will make them safe.

It won’t, and doesn’t. People who carry firearms are 4.5 times more likely to get shot and 4.2 times more likely to get killed than those who don’t, according to New Scientist magazine — and that statistic was from 2009. Millions more guns have flooded the country since then.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four year old daughter were in the car with Philando during the traffic stop. She live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, and assured officer that Castile had been reaching for his driver’s license:

  4 comments for “Merely Carrying a Permitted Gun Can Get You Killed

  1. Hey AP,

    Castile told the policeman he was reaching for his driver’s license, and his girlfriend said so as well. His license was in his shirt pocket. They had a child in the car and didn’t want any trouble. There are lots of You-Tube videos on how to behave during traffic stops. Castile behaved exactly as he was supposed to.

    • So tell me Anne, would “I’m reaching for my drivers license” be a really cool thing to say right before you popped a cap on a cop? You see, the problem here is a failure to communicate. You don’t tell the cop what you’re going to do. You let the cop tell you what you’re going to do, even if you have a firearm. Why?? Because he’s the cop. And do you know how many times a cop is lied to on the average day?

      But let me be clear. If you’re the one doing the reaching, you’re putting two lives on the line. The cops and yours. And believe it or not, the cop gets a vote in that decision. And if he happens to vote in his favor, well you ain’t going to care much what happens after that. So the time to think, before you move, is before you move.

      “Castile acted exactly as he was supposed to”. And so did the cop. But in spite of all of that, something went wrong. What I’m trying to address is how to prevent that. And I’ll just bet if Castile had a do over, he just might see the wisdom of my position, ya think?

  2. Listen to what the “man” says!

    I watched the video when it was streamed live originally, and I don’t think legal carry or even illegal carry was the problem. It think reaching for it was the problem, especially after the cop told him not to. Life is hard. But it’s even harder if you’re stupid. When a cop tells you don’t do that, and you do that, well there it is. The cause of action. Now, tell me, if you were a cop, would you wait until you’re looking down the barrel before you react? If so, then chances are, you’re career as a cop wouldn’t be long. Here’s some advice. You want to listen to what the man says. And if you feel the impulse to scratch your butt, well you’re probably better off if you just let it itch.

    But here’s an experiment you can try. The next time a cop pulls you over, go to digging in your pants pocket, or for that matter your glove compartment. You’ll only need to do that once. And if you live through it, you’ll be a hell of a lot smarter than you were before he pulled you over.

    • Hey Anne, there is something you can do to prevent tragedies like the one presented in the above video. You seem to have some influence with District 51. How about a class at least in drivers ed, but preferably for the whole student body taught by a CHP officer on just how to act if you’re ever pulled over by the police, for a more harmonious outcome.

      You see the cop has no way of knowing what you’re reaching for. I know of one case where a man was shot by a police officer when he reached under his seat to get a pair of vise grips to roll down his window, back in the old days, when they didn’t have power windows, and his window handle fell off. In that case of course, the cop was the only one with a gun. But he was cleared in the shooting because he had no way of knowing what the man was reaching for.

      Don’t put your hands in your pockets. If you’re outside your vehicle, don’t reach back into it or even open the door. If the cop tells you to show your ID, and it’s not on you, tell him that. Tell him where it’s at; in your vehicle or on your person. And invite him to reach for it. And then listen to his instructions as if your life depends on it, because it probably does.

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