By now, most of us have seen reports of Breonna Taylor's killing—the tragic death of a 26-year-old EMT who was fatally shot by police in her Kentucky apartment two months ago.
Much of the public discussion in this case revolves around police brutality and the killing of black Americans—vital conversations our country needs to be having. But there's another element of this case that's getting less attention, which is the silence of gun rights advocates when black gun owners defend themselves with a firearm.
Let's go over some what's been reported on the case.
Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were fast asleep, awoken by the sound of intruders. Walker quickly called 911 and shot at a police officer in what he says was self-defense. They didn't identify themselves as officers and were dressed in normal clothing. Then, 22 shots were fired by the police, eight of them hitting Taylor, killing her on site, The Associated Press reported.
Taylor's family recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit and hired Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, whose killing in Georgia gained national headlines. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has also joined the fight, demanding federal investigators examine the controversial raid that killed her. "I'm calling for the Department of Justice to investigate #BreonnaTaylor's death," Harris Tweeted Wednesday. "Her family deserves answers."
Taylor was an award-winning EMT with no criminal record. So why did police have a warrant to search her apartment in the first place? They believed her home was being used as a place to stash drugs or money from the sale of the drugs from another suspect in the case. However, no drugs were found in the apartment.
Neighbors claimed they didn't hear the police identify themselves as law enforcement. The police say otherwise. According to the Courier Journal, the warrant had a "no knock" provision, meaning they were not obligated to knock or to let anyone know who they were before entering.
I'm not here to debate if the police announced themselves, but the fact that they didn't have to per the warrant is problematic enough—especially in a country that celebrates gun ownership as a means of protecting yourself and your property.
To be clear, Walker is a legally registered gun owner. The state of Kentucky uses the Castle Doctrine with a "stand your ground" law, according to the the U.S. Concealed Carry Association:
"A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat. He or she has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. Force may also be used to prevent the commission of a felony involving the use of force. Any person who uses a gun in self-defense has immunity from criminal and civil law."
If Walker believed that an intruder was breaking in and he was not engaged in unlawful activity, he was definitely within his legal rights to shoot. But Walker has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer.
Activist Ally Henny touched on the issue of Castle Doctrine and black gun ownership on Facebook.
Where are the gun rights advocates in this case? How many times have we seen them talk about the inalienable right to bear arms, the right to protect their family and their property and the right to shoot someone who makes them feel unsafe? "Stand your ground" was the defense George Zimmerman used after he murdered Trayvon Martin. That was a grown man who had confronted a teenager walking down the street with a pack of Skittles.
Imagine being yanked out of sleep by the sound of someone trying to break into your home, not knowing it was the police. They weren't even dressed in uniform. How can the prosecutors claim Walker attempted to murder someone he thought was breaking in? Especially when according to the state's own laws he had every right to do so?
Can't imagine a more profound violation of the right to keep and bear arms. Walker defended himself from armed men who broke into his home and killed his girlfriend. For that he was arrested.— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) May 10, 2020
Yet the NRA has said what they always say after these raids:
Not a damn thing.
Where was the NRA when Philando Castile informed a police officer on a traffic stop he had a legally concealed weapon, told the officer he was going to take it out and was still shot and killed in front of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter in the backseat? Apparently their defense of gun owners is selective. And by selective I mean racist.
I've got some other questions surrounding that "no knock" warrant, as well. If the police were surveilling Taylor's apartment long enough to suspect that her apartment was being used for drugs—why wouldn't they have entered the apartment when they knew no one was home? Why have a 1 a.m. bust?
Undoubtedly, we'll get more answers as the investigation continues.
In the meantime, let's say Breonna Taylor's name, remember the service she offered as an EMT and honor the grief of her loved ones. Let's remember Kenneth Walker as he mourns the loss of his girlfriend while fighting for justice too. Let's talk about the stunning silence of gun rights activists when a black person exercises their second amendment right. Let's keep talking about racial injustice in our law enforcement and justice systems.
Let's also keep talking about how many of these kinds of stories it's going to take before we collectively decide enough is enough.