Gun Safety

MemorialThere was a story in the nytimes today about a white police officer in Texas who was convicted of murdering a Black woman when he fired a bullet through her bedroom window.

The details are a bit sketchy, but apparently what happened was this:

Atatiana Jefferson, who graduated in 2014 from Xavier University of Louisiana with a degree in biology, and her 8-year-old nephew Zion were playing video games in her bedroom. Earlier that evening, they had burned some hamburgers and opened two doors to let the smoke out. A neighbor had noticed the open doors and placed a call to a nonemergency number.

When police officer Aaron Dean responded to the call, Ms. Jefferson heard a noise, grabbed her gun, and went to look out her window. Officer Dean saw her and ordered her to drop her weapon and put her arms up, and without giving her any time to respond, he shot and killed her as her nephew watched.

I don’t want to talk about the officer except to note that times have changed when even in Texas a white cop can get convicted by an all white jury for murdering a Black woman. Ok, he was convicted of manslaughter, but still. Perhaps this was a case of inadequate training, or perhaps Aaron Dean is a pusillanimous coward. We’ve been finding out lately that a lot of cops aren’t the brave heroes that TV dramas have portrayed them to be over the years.

I recently had a situation where I considered making a call because I feared that a neighbor might be in danger, so I can sympathize with the neighbors in this case.

But why did Ms. Jefferson have a gun?

I realize that I’m in danger here of blaming the victim, but I’m at a loss as to why so many folks seem to think having a firearm affords them some form of protection. That includes former classmates like “Wary Gells” who, although he lives in a tiny village (population in the hundreds, violent crime rate essentially zero) believes he needs a gun for protection and can’t understand why I don’t carry a firearm with me at all times given that I live in the Big Bad City.

It seems that nearly every day I read stories of people who shoot an unarmed intruder—often a relative. Or who use those firearms to murder their spouse. Or whose children find their guns and inadvertently kill someone. You know. Accidentally. There was even a recent story where a cop killed another cop because he was fooling around with a gun that he thought was not loaded.

But when was the last time that I read a story about someone whose life was saved because they shot an actual attacker? Or where a third party successfully intervened and saved the day by shooting an assailant? I’m sure there are some, but I can’t recall seeing any.

And apparently Ms. Jefferson kept her gun in her purse. Where her 8-year-old nephew could get to it?

Ok, so she had a gun. For whatever reason.

So she heard a noise. She thinks there might be a threat of some kind outside, a threat where she might have to use a gun to protect herself. So she grabs her gun, and goes to the window and what—? Makes herself a target?

She doesn’t think to turn off the lights? She doesn’t think to, you know, just take a careful peek out the window? She doesn’t think that if there is a threat out there, it might be someone with a gun and that her leaving her light on and just rushing to the window— 

I’m at a loss.

Yes, this is a terribly sad situation, but yes, I think Ms. Jefferson deserves at least part of the blame for what happened.

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