The Second Amendment Foundation, one of the nation’s leading gun rights groups, called for an independent investigation into the shooting of Philando Castile by Minnesota police on Thursday.
“Wednesday night’s shooting of Philando Castile is very troubling, especially to the firearms community, because he was a legally-armed private citizen who may have done nothing more than reach for his identification and carry permit,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, said in a statement. “We have received calls of alarm today from many of our members across the country. They are justifiably concerned that a law-abiding citizen may have been wrongfully killed.”
“America’s 13 million citizens who are licensed to carry deserve to know exactly what happened and why. There are conflicting explanations, and only an independent investigation can hopefully reveal the truth.”
Castile was shot during a traffic stop involving a broken taillight. It’s unclear at this point how exactly the stop proceeded, but an officer shot and killed Castile as his girlfriend and her young daughter sat in the car with him. A number of Castile’s family members, including his girlfriend, said he was licensed to carry a concealed firearm and was attempting to show officers his ID when he was shot.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend said in a video of the aftermath she streamed over Facebook.
“I told him not to reach for it,” an officer with his gun drawn and pointed at Castile can be heard saying in the video. “I told him to get his hand off it.”
“You told him to get his ID, sir, and his drivers license,” Reynolds can be heard responding.
Gottlieb echoed Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D.) in his call for a federal investigation into the matter but said the state patrol or a similar agency would also suffice.
“We understand that Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the White House for a federal investigation,” Gottlieb said. “And we believe that either the Minnesota State Patrol, or an agency of equal stature from another state could also be invited to investigate.
“We are cognizant of the racial overtones arising from Mr. Castile’s death. The concerns of our members, and honest gun owners everywhere, go even deeper. Exercising our right to bear arms should not translate to a death sentence over something so trivial as a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and we are going to watch this case with a magnifying glass.”