The NRA likes to trumpet executive vice president Wayne LaPierre’s quote “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” so much it put the phrase on a t-shirt and sells it in the organization’s official store.
But when a Black man with Army training, who was legally allowed to carry a gun, was mistakenly shot by police after he drew his firearm following an altercation in an Alabama mall that saw another person shoot two young people, the gun rights world was largely silent.
Thursday night at a Hoover, Alabama mall, 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was shot and killed by a Hoover police officer during a conflict in which two people were injured by gunfire. The initial police statement said that the officer was “heroic” in shooting Bradford and it wasn’t until days later that the rest of the story began to trickle out.
Police eventually retracted their statement, after it became clear that they shot the wrong person. The actual shooter is likely still at large. Officers identified Bradford and released a new statement Monday morning acknowledging the “tragedy,” but also suggested Bradford should not have drawn his gun.
“We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene,” the city of Hoover and its police department said in their statement. “We extend sympathy to the family of Emantic J. Bradford of Hueytown, who was shot and killed during Hoover Police efforts to secure the scene in the seconds following the original altercation and shooting. The loss of human life is a tragedy under any circumstances.”
Bradford’s family is calling for “equal justice,” and say they want the body cam video released to the public, which they say shows him trying to defuse the chaos, standing over one shooting victim, protecting them from the shooter.
Bradford has not received any kind of public support from the gun rights movement as a “good guy with a gun.” Monday morning, the NRA, which has yet to issue any statements on Bradford’s death, tweeted out a gif of LaPierre saying, “To preserve our values and protect our freedom, America needs the good guys to step up like never before.”
— NRA (@NRA) November 26, 2018
Rather than commenting on the incident, NRA staff, social media personalities, and NRATV hosts have largely dedicated their time to tweeting about the migrant caravan seeking asylum in the United States, and pushing racist conspiracy theories about the migrants themselves.
Colion Noir, host of NRATV’s web series “Noir,” appears to be the only NRA social media presence speaking about the shooting, though he initially refused to comment extensively, saying he would wait until more facts were known.
Actually, I wanted to talk about guns and the second amendment. Dont get it confused this is a police shooting. Unless you're going to tell me the cop knew for certain that he was supposed to legally have that gun when he shot him? Try again bruh..details matter. https://t.co/IuREcgD2vE
— Colion Noir (@MrColionNoir) November 25, 2018
On Sunday, after details of the shooting began to trickle out, Noir tweeted, “[Bradford] was mistakenly shot for having a gun it seems.”
He was mistakenly shot for having a gun it seems. There is no direct info as to what motivated the cop shoot him beyond that.I can speculate but what does that do except give fuel for more confirmation bias. Why I'm the go to for these shootings is beyond me but it is wht it is https://t.co/W1hfXitJX7
— Colion Noir (@MrColionNoir) November 25, 2018
Kaitlin Bennett, who does not work for the NRA but has been celebrated for her extreme gun advocacy, was one of the only prominent Second Amendment advocates on social media to reference the shooting, even indirectly. On Saturday, Bennett retweeted Alex Chatoff — whose profile identifies them as a survivor of the Borderline Bar shooting in Thousand Oaks, California last month — who had tweeted about Bradford’s shooting, highlighting Bradford’s efforts to stop the initial altercation.
“Wait so a good guy with a gun was able to stop a bad guy with a gun instantly and save the lives of countless citizens? Interesting how that works,” Chatoff wrote.
Right-wing site Breitbart, which usually does not shy away from stories about gun rights, has also avoided much coverage of the shooting. The outlet was also forced to edit its initial article about the shooting, changing the headline from extolling the virtues of the police officer who killed the “shooter” to acknowledging the officer’s error.
The piece also contains an update which reads, in part, “[…Police] admitted to shooting a 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr., whom they now describe as ‘fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun,’ although ‘he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.’ Police say the actual gunman is still at large.”
Bradford joins a growing list of Black men, including Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, who have been shot by the police while armed, despite having committed no crime.
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.