Where are the gun rights activists defending Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker?

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?

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.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Those of us raising teenagers now didn't grow up with social media. Heck, the vast majority of us didn't even grow up with the internet. But we know how ubiquitous social media, with all of its psychological pitfalls, has become in our own lives, so it's not a big stretch to imagine the incredible impact it can have on our kids during their most self-conscious phase.

Sharing our lives on social media often means sharing the highlights. That's not bad in and of itself, but when all people are seeing is everyone else's highlight reels, it's easy to fall into unhealthy comparisons. As parents, we need to remind our teens not to do that—but we also need to remind them that other people will do that, which is why kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are so important.

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