For all its tough talk about defending legal gun owners, the National Rifle Association has remained silent on the death of Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who was fatally shot in her own home by a white police officer over the weekend.
Jefferson, 28, had a legally owned handgun on her at the time and she pulled it out of her purse when she heard noises outside her home, her nephew told police.
Those noises turned out to be Fort Worth Police Department officers, including Aaron Dean, who had responded to a neighbor’s request for a wellness check at Jefferson’s home. Dean shot Jefferson, who had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew, through a window around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. He never identified himself as a police officer, according to body camera footage of the incident.
That same footage also includes blurry images of a handgun found inside the home, prompting many to accuse the Fort Worth Police of trying to blame Jefferson for the shooting.
The NRA helped pass Texas’ castle doctrine, which permits homeowners to respond with deadly force if they’re threatened in their own home, according to The Associated Press. The organization has previously defended legal gun owners who acted under the statute, but it hasn’t spoken out about Jefferson’s death yet.
That silence doesn’t sit well with Rep. Mac Veasey (D-Texas), whose district includes Jefferson’s neighborhood.
“And where is the NRA?” he tweeted Monday. “Once again they prove to the world that rigorous defense of [the Second Amendment] doesn’t extend to black America.”
The NRA also did not come to the defense of Philando Castile, a Black legally registered gun owner who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer in 2017. Spokeswoman Dana Loesch appeared to blame Castile for his own death at the time because he was in possession of marijuana.
The NRA did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Interim Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus has defended Jefferson’s right to have a gun, as well as her decision to retrieve it when she heard odd noises.
“We’re homeowners in Texas,” Kraus said Tuesday. “Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting.”
Family lawyer Lee Merritt also stood by Jefferson’s actions.
“It’s only appropriate that Ms. Jefferson would have a gun,” Merritt said at a news conference, reiterating that she was licensed to carry the handgun. “When you think there’s someone prowling around in the back at 2 in the morning, you may need to arm yourself. That person could have a gun.”