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A Black, NRA-Certified Instructor Talks Self-Defense, Pittsburgh And Botham Jean

Wilfredo Lee
In this Monday, July 30, 2018 photo, silhouette targets used by Broward County Public Schools' newly-hired armed guardians are shown after firearms training at the Broward Sheriff's Office gun range in Markham Park in Sunrise, Fla.

RJ Young was trying to win over his future father-in-law. So, he started shooting guns. 

Young is a black gun owner and NRA-certified pistol instructor. But, that decision was borne out of anger. 

He went to a gun range with his father-in-law who joked at him not to hold a gun sideways. It was there he decided to be the best he could be at shooting guns.

On KERA's Think, host Krys Boyd talked to Young, who has a new memoir out on these experiences, about everything from self-defense and the shooting death of Botham Jean in Dallas to Saturday's shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. 

Read highlights from the interview below.

Interview Highlights

Credit Courtesy of RJ Young
RJ Young talks to Think's Krys Boyd about gun culture from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On self-defense

"Self-defense shooting is all reaction. It is all just practicing these motions...what I find is most people think that self-defense shooting is something like being a cowboy, being an outlaw...Self-defense shooting is getting yourself out of danger...

"I kill paper, right? Self-defense is, 'No, if I have to kill somebody, I will.' And how many people have decided that's where I live? You know, your life is null and void; you break into my house, think about that, think about how many people have already said that to themselves." 

On the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and President Trump saying an armed guard at the temple could have helped

"I think he missed the point, I think many of us do...if you put armed guards in front of places of worship, places of peace, places of welcome, they no longer become that...

"I get it, people are afraid. I'm afraid. But I don't think arming everyone or everything is the way to make a place safer."

On the shooting death of Botham Jean, a black man killed in his apartment by a white, off-duty Dallas police officer

"If you have to shoot me to feel safe, I can't help you by shooting you back. And to draw it out with police in particular — put it this way, if I get pulled over, I have a duty, if I have a firearm on me, I have a duty to tell the police officer, 'I am armed.' Now, what that police officer does with that knowledge I hope would be, you know, mature and by the book...

"Everybody is important, every single person. You don't get to say, 'I'm afraid,' and shoot somebody...that's not where I live, that's not how I was raised to go about life." 

Listen to the entire conversation with Young here

Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.