This past weekend, I wrote a piece about a Louisville man named Darwin Belliard, who’s been busy teaching community members how to treat gunshot wounds. I was intrigued by Belliard’s story, which was originally covered by Louisville television station WLKY, so I reached out to him to see if he’d be willing to talk about his training sessions on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.
I’m really glad I did, because we had a great conversation on today’s show. Belliard, who spent four years in the Army before leaving in 2018, says he’s always been interested in firearms, though his mom wasn’t always a fan of his hobby. In fact, Belliard says that when he was a kid, his mother caught him watching a YouTube video of someone shooting an MP5 and was visibly upset with his interest in guns; which he says was a result of her growing up in Louisville’s West End, home to some of the highest violent crime rates in the city (Mom, incidentally, has since become much more accepting of Belliard’s interest, and has even hit the range with her son).
Belliard too grew up in the West End, and says that both his mother and father helped to keep him on the right path in his youth, despite the temptations of gangs and drugs. He’s hoping to do have the same impact on his community that his parents had on him, and one of the ways he’s doing so is by pairing firearms and first aid training.
Every week Belliard offers up a multi-hour course in both basic firearms handling and safety as well as tips and techniques to help save the lives of gunshot victims. Belliard, who’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, says that regardless of your feelings about the right to keep and bear arms, it’s ludicrous to think that we’re ever going to live in a gun-free society. Instead of trying to ban guns or make them taboo, Belliard is hoping to remove some of the mystique surrounding firearms and offer Louisville residents some practice in applying tourniquets, combat gauze, and other simple but effective steps that can save lives.
Louisville has already had 117 homicides this year, on pace to exceed last year’s record high of 170 murders. I asked Belliard if the increase in violence has made folks more likely to embrace their Second Amendment rights or turn to gun control as a solution for the crime spike, but he replied that it’s not quite as simple as that. Some residents are worried that Kentucky’s Constitutional Carry law, for instance, has added fuel to an already combustible situation, but Belliard says he’s also heard first-hand from others who are ready to embrace their right to keep and bear arms. In fact, Belliard says he’s been especially gratified by the number of young black women who’ve approached him about getting some instruction so that they feel comfortable carrying in self-defense.
As for what can be done to reduce violent crime in Louisville, Belliard says the problems can’t be fixed by slapping another gun control law on the books. He credits having a stable two-parent family as one of the main reasons why he was able to avoid falling the pitfalls that have claimed the lives of so many young men in the city, and says that building a strong and resilient community starts with strong family ties.
It sounds to me like Belliard is putting his own experience to work helping his city, and I wish him well in his efforts to both change and save lives. Be sure to check out our entire conversation in the video window above, and we’ll be checking back with Darwin Belliard in the not-too-distant future to get an update on how his activism is progressing.