"There is a black man with a gun."
What is your first judgment of this statement? Please, be honest.
Did you make an inferential leap that involved negativity? I imagine many people assumed the fictional black man must be a hoodlum, a gangster, a criminal -- someone armed and willing to commit an offensive act of violence. After all, the racial composition of the U.S. population (2008) was 12.84% African American, while the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showed non-Hispani blacks accounted for 39.4% of the prison and jail population. Such disparities breed stereotypes. Black men, especially young black men, are often presumed to be criminal wrongdoers who are stereotyped as violent, aggressive, and up to no good.
These anxieties reflect not only anecdote and personal experience. Social-science research has documented the unfavorable stereotypes associated with young black men. Studies have found, for example, that research participants are more likely to mistake a cellphone for a gun when it is held by a black man than by a white one. The combination of being black and male can sometimes cause people to perceive a threat even when there isn’t one.
(James Brockmole, "What Does This New Study Reveal About Those Packing Heat?" The Blaze, http://www.theblaze.com/stories/what-does-this-new-study-reveal-about-those-packing-heat/, March 20 2012)
Now consider these statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crimes. In 2010, for homicides in which the type of weapon was specified, 68 percent of the offenses were committed with firearms.
In that year, 46.5 percent of homicide victims were white and 49.8 percent were black. For 3.7 percent of victims, race was classified as :other" or "unknown." And, homicide was generally intra-racial where the race of the victim and offender were known: white offenders murdered 83 percent of white victims, and black offenders murdered 90 percent of black victims.
We all understand the plea of the NRA, who bills itself as America's foremost defender of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, that guns are essential for self protection. It seems pretty evident that the minority of black men in this country must be given the same rights as the majority. In fact, blacks in this nation have been the predominant victims of domestic terror under government sanction, or senseless criminal activity by young men who share their skin color.
I ask you,
if you do have a negative connotation
of a black man with a gun permit, why?
Are you, perhaps, discovering one
of those subtle, less discernible prejudices?
The new face of gun rights in America is an elderly black man who wants to protect his family and his private property, earned through decades of hard work and sacrifice. His is an American story about the individual defense of liberty and property, the core purpose of the Second Amendment.
America’s gun-control laws owe their genesis to the post-Civil War era, when white southerners moved to disarm freed slaves. The former Confederate states’ successful efforts to restrict gun ownership had disastrous long-term consequences for black Americans’ life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. At last, in the 21st century, things are beginning to change but not without resistance.
Ron Miller, conservative writer and commentator, says, "It takes a lot of courage for black people to stand up and demand gun ownership as a fundamental right of American citizenship. Frankly, white people have been taught through the media and the arts to fear black people with guns, and gun control is most prevalent in urban areas with large black and minority populations." (Ron Miller, "Blacks With Guns," Gun Owners of America, http://gunowners.org/op03302011.htm, March 29 2011)
Black people have been indoctrinated to believe that gun control is for their own good when, in fact, it simply makes them easier targets. Whether it's the Ku Klux Klan in the 1900s, or the "boyz n the hood" in 2010, the effect of disarming their victims is the same - death, serious injury, or fear and intimidation if you're allowed to live.
Testimony of a Black Gun Owner
David J. Miller writes:
"You wouldn't know it to look at me. Most people see an unarmed, 37-year-old, bearded white male; but I assure you that I am a Black Man with a Gun.
"I borrowed this title from a man named Kenneth Blanchard; the original Black Man With a Gun. He is, in his own words, '...an American of African ancestry,' and he's not shy about the fact that he's a conservative Christian gun owner too.
"People in society today seem to tense up when they hear the words, "black man" and "gun" in a sentence. This is because of the incorrect yet popular belief that most black men with guns are criminals. Blanchard works to shatter that stereotype through speaking engagements, shooting camps, training classes, essays and books. His primary focus is to break through the barriers of race that society foists upon us.
"It is not an easy task. Many black men are reluctant to stand up and be counted among mainstream (read: white) gun owners. They prefer to keep their gun ownership private. This reluctance is a manifestation of the race barrier that has been constructed and used to keep gun owners of different races separated and, therefore, weakened. If we, as freedom-loving gun owners are to successfully regain and retain our rights, we must *all* stick together. White, black or brown, male or female, suburban, rural or urban; it makes no difference. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, 'We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.'"
(David J. Miller, "Black Man With A Gun," TheBluesMan@KeepAndBearArms.com, February 7 2003)
Ali wearing a hoodie. Stereotype?
A very significance Supreme Court ruling on June 28, 2010 effectively struck down gun bans nationwide as unconstitutional. The decision resonates in the black community, whose people are more likely than any other group to be murdered by a gun-wielding assailant. That fact made two of the protagonists of McDonald v. City of Chicago particularly compelling.
The lead plaintiff in the suit which challenged the city of Chicago's handgun ban was a 76-year old black grandfather who grew tired of being fearful in his own neighborhood. After multiple break-ins at his home and death threats because he called the police to report gunfire, U.S. Army veteran and retired maintenance worker Otis McDonald wanted a handgun to defend himself, his family and his property:
"I just got the feeling that I'm on my own...The fact is that so many people my age have worked hard all their life, getting a nice place for themselves to live in ... and having one (handgun) would make us feel a lot more comfortable."
Because he is a hunter, Mr. McDonald already had two shotguns in his home but said, "I would like to have a handgun so I could keep it right by my bed, just in case somebody might want to come in my house."
(Ron Miller, "Blacks With Guns," Gun Owners of America, http://gunowners.org/op03302011.htm, March 29 2011)
Gun-control advocates often cite the gun violence in urban areas, and the alarming murder rate among black people, especially young black males, as justification for gun bans. It is harder, however, for them to claim they are helping black people when they continue to die anyway because the criminals obtain guns regardless of the law, and law-abiding citizens are effectively disarmed by the government that is sworn to keep them safe.
Mr. McDonald knows he cannot depend on the police to defend him or his home, so he declares, "That's all I want, is just a fighting chance. Give me the opportunity to at least make somebody think about something before they come in my house on me."
However, Not So Fast There, Black Man With a Gun
Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley signed handgun-licensing legislation that violates both the spirit and the letter of the McDonald decision - with the unanimous support of the Democrat-controlled City Council.
Robert Farago of The Washington Times reports, "The Chicago handgun-licensing laws enacted just four days after the Supreme Court ruling include four hours of mandatory training and testing (at the prospective handgun owner’s expense), tri-annual licensing fees and registration with the Chicago Police. (That’s in addition to existing federal requirements.) The new regulations prohibit gun ranges within Chicago; applicants will have to travel outside the city for training.
(Robert Farago, "Racist Pols Go Straight Back To Disarming Blacks," The Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/6/racist-pols-go-straight-back-to-disarming-blacks/?page=all, July 6 2010)
Do the new requirements pass the “reasonable” test suggested by the Supreme Court in the McDonald decision? The mayor has made no secret of the fact that the laws reflect his desire to make handgun ownership as difficult as possible. For whom? I'll give you one guess, friends.
While Chicago’s laws will be applied equally, regardless of race, it’s clear that crime-plagued, low-income black Americans will find it hardest to satisfy their requirements. By both intention and design, the city of Chicago will prevent handgun ownership by the municipality’s poorest, least educated and most vulnerable inhabitants.
Won't the vast majority of the new handgun owners be wealthy white residents? Who else can afford $500 in fees, plus the cost of a gun, and the time and effort required to obtain a handgun license?
The McDonald decision didn’t go far enough. The highest court in the land should have mandated that states and cities shall make no laws abridging Americans’ right to bear arms. Instead, they created a “reasonableness” test that opened the door to the same racist regulations that inspired Otis McDonald to seek legal redress in the first place.
Oh my, "There's a black man with a gun." Or is there?