Guns and Racial Bias

A right or a privilege (or a constitutional amendment) is only democratic when it applies to everyone.  This is why the ACLU defends free speech even when they oppose content.  And it is why the “right to bear arms” is a joke.  Until all woman and every person of color (i.e. not “white”) can carry a gun, openly or concealed, in all the same places with equal safety; the pretense is simply hypocritical.

We see groups of white men taking guns to their rallies now.  And they certainly did in the past.  Yet the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, working to monitor police and provide neighborhood support (such as lunches for children), were targeted by the FBI and deemed an enemy of the state.  We also see armed white men holding off law enforcement for hours.  While white protestors who occupy public or private sites are simply surrounded and contained, protestors protecting their own land and resources are treated very differently:  Dakota Pipeline Protest.  Casualties are avoided at all costs in the first instance and collateral damage in the second.  The statistics clearly support the differential by race and gender.  This Wikipedia link can point you toward the best resources and this is just a short excerpt:

Racial patterns  A database collected by The Guardian concluded that 1093 people in 2016 were killed by the police. The rate of fatal police shootings per million was 10.13 for Native Americans, 6.66 for Black people, 3.23 for Hispanics; 2.9 for White people and 1.17 for Asians. The database showed by total, more whites were killed by police than any other race or ethnicity. This is due to the fact that white people are the largest racial demographic in the nation; proportionally speaking, African Americans are 2.7 more likely to be killed by a police officer.[31][32] A 2015 study found that unarmed blacks were 3.49 times more likely to be shot by police than were unarmed whites.[33] Another study published in 2016 concluded that the mortality rate of legal interventions among Black and Hispanic people was 2.8 and 1.7 times higher than that among White people. Another 2015 study concluded that black people were 2.8 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. They also concluded that black people were more likely to be unarmed than white people who were in turn more likely to be unarmed than Hispanic people shot by the police.[34][35] A 2018 study in the American Journal of Public Health found the mortality rate by police per 100,000 was 1.9 to 2.4 for black men, 0.8 to 1.2 for Hispanic men and 0.6 to 0.7 for white men.[36]

While social media and alternative media have made the hypocrisy more visible, mainstream media has not.  Moreover, calling out these failures is reframed as failing to support and value law enforcement.  I am grateful that we have enough law enforcement to prevent anarchy and a Darwinian society.  I am not okay with them being a tool of power and prejudice.  I have no personal experience of any of this, but I haven’t really pushed the boundaries of my role as a straight white woman living a middle class lifestyle.

  I do have my outrage and my commitment to social justice and whatever small difference that might make.  On a daily basis, it simply means that I am not silent or directly complicit.  And, I don’t claim “all lives matter” when I hear BLACK LIVES MATTER.  I’m human enough to enjoy my status and comfort, but I am not hypocrite enough to pretend I don’t have them.  And, I don’t pretend that my failure to act in a racist or bigoted way myself means that I don’t live in a racist or bigoted society.  And that includes who is and is not allowed guns for self-defense.