It’s become impossible to ignore the fact that Americans of all races, colors, and creeds are embracing their Second Amendment right to own a firearm for self-defense, but it’s still surprising to see the Chicago Tribune give the issue the front-page treatment, as it did on Monday with a lengthy profile on the growing number of black gun owners in Chicago.
The shockingly snark-free story starts with an anecdote about a woman from Chicago who fired a gun for the very first time recently, and is now in the process of obtaining her concealed carry license. Of course the Tribune has to find some critic of the idea of increased gun ownership, but the paper only devotes a small amount of the story to the naysayers.
Autry Phillips, head of the violence prevention group Target Area Development Corp., said African Americans are already disproportionately affected by gun violence. Putting more firearms, even legal ones, into Black communities could result in gun theft,accidental shootings and tragedy, he said.
“We’re dealing with enough deaths in our community,” he said. “Why do we keep adding guns?”
New organizations dedicated to Black gun ownership are nonetheless emerging, aiming to provide a welcoming environment to newcomers and counter long-standing negative images of Black people with firearms.
“It’s accepted that a white man in America with a gun is seen as a patriot, while a Black man with a gun is seen as a criminal,” said David Hayes of the 761st Gun Club of Illinois, a firearms education group based in the south suburbs. “It doesn’t make Americans want to get behind that.”
The right of the people to keep and bear arms is just that; a right of the people, not just the white folks. My bi-racial son and daughter have the same right to possess and carry a firearm that I do, but as Hayes and others interviewed for the Tribune story point out, it doesn’t always work that way in the court of public opinion.
The best way to change that is for more Americans to embrace their Second Amendment rights, and that revolution is underway in Chicago.
Yvette Farmer, 58, who lives on the South Side of Chicago, said she bought a 9 mm pistol last year because of the “craziness” happening in the city.
“Bullets don’t have names,” she said at a concealed carry class in the Chatham neighborhood. “They can go anywhere. If you learn how to use something you’re better prepared.”
Two dozen students in the class handled replica pistols and practiced their grips, shooting stances and the fine points of armed confrontation.
“Look through that gun, look through it,” instructor Mike Brown, a former police officer, commanded as the students extended their faux pistols toward pretend attackers. “Imagine that that deadly threat is in front of you and you are trying to stop that threat. Don’t look at the gun — look through the gun at the threat.”
Brown said students come to him because of fear of crime (especially carjackings), as well as concerns over racist violence and unrest. But he added that Chicagoans who arm themselves should be wary of a city government that is aggressive about seizing guns.
For example, he said, people with firearm owner identification cards are frequently arrested for failing to also have a concealed carry license (both are required to carry a gun). He chalked up the omission to a lack of education, but said the consequences seem to land most heavily on Black people.
“When there is a politically driven (effort) to eliminate guns, you’re going to see overreaches in how the police tend to treat a certain class of citizens,” he said. “And that’s definitely what I’m seeing here.”
In my view, this is one of the strongest arguments against gun control that doesn’t involve the Constitution. Many of the same Democrats who support criminal justice and policing reform because they see systemic bias inherent in the criminal justice system are eager to put more gun control laws on the books, even if that means they’ll be disproportionately enforced against minorities. The Left can have criminal justice reform or more gun control, but they can’t have both.
The entire Tribune piece is worth a read, but I was particularly intrigued by this bit.
Kourtney Redmond, president of the 761st Gun Club — named after a distinguished World War II tank battalion comprised of Black soldiers — said the disparities extend all the way to finding a place to practice marksmanship.
Chicago banned gun ranges until a lawsuit, filed by a Black plaintiff, forced it to back down. But since that federal appellate court decision in 2017, the city is still without a range. Redmond said his group is looking for property on the South or West sides that might make a suitable location.
“How are people supposed to get education on firearms if they can’t even go to a gun range in their own city?” he said. “They have to go to the suburbs. A lot of times Black people don’t always feel welcome there.”
Chicago needs a gun range, and it’s absurd that the city has continued to put up so many barriers between residents and their Second Amendment rights. Redmond is spot on by pointing out that the city is actually fostering a culture of irresponsible gun ownership through its draconian restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. You want people to be safe and responsible with their guns? Ensure that they have easy access to a place to safely and responsibly train.
Self-defense is a human right, but for decades now Chicago has downplayed or denigrated that right, first by banning handgun ownership outright and then putting up every roadblock possible to prevent residents from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. I applaud the efforts of Redmond and other 2A activists in Chicago who are working to dispel the stereotypes of who gun owners are while they also work to ensure that any law-abiding resident who wants to exercise their Second Amendment rights can do so without discrimination or governmental disfavor.