The Buffalo shooting and the human right of self-defense

If the murderer’s stated motivation for his attack on a Buffalo, New York supermarket on Saturday is anywhere close to the truth, he was hoping that his cowardly slaughter would increase the already deep divides in this country, eventually sparking off a civil war or convincing non-whites to flee the country.

Instead of that happening, I tend to agree with Second Amendment activist and DiversityShoot.com founder Tony Simon, who joined me on today’s Cam & Co to talk about the Buffalo shooting and why he believes it will actually lead to more Americans from all walks of life coming together in support of their shared right of armed self-defense.

Simon has organized and run Diversity Shoot since 2015, when Gun For Hire range in Woodland Park, New Jersey first started hosting a monthly event. Since then the group has expanded to two events each month rotating among five ranges in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Simon says that the attendees are representative of a broad cross-section of society.

Honestly, this is the Second Amendment community I know; the tens of millions of us who believe that self-defense is a human right, not a right of the Right or a right of the Whites. But as Tony accurately points out, it’s not just white supremacist nutjobs who want to stoke divisions. The media, anti-gun politicians, and gun control activists are happy smearing Second Amendment supporters like Simon as “the most extreme movement” in the country; intent on “methodically chipping away at existing gun safety laws in states while pushing for federal action that would finally achieve their goal of legal possession of deadly firearms by anyone, anywhere, for any reason.”

It was just 14 years ago, in a case calledDistrict of Columbia v. Heller, that a bare majority of the Supreme Court held for the first time that the Constitution grants an individual right to bear arms. It was a landmark case that handed the gun lobby the definition it had long sought. Former Justice John Paul Stephens called it the worst decision of his tenure, noting that when he came on the court there was not even any discussion of gun ownership being a “fundamental right.” Over the years, however, the NRA worked very hard to make the case and Heller was finally taken up by the conservative majority in 2008. However, even with that proclamation, the court did not suggest that this meant states had no right to enact gun safety measures. The author of the opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia held that while people had the right to keep guns in their homes, communities still had an interest in public safety and keeping dangerous modern weapons off the streets. That was unsatisfying for the gun fetishists so they immediately began taking steps to ensure that interest was as proscribed as possible.

That is most certainly not what the Heller decision said, but given that anti-gun activists are so willing to lie about gun owners, it shouldn’t come as a shock that they’d deceive their audience about what the Supreme Court has had to say about the Second Amendment as well. The Heller case wasn’t about the right to bear arms, merely keeping them in their home, and to the extent that Scalia did talk about the right to carry, he merely mentioned that laws barring firearms in “sensitive places” would likely withstand constitutional scrutiny. That, of course, implies that laws banning bearing arms in “non-sensitive places” (at least in public) would be more difficult if not impossible to justify under the Second Amendment, which brings us to the Court’s pending decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen.

One of the most eloquent and powerful briefs filed Bruen comes from a group of public defenders across the state, who argued that the state’s restrictive and subjective carry regime is disproportionately impacting minorities, despite the law being racially neutral on its face.

For our clients, New York’s licensing regime renders the Second Amendment a legal fiction. Worse, virtually all our clients whom New York prosecutes for exercising their Second Amendment right are Black or Hispanic. And that is no accident. New York enacted its firearm licensing requirements to criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities. That remains the effect of its enforcement by police and prosecutors today.

The consequences for our clients are brutal. New York police have stopped, questioned, and frisked our clients on the streets. They have invaded our clients’ homes with guns drawn, terrifying them, their families, and their children. They have forcibly removed our clients from their homes and communities and abandoned them in dirty and violent jails and prisons for days, weeks, months, and years. They have deprived our clients of their jobs, children, livelihoods, and ability to live in this country. And they have branded our clients as “criminals” and “violent felons” for life. They have done all of this only because our clients exercised a constitutional right.

Simon tells me that from what he’s seen at recent Diversity Shoots, there’s no shortage of New Yorkers eager to embrace the right of self-defense that’s currently being denied them. The most recent Diversity Shoot was held just two days after the shooting in a New York City subway, and attendance was actually higher than normal. Simon says he expects the same at the next Diversity Shoot coming up on May 24th at the Union Hill Gun Club in Monroe Township, New Jersey. Ironically, while the suspect in Buffalo wanted to use a gun to sow divisions among us, his murderous acts will likely lead to gun owners and Second Amendment-curious folks of all races, colors, and creeds gathering together to enjoy fellowship, freedom, and fun on the range.

I’d love to see Diversity Shoot ultimately expand nationwide, but in the meantime Tony says he’s definitely willing to take the show on the road whenever and wherever he can. Follow him on Instagram at @simonsaystraining, and I hope you’ll show him some love and support to help keep Diversity Shoot growing in the future.