The Racial Disparity Of Police And Armed Citizens

The Second Amendment reads, ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This is the text so many of us have devoted time and treasure to protect from infringement. Nothing in that text says it only applies to white folks, either. This is a point I know I’ve made a thousand times and will make at least a thousand more before I’m on the other side of the dirt. When people claim the Second Amendment is somehow racist, I point to that text and ask them how it only applies to certain groups and not others.

Few have any answer and those that do tend to focus on different things entirely.

However, an opinion piece at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out, though, that there may be a Second Amendment problem when it comes to racial disparity, but it’s not with the amendment itself.

On June 1, Army veteran Trevan Young, a 29-year-old computer analyst who is black, was carrying a sign and protesting in Chattanooga when a police officer approached, calling for him to stop. A video of the encounter shows Young backing up as the officer tugs on his arm while half a dozen other cops quickly pile on top of him, bringing him to the pavement as he screams, “I didn’t do anything!”

According to court documents, police said someone saw a black man with an AR-15 heading to the protests. Police found a disassembled rifle in Young’s backpack and two loaded magazines.

“This arrest likely prevented what could have been a very tragic situation,” Chattanooga police said in a news release.

He was charged with resisting arrest, unlawful possession of a weapon and disorderly conduct and was released on $8,000 bond.

A couple of nights later, near the Chattanooga Choo Choo, protesters spotted a bearded guy armed with a semi-automatic weapon standing atop a building and peering down at them. Police arrived and found Kevin Leko, 35, with a bag with a gun sticking out of it. He was ordered to the ground and complied. Police found a loaded AK-47, two 9 mm pistols and a revolver, all loaded. Police say that he, too, was loaded.

Leko, who is white, was charged with possession of a firearm while under the influence and bonded out for a mere $3,000.

Now, it’s always difficult to look at two cases and see all the nuances between the two. What may look like a racial disparity may have more to do with other factors that don’t show up in brief news reports.

All that said, it’s arguable that Leko deserved the tougher bond since he was intoxicated while handling firearms during a tense situation. Yet he didn’t. Young did, all with a weapon that was supposedly disassembled and in a backpack.

Look, if we’re going to stand for gun rights, we damn well better stand for everyone’s gun rights. That includes those who might not side with us on any other issue. That’s how rights work. Either everyone gets their gun rights or it ceases to be a right in the first place.

That means it’s up to us to call out situations like this, to raise the question of whether police view armed minorities differently than armed white folks, and if they do then oppose it as vehemently as possible.

I don’t think that’s a problem for the vast majority of us, but if I’m right, then we need to step up and do it.

Gun rights are human rights. That means all people should be free to keep and bear arms in the manner in which they believe is most advantageous to them. There can’t be a set of rules for one law-abiding group and another for every other group of law-abiding citizens.