When we talk about anti-gunners, we normally mention how they only seem to want the military and police to have guns. Many reject that argument, saying they want no such thing, but plenty of others say precisely that. They don’t want us ordinary citizens to have firearms. They want them relegated only for military and law enforcement use.
That creates a problem for some anti-gunners who also want to blast police shootings as part of the gun violence issue.
We are experienced Black organizers in anti-violence and gun violence prevention work, and it has long been clear to us that the broad movement of which we have been a part has a huge hole in it. Police violence — in instances when officers use their guns to intimidate, shoot or kill Black or brown people — is also gun violence. And it rightly has a place in the movement against gun violence that is often celebrated by liberal politicians at the highest levels.But for far too many years, Black voices have been silenced and pushed out of the conversation on ending gun violence in America because we also wanted to talk about policing. For too long, communities of color have been othered within conversations about ending gun violence by those who wanted to victim-blame and reduce our experiences of gun violence to “Black on Black crime…
Police take the lives of more than 1,000 people every year, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color. In 2017, police shot and killed 986 people, 22 percent of whom were Black, even though African Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Study after study has shown that weak gun laws and higher levels of gun ownership are correlated with increased shootings by police.
Still, when Black organizers and movement leaders within the gun violence movement first began participating in Black Lives Matter, we were broadly shunned by political and philanthropic circles, further reducing our ability to have an impact within the movement to end gun violence. As millions now cry out for justice and reform because police violence is trending, that has changed — but it has left us years behind.
Now, I don’t like the idea of getting in the way of my opponents’ in-fighting, but these statistics won’t stay within the gun control community, so we might as well address them now.
First, how many of those 1,000 people killed each year by police are righteous shoots? I know that the writers will try to equate this to victim-blaming, but the truth is that some people do things that will get them shot. Pointing a gun at police, for example, is a good way to get your free toe-tag. It’s true of anyone who is armed, of course, but since you know the police have guns, it really is all on you. I’m sorry, but the claims of “victim-blaming” are only applicable when someone was doing nothing wrong and still became a victim. The prime example was trying to blame a woman for getting raped because she was supposedly dressed provocatively.
Yet even they seem to acknowledge that many, if not most, of these shootings are justified. After all, why else would you suppose they’d argue that week gun laws lead to these shootings? Could it be because most of these people are armed and the police are just protecting themselves or others?
However, all of this brings us to a broader question. Just how do you propose to curb policing while, at the same time, creating an environment where there are more laws that can lead to people being shot?
Constitutional carry, for example, means that the appearance of a firearm isn’t grounds for the police to detain someone and ask to see a permit. That means young black men lawfully carrying firearms would be less likely to be involved in a confrontation with police that could result in someone being killed over such a misunderstanding.
Cam wrote about how red flag laws and police reform as it’s being discussed are incompatible. And really, if police are such a problem, how can you suggest sending them to confront people they know to be armed as a good thing? Red flag laws won’t just be used against white gun owners, after all. Won’t this, too, lead to more problems and more fatalities?
The problem for the writers here is that their positions are at odds with one another and they seem to be among the few who don’t get that. Gun control groups aren’t having that conversation because they know on some level that they need the police to make their Utopia a reality and I’ve already laid out why many gun-rights supporters think they’re off-base.
You can’t have it both ways. You either need the police or you get gun control. That’s just how it works, which is why no one is going to talk about police shootings. They’re either justified or they’re evidence that gun control shouldn’t even be considered.
I don’t think our intrepid authors want to see that one.