For some time, anti-gunners have been trying to push the argument that gun rights are inherently racist. They want people to equate the desire to own a gun with a desire to shoot non-white people in the face or something. They’ve tried over and over again to make the case that gun rights is about keeping black people oppressed.
They tend to ignore the fact that history shows that gun control has its roots firmly planted in racism. After all, the earliest gun control laws in the country were designed to disarm black men and women and make it impossible for them to defend themselves from the white Klansmen who wanted to intimidate and oppress them.
And, frankly, little has changed. See, while the Klan may not be riding through town unopposed anymore, the gun control laws are hitting the black community hardest. At least, that’s what happened with a D.C. initiative meant to crack down on guns.
An anti-gun initiative in Washington, D.C., that was backed by Mayor Muriel Bowser is attracting criticism because it has focused on predominantly black parts of the city. The controversy over the program, which prosecutes residents for violating the federal ban on firearm possession by people with felony records, illustrates the tension between two major items on the progressive agenda: strengthening gun control and reducing racial disparities in law enforcement. Those goals are hard to reconcile because enforcing firearm laws has a disproportionate impact on African Americans.
Bowser, who is herself African American, presumably was not driven by racial animus when she backed the D.C. initiative, which aims to reduce gun crimes by disarming and locking up people thought likely to commit them. But the racially disproportionate results were predictable, since one-third of African-American men have felony records (compared to 8 percent of the general population) and police and prosecutors were apt to concentrate on high-crime, predominantly black neighborhoods.
That is what happened, as federal prosecutors recently acknowledged. Instead of targeting illegal gun owners throughout the city, as originally advertised, the program has focused entirely on three police districts that overlap with Ward 5, which is 64 percent black; Ward 7 (92 percent black); and Ward 8 (89 percent black). By comparison, blacks represent 44 percent of the District’s total population.
The program “exclusively—and now we know, by design—targets District residents of color via specific police districts,” D.C. Council Member Charles Allen complained in a press release. “It is one more policy defaulting to harsh penalties on Black residents whose neighborhoods have historically been underinvested in and overpoliced. We must end this policy. It is taking us in the wrong direction.”
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, an elected official who enforces the D.C. Code, was likewise appalled by the “discriminatory application” of federal gun charges. According to the Post, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said “he was unaware the initiative was being implemented in only certain parts of the District.”
Look, I won’t pretend to know why black people are convicted of felonies at a higher rate than white people. I damn sure don’t think it’s something inherent in the genetics or anything. That said, we can’t pretend that the truth isn’t the truth.
Because of that truth, though, gun laws disproportionally impact black Americans, and not just D.C.’s law, either. No, they’re impacted by all the laws on the books.
Meanwhile, we’ll still have anti-gunners pretend that gun rights arguments are somehow rooted in racism despite zero evidence supporting that assertion, all while pretending their movement has always had the purest of motivations despite ample evidence to the contrary.