A firearm is a tool. It’s a device that, in and of itself, does nothing. Guns don’t just go off. They don’t hurt people out of the blue. They don’t really do anything. No, for them to do something, a person has to enter the picture.
Yet despite this inescapable fact, guns and the industry that produces them are continually vilified, as if they’re somehow responsible for all the issues.
At least in 2020, some things just don’t seem to change.
Last month, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the indictment of an alleged gun trafficking ring that sought to illegally sell weapons in Brownsville.
According to the indictment, the defendants purchased guns legally from dealers in Virginia and South Carolina and trafficked them to Brooklyn along the so-called “Iron Pipeline,” the well-worn route from the legal gun market in Southern states to the streets of New York.
OK, let’s start by noting that if the defendants purchased the guns with the intention to traffic them, they didn’t buy them legally. They might have appeared to buy them legally, but by lying on the form 4473, they committed an illegal purchase.
Meanwhile, shooting incidents have nearly doubled in Brooklyn over the past year — a rise emblematic of the gun violence epidemic faced by communities like the one I represent. And while the suffering is felt locally, the guns used in these crimes are exported to our streets by bad actors in the gun industry who profit from their reckless business practices and remain largely unscathed.
America has a long tradition of distant profiteers growing rich at the expense of Black and Brown communities who pay the price in blood and tears. They count their money; we count the bodies.
Except, that doesn’t describe the firearm industry at all.
See, the gun industry sells to individuals, distributors, and retailers who are eligible to purchase these firearms. A few, such as those noted above, pretend to be lawful purchasers with the intention of using those guns for illicit purposes, but they represent something like one percent of all gun buyers.
Instead, most of those guns used in crimes are illegal in some other way. They’re stolen, for example, or purchased from a black market seller. What they’re generally not is lawfully purchased.
In an article titled, “The gun industry is killing Black America. It’s time we do something about it,” you’d expect a least an attempt to link the firearm industry to actual misdeeds. Yet, NY State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie doesn’t. Probably because he can’t.
If you want to get deep into who or what is killing black America, then perhaps Myrie would be better served looking at gang culture. After all, that’s who does most of the killing and, to be frank, most of their victims are from that culture as well. Not all, by any stretch, but most.
Yet that would require Myrie to have to hold people accountable for their own actions, for their own failures. There’s no profit in that if you’re a politician. Not in this day and age.
Instead, it’s much better to find someone else and blame them.
If the black community feels there are too many black men and women being killed, then maybe they should do something about the fact that so many of their murderers are other black men and women and stop trying to pretend that’s on anyone else.