When Slate covers anything to do with guns, you usually know you’re about to see a trainwreck. After all, it’s not like most of those who write for that particular publication care anything about guns or gun rights. They lean leftward hard and aren’t afraid to show it. That’s obvious by the numerous anti-gun rights pieces they’ve run over the years.
Yet, the demographics of gun owners are changing. More and more women and minorities are arming up and finding value in the Second Amendment. For publications like Slate, that may mean adjusting their coverage of gun rights.
For example, writing a fairly positive piece on black gun ownership?
Gun violence kills thousands of Americans every year, and that pain is especially sharp in the nation’s Black communities. For a generation, a lot of Black political leadership has called for more guns to be taken off the street and has been closely aligned with gun control advocates. But a growing number of Black Americans seem to be choosing a different approach. During the Trump administration, Black gun ownership rates rose, and in 2020, of all demographic groups, Black Americans saw the sharpest increase in gun purchases at the start of the year. For people like Kenn Blanchard, advocating for Black gun ownership has been a crusade for decades. After serving in the military and holding a series of jobs in law enforcement, Blanchard branded himself the “Black Man With a Gun,” with a book, a website, and now a podcast with that name. He rejects the idea that gun control will make Black communities safer and has made it his mission to encourage Black Americans to view gun ownership as an important element of self-defense. On Friday’s episode of A Word, I spoke with Blanchard about how he reconciles his gun advocacy with his faith, and how he thinks Black gun owners can make themselves safer from police violence. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kenn, you’ve heard statistics about how the U.S. leads industrialized countries in gun violence and deaths, how Black men are disproportionate victims of gun crime, and how even legal gun ownership can potentially increase the chances of suicide. If I have a gun in the house and I’m having suicidal thoughts, my chances of going through with it and being successful are greater than if I just have pills or if I have a paring knife. Why do you think it’s important to advocate for gun ownership before the community figures out how to handle the guns out there that we already have?
Education got us off the plantation and education can keep us free. If you have a problem, the firearm is not going to solve it. We do it on both ends. Gun people, people who are pro-gun, think that if they buy this bazooka, that they will no longer have crime, and that’s false. And the people who don’t have a firearm think that all guns are evil, and that’s false. So it’s a two-way street, and there is no solution because we haven’t fixed humanity yet. We still don’t know “love thy brother and sister.” We still don’t have that part down. So when we’re looking at fixing things, it still is education, it’s information, and there’s no shortage of that right now.
Of course, it’s a long piece, but Blanchard does a good job, in my opinion, of threading the needle. He’s right that guns aren’t an automatic way to end crime. At best, it takes time for that to actually happen, and it takes a whole lot of blood for it to happen, too. A lot of lives have to be destroyed before the criminals decide to find a new line of work.
Lawful gun ownership is essential in combating crime, but it can’t be the only approach. There are a lot of other things we can and should do in hopes that we can prevent those shootings from happening. The gun should be the last resort, but it has to be an option; otherwise, people still die. They’re just the law-abiding, not the criminals.
For black gun owners, it’s especially important. Statistically, they’re more likely to live in high-crime areas. They’re also more likely to be targeted in actual hate crimes than a white guy like me. The idea that folks look at that and wouldn’t be armed is beyond ridiculous.
Frankly, I have to applaud Slate for stepping outside of their nice, comfy box and into something that couldn’t have been comfortable for the reporters or the editors there. My hope is that speaking with Blanchard opened their mind a bit, and maybe they recognize that gun owners aren’t the boogiemen we’ve been portrayed as for some time in the media.
We’ll have to see, but it would be a nice change of pace.