Why Michigan Report On Racial Disparities On Gun Arrests Matters

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

On Thursday, Cam wrote about a report on racial disparities in gun arrests. It was an interesting look at the subject at a time when the left–the very people who typically push for gun control–is all about racial equality or equity or whatever term they want to use.

However, the findings out of Michigan are interesting. Here’s a recap of what Cam reported:

Today’s gun control activists use colorblind language in their push to restrict the right to keep and bear arms, but as a recent report by the Ingham County, Michigan prosecutor’s office reveals, racial minorities are still far more likely to bear the brunt of gun control enforcement.

The findings aren’t pretty, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said. But it’s important prosecutors look at the data to see what changes they can make to try to decrease inequities in the system.

“What we don’t know yet is what does this really mean,” Siemon said.

Some of the preliminary data that has been released showed that in 2019:

  • Black people were 1.7 times more likely than white people to be stopped by police
  • Once stopped, Black people were three times more likely to be searched despite not being any more likely to have drugs or weapons on them.
  • Black people were 14.2 times more likely than white people to be arrested for and charged in a case where the most serious offense was weapons-related (most of these cases involved guns).
  • Black people were 5.1 times more likely to have their cases referred to the prosecutor’s office by police
  • Lower-income people were 1.7 times more likely to have their cases referred to the prosecutor’s office by police

While Carol Siemon may not be sure what this data really means, I’ve got an idea. It means that, thanks to a decades-long push to make gun ownership taboo in Democrat-controlled cities like Lansing (Ingham County’s most populous city and the state capitol of Michigan), a disproportionate number of black and low-income residents are ending up arrested, charged, and convicted for non-violent possessory gun offenses like carrying a gun without a license.

I find it amusing how this report isn’t getting nearly the attention that Carol Anderson’s book is getting.

In response to the book, many have pointed out that no, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with racism and on the contrary, gun control is what has the racist roots.

However, this report matters beyond all of that. See, what it makes clear is that we need to take a deeper look nationwide. If black people are 14.2 times more likely than white people to be arrested for simply carrying a firearm–note that these aren’t felons carrying guns, just ordinary people–then maybe we need to take a long look at some things.

For one thing, Michigan is a “shall issue” state, which seems to suggest that these people should have no trouble getting a permit. However, Michigan also requires training prior to getting that permit and a $100 permitting fee, meaning that a permit can be rather expensive. Is that where the issue is?

This study matters not just because it shows how gun control laws are still hurting black men and women, but also because it can help us look deeper at the subject of gun control in general and how it impacts all manner of groups.

While anti-Second Amendment advocates claim they’re using data to drive their arguments, this is data they’re sure to ignore. Cam noted that Democrats need to completely rethink their views on gun control in light of this. I agree, they need to, but they won’t. Not unless they’re forced to by the voters.

Regardless, though, we need more studies like this. Do these numbers extrapolate out similarly beyond Michigan’s borders? This is the kind of thing we need to know. If so, it becomes much harder for anti-Second Amendment advocates to ignore.

Who knows, maybe they’ll finally admit to not caring about black folks one way or another, so long as you don’t get to own a gun.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET