Please, Stop Pretending Opposition To Gun Control Is Racist

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Over the last couple of days, the news cycle has been pretty preoccupied with Afghanistan, and for some pretty valid reasons. However, not everyone has forgotten about pushing for gun control, unfortunately.

I say “unfortunately” for a number of reasons, one of which is the push is little more than an attempt to strip us of our constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Another is that, for some, it seems the only reason to oppose gun control is because of racism.

For some of us, the census data released Thursday was fascinating. For others, it was, I would presume, downright frightening.

Much of what we have seen in recent years — the rise of Donald Trump, xenophobia and racist efforts to enshrine or at least extend white power by packing the courts and suppressing minority votes — has been rooted in a fear of political, cultural and economic displacement.

The white power acolytes saw this train approaching from a distance — the browning of America, the shrinking of the white population and the explosion of the nonwhite — and they did everything they could to head it off.

They tried to clamp down on immigration, both unlawful and lawful. They waged a propaganda war against abortion, and they lobbied for “traditional family values” in the hopes of persuading more white women to have more babies. They orchestrated a system of mass incarceration that siphoned millions of young, marriage-age men, disproportionately Black and Hispanic, out of the free population.

They refused to pass gun control laws as gun violence disproportionately ravaged Black communities.

There we go.

Now, let’s be fair here. The author isn’t wrong. So-called gun violence does disproportionately hit black communities. This isn’t factually wrong.

Where he’s wrong is in the implication that opposition to gun control is somehow racially motivated because black lives don’t matter to folks like you and me. That’s simply not true.

See, what the author fails to recognize is that even if gun control laws actually worked, the enforcement of those laws also disproportionately impacts black communities.

Take New York City’s very strict gun control laws. If you look at who is picked up on weapons charges, it’s more likely to be black or Hispanic residents who don’t know how to finesse the system to get a gun lawfully.

Over and over again, we see young black men arrested for weapons charges–nothing else, just having a gun–while such charges are rarer for white people. That’s the impact of gun control.

Does that mean gun control is racist? Historically, it was. It was created as a way to keep freed slaves from being able to defend themselves from white mobs. This continued on through the Civil Rights Movement when the Klan really preferred not getting shot while trying to intimidate black men and women.

These days, gun control may not be as racially motivated as in the past, but that doesn’t shelter the black community from the racial disparity in the enforcement of these laws. Gun control, by all practical measures, is just as racist today as it was in the 1870s.

So stop pretending that it’s the opposition to gun control that’s really racist. History isn’t on your side.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET