Why injecting race in the gun debate is a huge mistake

Why injecting race in the gun debate is a huge mistake
(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

Anti-gun zealots have a nasty habit of trying to make their opponents look as vile as humanly possible. After all, how many times has someone asked you why you support something like dead children or something equally stupid?

One favorite tactic of late has been to try and inject race into the discussion.

The idea is to try and make opposition to gun control racist. Many have claimed as much while others simply try and present a claim they can then spin into calling us all racist.

Take this piece over at the Good Men Project:

Dozens and dozens of other countries are able to craft a balance between public safety and gun rights, but not the US. Only in two countries in the world can a teenager legally acquire a semi-automatic rifle without a license: the US and Yemen. In Philadelphia, teens say that it is easier to get a gun than cigarettes. With each passing year in the US, there are more guns and fewer gun safety regulations. Just last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved a law which allows Texans to carry a handgun in public without a license or training.

In most of the world, there are common sense gun safety policies which contribute to lower rates of gun violence. Figure 1 illustrates that the US gun homicide rate is a multiple of the rate in most other countries. Of the nine countries selected to illustrate the range of deviation between the US and the world, the closest is Nigeria. Still, the US firearm homicide rate is roughly twice Nigeria’s. It is nine times the rate in Senegal. The worst comparison for the US is Japan. The US rate is over 200 times the rate in Japan. There are over a hundred other countries with lower rates of gun violence than the US. In other words, there are a plethora of other examples of how to craft more sensible gun safety policies.

I’m going to stop here to also point out that if you removed every gun homicide from the statistics, we’d still have a higher homicide rate than pretty much every other nation on that list. However, by focusing on “gun violence” and ignoring non-gun homicides, they hope you won’t realize that the problem isn’t the guns.

Moving on…

The extremist gun rights policies of the US disproportionately harm Black children. Figure 2 shows that US Black children die from guns at three times the overall US rate. The lack of gun safety policies as well as systemic anti-Black discrimination and inequality all contribute to this high gun mortality rate for Black children in the US. As illustrated in Figure 1, in the majority-Black countries of Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria, the rates of gun violence are all much lower than in the US.

There we go. There’s the idea that opposition to gun control is somehow racist.

However, there are some statistics the author here didn’t touch on, and that’s the impact of the gun laws he seems to favor.

For example, according to the FBI, white people account for just 55 percent of all weapons arrests despite accounting for more than 75 percent of the population. Meanwhile, black people account for 43 percent of all weapons arrests, yet are just under 14 percent of the population.

In other words, the gun laws the author calls for directly impact the black community to a massive degree as well. Does he really think that will somehow change if you pass a few more gun control laws? It’s not.

So while he throws the word “extremist” in front of anything to do with keeping the rights we’ve always had, the real extremism is creating a whole bunch of new laws that will criminalize even more Americans, many of them young black men, and claiming that refusing to incarcerate still more young black men isn’t racism.

The problem here is that the author tried to inject race into a debate without thinking through the totality of what he was trying to do. Maybe he should educate himself before he spouts off again.