Gun Control and Racism

A post from Professor Nicholas Johnson:

Even the roughest cut at the question shows that substantial swath of the Black community would reject Whitlock’s thesis. National polling by the Pew Research Center recently asked,  “What do you think is more important – to protect the right of Americans to own guns, or to control gun ownership?” Fifty-four percent of whites and 30 percent of Blacks said it was more important to protect gun rights. Respondents were also asked “Should States and Localities be able to pass laws banning handguns?” 64 percent of Blacks said yes and 30 percent said no.  Based on these results, Whitlock must conclude that a third of the Black community are Klan sympathizers.  And that actually is the least absurd implication of his “analysis.”

And that’s only looking at national surveys with very small samples of blacks. Read the whole thing. He goes on to plug his upcoming law review, which I have read a draft of. It’s quite good and I look forward to it coming out:

Whitlock’s commentary is also problematic at another level that I elaborate in detail in my forthcoming article, Firearms Law and The Black Community:An Assessment Of The Modern Orthodoxy (Connecticut Law Review) and a forthcoming book based on that research, “Negros with Guns: The Dual Tradition of Non-Violent Social Change and Individual Self-Defense (Prometheus).  This work explains that the basic premise of the modern gun control movement – that people should rely on government for personal security- is wildly at odds with the Black experience in America. No group in the nation has better reason to doubt the competency and benevolence of the state. For most of the Black experience in America, the state has been an overt menace.

This is going to be an important new work for waging the culture war against gun control.

5 thoughts on “Gun Control and Racism”

  1. It really irks my inner OCD nazi when Black is capitalized but not white (or vice versa).

    A few years ago the US Naval Institute apparently got jealous of the capitalization of Marines (as in US Marine Corp) and decreed that henceforth, sailor (and probably airman too) should be Capitalized, somehow forgetting that sailors are in the Navy, not the Sailor Club. Now if they wanted to call them Canoemen, I could live with that, but I was a sailor, not a Sailor, and the petty jealousy it showed irked me just as much.


  2. I would submit that one of our political problems is that with the existence of the often illogical “team sport” divvying-up of issue positions between the “conservative” bundle and “liberal” bundle, the RKBA is often bundled with a lot of other issues that blacks oppose — including a political party — and therefor opposition to gun rights comes (equally illogically) from association rather than valid cause.

    I would also submit that in the past it has come through that “we” white, middle-aged, often-rural men are not particularly sympathetic to blacks, so again we have the problem of “association” — if gun rights have been generally “our” issue, they must be an issue for blacks to oppose. I have told the stories before of both legislators and gun rights activists trying to persuade me/us to support some Get-Tough-On-Crime, Gun Control Lite, by telling stories of [n-words] (and, using that word) committing unspeakable crimes on the persons of young, blonde-haired, blue-eyed coeds or convenience store clerks. The point being, those people (and I emphasize including legislators) assuming, without knowing us, that appealing to racism — and speaking its language — would sway us, spoke volumes about our cause’s stereotype. And if that is what some Republican legislators and the gun rights activists who worked with them assumed, can blacks themselves be faulted for making the same assumptions, and not caring to fellow-travel with us?

  3. Its funny that in the 1990s when Los Angeles,ca county banned guns including “saturday night specials” If I were a poor black man just trying to make a living to provide for my family. The current gun ban doesn’t allow me to protect my family because a saturday night special is all I could afford. So whos the racist.

  4. A friend brought up an interesting speculation. He asked me if I felt Blacks are inferior to Whites? I indicated I did not. He replied, “Well, if they are then we’ll know soon enough with all these guns being carried by citizens.” I thought about that all day and it’s interesting. What if Blacks, (statistically speaking), can’t carry a gun for 6 months before the desire to shoot someone overpowers them? What if 4/5 blacks who carry end up “having to shoot” someone and yet maybe 1/300 Whites do the same thing…….excuse me….if this happens you can throw out all that fancy rhetoric we’ve taught since the civil rights movement. The possibility that a small, metal, inanimate, object could reveal the truth or falsehood of a belief is what the future will reveal. Very interesting.

    1. I was just thinking of a very old joke by one of the old-time comedians — I forget who. It went approximately, “Italians may have been poor, and they may have been uneducated and ignorant, but they had something everyone respected — a gun.”

      That may also have been true in its time about the Irish, who were the last major mass-influx immigrant ethnicity to precede the Italians. My maternal grandfather’s (Irish) brother did two hitches in prison and my father’s oldest brother (Eastern European) died in prison.

      But the point is that ethnicity with regard to violence or crime is usually more related to an ethnicity’s economic conditions than ethnicity or race itself. So if at any time in our history, the low people on the economic totem pole had stood out sharply to be dangerous while in possession of guns, it would have proved nothing about either guns or the ethnicity.

      Not necessarily directly relevant to this thread, but, it reminded me that some of the most mouth-watering guns I ever saw and handled when I was a kid were owned by one of our fishing buddies, Slim Johnson, an old black man who lived in a house on a back street of Newtown that looked like it could tumble down any time. He knew how to keep a low profile — and he did.

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