Being a good black person with a gun

the perception of arms and race

art of the shot
Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense
Annoyingly frequently, a story will catch my attention in the “while black” section of the news. In this case, “sleeping while black.”

A black woman was shot and killed after Kentucky police entered her home as she slept, her family says. “Louisville Metro Police Department officers were looking for a suspect at the wrong home when they shot and killed Breonna Taylor, according to a lawsuit.” Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who had a licensed firearm, fired his gun when he thought someone was breaking in. He was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer.

People have asked me if I would feel safer being a good black person with a gun. Hell, no.

Back in 2018, a black man killed by police in Alabama mall was shot from behind. “Emantic ‘EJ’ Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21, was shot when police officers responding to reports of gunfire at the mall mistook him for the gunman. According to witnesses, Bradford was helping other shoppers to safety.”

That same year, there was an interesting article in The New York Times. ‘I Am the “Good Guy With a Gun’: Black Gun Owners Reject Stereotypes, Demand Respect. “After recent incidents in which police officers shot black men who tried to stop a shooting, African-American gun owners told us how they navigate being wrongly perceived as a threat.”

In the second half of 2018 alone, at least three black men in the United States had been shot by police in separate incidents while trying, according to witnesses, to stop an active shooting. Jordan Klepper, in his short-lived series, produced a piece, Open Carrying While White vs. Open Carrying While Black.

Philando Castile, RIP

I’m still pained, and slackjawed by the death of Philando Castile in 2017, a black man with a legally-owned gun, who announces in a traffic stop that he has a weapon in the vehicle and ends up dead.

This story is interesting: Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US. “Would tighter gun laws help protect African Americans or make them more vulnerable to racism and police brutality? Charles E Cobb Jr notes of the civil rights movement that “if not for the threat of gunfire, many more peaceful protests – and possibly the movement itself – would have been silenced by violence.”

Still, the perception of arms and race are quite different. And historical. Check out The Racist Origins of US Gun Control Laws Designed To Disarm Slaves, Freedmen, And African-Americans by Steve Ekwall.

In 2016, Agent Orange encouraged supporters to “watch” polls on election day. And similar noise is being made this year. Yet the tiny New Black Panther Party doing it in previous years was seen as terrorism, not Second Amendment freedom. What’s the difference here? It’s as simple as black and white.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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