I received an email today from letargets.com. I was struck by the fact that none of their “realistic targets” included a person of color. So I clicked over to the website’s Scenario Targets section. Same deal. Not a single African American on the home page. Delving a bit deeper, I discovered a few token black people posing a pictorial threat to practicing shooters. As a white person (also African American) I resent the fact that my race has been singled-out for ballistic bullying. We’ve been stereotyped as thugs, robbers, nut cases, suicide bombers, etc. If you look at the ethic makeup of actual criminals (chart after the jump), it’s clear to see that letstarget.com is targeting Caucasians. Literally. Is that fair?

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73 Responses to Question of the Day: Why Is It OK To Shoot White People?

  1. I was working on some TV spots for a non-profit group sponsored by a state bar association from a Southern state (who can remain nameless, as I like getting paid). The voiceover talked about crime. I selected a couple of stock photos, one with a “Eurasian”-looking perp, the other with a black gang member type holding a gun on a black woman. Neither picture was approved by the client. They were afraid of being tagged for “racial stereotypes.” You have no idea how hard it was to find a picture of a white perp. The closest I could come was something that cartoonish, with a white guy wearing a black & white striped shirt and black mask over his eyes. If Dick Tracy had been in the shot, he wouldn’t have been out of place. Sheesh…

  2. I’m just thinking out loud (so to speak) here… maybe because if there were equal numbers of Black targets to White, there would be a huge uproar from the Black community.

    And frankly, I hate the hyphenated-American thing. It was bullshit then, it’s bullshit now. Either you’re an American or not. You can be proud of your ethic heritage all you like, but unless you have citizenship in more than one country, just state that country as yours.

    Oh, how did I get up on this soapbox? *steps down*

    • Rebecca,
      Being hyphenated doesn’t make anyone less American. I have yet to meet an African-American, Irish-American or Asian-American who has any less love for this country than an Anglo-American. I’m sure there are exceptions, of course.

      • I have – not all for sure, but I certainly have met folks whose love of America can certainly be called into question.

        Having said that – self-identify all you want, I will not lose any sleep over it…

    • I could care less what you think about the my ethnicity “bieng Hyphenated” I am a proud USMC combat veteran (OIF 1 and 2 Falluja) I am just as American as you or anyone on this board.
      Cpl. “Ramrod” Ramirez

  3. By the time this comment goes up, I’m sure there will be howls of outrage. But forget all the teeth-gnashing over racial profiling and political correctness. There are studies out there showing that perceptions of black men as criminal are disproportionate to their rate of offense, even though that rate is higher than whites as a group. If I were black, I’d support any countermeasure to this perception. It might save my life if I had my gun drawn in a defensive situation when white LEOs appear on the scene.

    But if you’re insisting on some sort of “truthful representation,” then the next question is this: who among us is damaged by this? If anyone here can demonstrate that his life has been adversely affected by LET, let him come forth and sue. They’re a private company and can do as they please. If you insist on black targets, buy elsewhere.

    • as a biracial ( think obama’s folks in reverse) gun loving American this is always been an issue that i have had. i tend to prefer zombie, silhouette and bullseye targets, with an occasional OBL (why not) to avoid theweirdness feelings . however Rokurota was so eloquent on this issue embodying my exact feelings.
      The key take away from his post IMHO: ” There are studies out there showing that perceptions of black men as criminal are disproportionate to their rate of offense.”

      bravo good sir

  4. Maybe african american targets don’t sell.

    I can just picture a bunch of good ol boys down at yonder range shooting at targets with pictures of colored people on them. That image in my head looks more like a white supremacist training camp than people practicing self defense.

    Why not just stick with zombie targets, or storm troopers, or koopa troopas?

    Sheesh… people are so easily offended these days.

    • I’m all for zombie targets! The bleeding ones come in white,black, gray and green. I’m insulted by the lack of Demented-Americans.

    • @ ak
      “That image in my head looks more like a white supremacist training camp than people practicing self defense.”
      yep that is exactly what it would look like. great fodder for the brady bunch and their ilk, irregardless if it was true or not, it is all about perception.

      “Sheesh… people are so easily offended these days”
      yep, the simplistic “reverse racism” claim will never die in our false “post racial” era

  5. I think these targets were designed to get police to NOT shoot black people in real life, or at least think twice about it. I heard they were LAPD-specific. Dammit we’re live targets enough. I guess one-time gets bored like the rest of us…

  6. framing the disparity in race of paper targets as a plot to get whitey is really immature. you are grown up enough to realize that businesses have been in the past and still are very sensitive to racial sensibilities, despite many people’s dubious claim that the election of a black person as President signals that racism has been rendered completely impotent, our society is not quite there yet.

    Perhaps they don’t want to get bad press when some white supremacist group buys their targets and uses them in a PR stunt, maybe they felt really uneasy asking black people to pose for the photos. maybe they thought that white people weren’t going to get all butthurt over it, I guess they were wrong.

    Now go list every model in the hostage pics as IGOTD for pointing guns at little kids.

  7. exactly gabba, adding the capitalist component into the mix certainly elevates the IQ of this discussion.

  8. Considering everything happening on our southern border, why don’t we have Mexican targets? Cartel guys in cowboy boots and tactical gear. I’d buy ’em.

  9. Why is everybody justifying LET’s targets? Can’t we admit they are just trying to be PC and think it’s more PC to target white guys?

    I think we need affirmative action for targets and we should demand that 13% of targets depict blacks.

    I hate PC. At least we have the Irish, you can always bash on them.

    • Oh now you’re just being hurtful, but as a proud descendant of Eireann I support equality in all targets big and small. However, I do ask that whoever chooses to market targets depicting Irishmen make sure they use an accurate photo like this one

  10. When you go to Clark Brothers in Warrenton, Virginia you have a choice between Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, both white guys. I suggest you start out with Billy Yank or you might receive some harassment.

    I don’t do silhouettes; white guys, black guys, Zombies or other humanoids. I do standard targets, some with furry creatures. My wife won’t let me shoot the gopher because my son attends the University of Minnesota.

    I give this topic zero stars.

  11. “I hate PC. At least we have the Irish, you can always bash on them.”

    yes, it is all about PC, no other oppressive factors or socioeconomic realities/disparities matter in this discussion. Nor does intelligent, $ making business decisions on behalf of target manufacturers matter.

    i bet you are from “real America” too?

    • Wow, personal attack, cool. Naw, I’m just a middle class engineer. Of course disparities exist, why does that make it cool to put white people on targets and not black people? Does that make them feel better about earning less money? Of course, you implied that they are lower socioeconomically.

      Of course it’s a business decision as to what to put on their targets. I just don’t like the climate that makes it OK to depict white guys on targets but not black guys.

      • “Of course disparities exist, why does that make it cool to put white people on targets and not black people?”

        what i was reffering to was the root of what is problematic with race/legal/economic (all of which are related factors) issues in the US.
        the result of these factors is the effed up relations we have, leading to black targets being problematic for firearms target consumers and businesses.
        the climate you are talking about is our current socio reality where the media, both news and entertainment consistently reaffirm our assumptions and pre conceived notions of who is a potential BG.
        apologies if you were offended the real america crack was snarky, end of the day sarcasm, but people simplifying racial disparities into a “PC is bad” argument is no good.

  12. Over the last hundred and fifty years or so, Americans have proven to be equal opportunity shooters. At one time or another, we successfully shot Germans, Japanese, Italians, Koreans, African-Americans, Vietnamese, Panamanians, Iraqis, Somalians, Serbians, Bosnians, Grenadans, Dominicans, Chinese, Nicaraguans, Mexicans, Spaniards, Austrians, Iranians, Laotians, Libyans, Bolivians, Colombians, Afghans, Sudanese, Pakistanis and Native Americans. We also spent four years shooting each other on an epic scale. I think we can all proudly say that we shoot people without regards to race, religion, color, creed, gender or national origin. So what’s the big deal if a couple of white guy targets get popped?

  13. That’s it, need another beer. I would prefer targets blank with weapons stenciled in, I am an equal opportunity shooter.

  14. RF says: “As a white person (also African American) I resent the fact that my race has been singled-out for ballistic bullying. We’ve been stereotyped as thugs, robbers, nut cases, suicide bombers, etc. If you look at the ethic makeup of actual criminals (chart after the jump), it’s clear to see that letstarget.com is targeting Caucasians. Literally. Is that fair?”

    Especially when you consider the centuries of slavery and racial oppression we’ve had to endure. It’s the great tragedy of American history: the plight of Western European Middle-Class white guys. Sometimes it’s so depressing you just want to throw your martini across the lawn.

  15. As an American of Spanish descent I am feeling slighted at the lack of brown targets. But I’ve remedied this, as I had access to a plotter printer and was able to print out life size targets of all nationalities.

    • As an American of Middle-Eastern heritage I too am dismayed at the lack of brown targets. However I lack access to a plotter printer so I’ll have to console my hurt feelings with Osama Bin-Laden Zombie targets.

      • I’m not American of any descent, but we shoot violet targets. Not that we have something against violet, just our plotter printer cartridge went loose and now refuse to print any color except violet.

  16. Sdog, I’m of the opinion that bowing to all this PC business only perpetuates it. It’s like we need to maintain disparity to prevent disparity. Being prejudicial towards whites somehow lowers prejudice in general?
    No doubt blacks have had a tough go in the past and some might argue that their plight continues, but I have never heard anybody discuss a timeline whereby special treatment ends. Unfortunately, it’s become an industry.
    Starting to get off topic but this ‘target’ thing is but a small piece of a much bigger picture.

  17. MAGOO says “RF: If you really have your heart set on shooting people of color”. Robert NEVER said or even implied that he wanted to shoot a person of color, he was pointing out how only WHITE people were being used as targets so as to not offend a person of color. I not surprised that you get FLAMED because you love to twist peoples words to better suit your cause. I love how Rebecca calls for an equal number of white and black targets, that way we would really be equal.

  18. To be quite honest, the only thing that offends me is the claim of realism. I can’t imagine what I (or most other people, for that matter) have to do to merit people in a HUMMER rolling up and gunning me down.

    Now if it was a beat-up 80’s Honda…

  19. Well technically speaking, if you happen to be the victim of a violent crime you’re overwhelmingly more likely to have the perp look like you. So unless you’re a person of color your want for targets depicting people of color to facilitate realistic training seems rather disingenuous.

  20. Come on people, look at the website and do some basic fact checking here!

    Like this http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=LE-12
    And this http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=HI-4
    Or this http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=USV-15

    But while we are calling into question their choice of subjects, can someone please explain to me why we would possibly need to practice on these ones? http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=LE-4
    http://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=LE-33

    Now you can return to debating whether the percent of “colored” targets accurately represents the racial breakdown in the U.S…

    • Not sure about the pregnant woman with a gun (now THAT would be a moral quandry!) but I suspect the cop target is useful in IDPA-style matches where you face a shoot/don’t shoot scenario. In other words, if you shoot the cop, you lose.

      As an aside, the whole racial sensitivity issue is why Matt Groenig gave Homer Simpson and family bright yellow skin (even though they are obviously as white bread as Ozzie and Harriet).

      • I do not know situation in US, but here, one and only case when you allowed to use force against pregnant woman, is case involving several pregnant women, attacking as group. One of questions in such situation: “are they attacking as coordinated group, or they attack you all by themselves, but it just happens for them to choose one time and place”. Before you accuse me of something, question was called by female officer.

      • I was at a range where this guy was shooting a target with a hot woman with a gun. I asked if it represented his ex-wife. He said yes and he wasn’t joking. He was a US Marshal.

    • Agreed. BS on this whole thread. Plenty of “dark” targets, if that’s who you all like to shoot…

    • Re:NsSW

      Absolutely abhorrent targets. A person could probably make a fortune selling targets that are the prejudice of your choice. Of course they would deserve the 7th ring of hell as a reward. We need ink control. First at the FED and second with lame ass target producers. Face it. Race relations are too damaged to encourage humanoid targets for any use.

  21. I don’t have any beef with either black or white or yellow or red targets, but I am now beginning to wonder if this kind of discussion thread in a previous era contributed to the NRA to adopt their “no human targets” policy.

    • Used to be there were no human targets anywhere. It would have been considered sick, or at the very least in incredibly poor taste. It just wasn’t done. Except for the FBI silhouette, I’ve never shot at a human-form target in my life. I was raised in a different world. On my first shooting team the coach was a priest, if you can imagine that. I’m trying to picture what he would do with one of these targets if he caught somebody with one. Tear it into strips and feed it to him, possibly.

      These human photo targets are a gun culture 2.0 thing. To people brought up on first-person-shooter video games and such, I’m sure it seems totally normal, but from my perspective the whole concept is perverse — and the argument about the ethnicity of the targets is a dark comedy. How do you argue about values and standards when you don’t have any… you end up here.

      • “Except for the FBI silhouette, I’ve never shot at a human-form target in my life.”

        That’s kinda like saying “Except for the bus and the subway I’ve never ridden public transportation in my life”.

        “I’m trying to picture what he would do with one of these targets if he caught somebody with one. Tear it into strips and feed it to him, possibly.”

        So, you were educated by people who think property destruction and assault are appropriate ways show disapproval of someone else’s perfectly legal activities. That actually explains a lot about you.

        “How do you argue about values and standards when you don’t have any… you end up here.”

      • These human photo targets are a gun culture 2.0 thing. To people brought up on first-person-shooter video games and such, I’m sure it seems totally normal

        I don’t know if you noticed or not but the company is called Law Enforcement Targets. I’ve been to their wearhouse in Blaine a couple of times to pick up USPSA/IPSC cardboard targets, and the vast majority of their business is selling targets and equipment to LE ranges. If you flip through their catalog you will see that they stock about every Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agency’s custom targets.

        These photo realistic targets are used in LEO training and nothing to do with “gun culture 2.0”

        (The people at LET are very nice, and have excellent customer service. I’d recommend them to anyone.)

  22. To quote an old Peanuts cartoon: “The problem with people today is too much apathy. On the other hand, who cares?”

    Maybe we can move on to really important topics like where we should place our shots on the cop target? 🙂

  23. ARE YOU F!CKING KIDDING ME! In the picture you posted on the website there is a black guy and he is stereotypically DRIVING THE HUMMER JACKASS! This is about as good as reporting on Obama’s terrorist fist bump with Michele. Seriously, FAIL!

    • What the hell are you talking about terrorist fist bump? I’ve never heard about M & B being accused of any sort of terrorist signaling. And have you seen any sort of sports? Everybody fist bumps. If you give validity to some asinine accusation, my friend it’s on you. And why is a black guy driving a Hummer stereotypical?

  24. Realistic targets seem like the kinda “proof” a DA would love to have to show that you WANTED to kill someone. BONUS if the targets resembled whomever you shot (in self defense).

  25. Personally, I don’t use humanoid targets. (I particularly hate the bleeding 3d torso targets) I worry about shot placement and regular old round targets work just marvelous for me. Double tap center mass and one up top. All roundish areas. I know you have to change your point of impact but you can drill for that any number of ways.

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