By Sara Tipton
Last week, Melissa Harris-Perry expressed concern about firearm ownership and the relaxing of gun laws nationwide. Her conclusion: more police lives are going to be in danger if gun laws are loosened. Harris-Perry said, “Is is possible that our lack of national, common sense gun control laws leads to a situation where it is more dangerous to be a police officer and so police officers begin acting in ways that they expect everyone to be armed?” But then she went further . . .
She also presented statistics from a report compiled by the Department of Justice on police activities in New York and Chicago, although she specifically focused her attention on the Philadelphia police department.
What she neglected to mention, however, that the DOJ report she quoted mentions two cities with extremely low concealed carry rates.
John Jay College’s Jon Shane alluded to these things when answered Harris-Perry’s questions by pointing out the need for “context.” He told her guns are not a new thing, that they have always been part of American society and “always will, and have always been a factor that’s trained on in policing tactics.”
And because he made his point successfully, Harris-Perry shifted the conversation away from how more law-abiding citizens with guns put police lives in danger and focused instead on how police are racially biased.
She ultimately concluded, “I guess part of what I will say is my concern that because of racial stereotyping that creates implicit bias, that for officers who are making a judgement call about whether they are in fear, that an African-American male body can be perceived as more dangerous than it actually, empirically is.”
What she didn’t say – what probably never occurred to her at all – is that given the rate of black-on-black crime, more concealed weapons in the hands of law-abiding African-Americans (or any race, for that matter) would result in more lives saved. If that’s her ultimately concern, you’d think she’d be in favor of more lawful gun ownership in the black community. I wonder why that didn’t come up in her presentation.