I’ve been putting a lot of time and thought into the racial implications of U.S. gun laws. As you may know, American gun control legislation has its roots in the south, as a method for keeping blacks powerless and, originally, enslaved. Fast forward to today, and minority communities have the lowest rate of legal ownership in the United States. You could argue that this is precisely the group that needs legal guns the most; they live in the urban, high crime areas where the vast majority of [illegal] gun crimes are committed. Aside from the economic argument (restrictive gun laws and high licensing fees are especially prohibitive for low-income Americans), there may be a cultural aspect to their reticence. More specifically, they could be afraid—not without justification—that legal gun ownership puts them in mortal peril re: the police. A lawsuit in the Lone Star State—Shomari Staten v. The City of Carrollton Texas and Officer David Tatom—is bringing the issue to the fore.
Mr. Staten, an African American, alleges that the Carrollton police used excessive force against him the moment he revealed that he had a legal, concealed handgun. He further alleges that the police arrested, injured and intimidated him when he went to the police station to file a complaint. We’ll be following this case as it progresses through the courts.
Meanwhile, many African Americans, Hispanic and Asian-American communities are suffering from a plague of gang violence, where drugs and illegal guns are tearing the surrounding social fabric to pieces. There are those, as in the video above, who see gun culture as the root of all evil. Maybe so. There is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging non-violence, and policing and punishing anyone involved in illegal activities.
But perhaps it is the lack of a gun culture that’s enabling the criminal activity in these communities. As the police haven’t been able to quell the gangs and casual gun crime on their own, perhaps they should partner with the local community in the most dramatic way possible: by helping law-abiding citizens protect themselves, their family and their property by exercising their Second Amendment rights. Safely, legally and effectively.
At the very least, the police should be treating legal gun owners with respect and dignity. One can understand their paranoia, but one can never condone its expression in this way. In that sense, gun ownership may be the ultimate test of society’s tolerance and desire for social cooperation. Go figure.