I recently had the honor of being on the Dr. Vibe Show to discuss my previous article on this topic, Three Reasons Why Black Men Should Openly Carry a Gun After Trayvon, Ferguson and John Crawford. People can see by my writing that I'm liberal on most issues, but thinking outside the box and possibly alienating myself from fellow liberals (and angering conservatives who are frightened by the title of these articles) is worth it; especially if it means ending the deaths of unarmed black citizens. While I'm in no position to tell anyone how to live, and I've never before advocated gun ownership, it's apparent to me that the solution to racism and racial profiling is right before our eyes.
Contrary to conventional thinking on both sides of the political divide, more legal guns in the hands of law-abiding black men will defeat racism and end racial profiling in this country.
Specifically, openly carrying a handgun in a hip holster will serve as a sign to everyone (law enforcement, the Wal-Mart employees frightened that a black man is holding a Wal-Mart air gun, the paranoid neighborhood watchman, an average citizen on the street) that black men in this country don't correlate to the various prejudices Americans have towards dark skin. Below are three more reasons why the 2nd Amendment and open carry will help protect the civil rights of African-Americans, defeat racial profiling in America, and help eliminate tensions that have existed for centuries.
1. Racism and a bias against dark skin exists in America. Openly carrying a gun, in a hip holster, can defeat this entrenched prejudice.
It's not racist to discuss racism in this country, as some conservatives claim, and the evidence is overwhelming that race place a factor in our criminal justice system. Furthermore, these discussions shouldn't lead conservatives to fear that "white people are being labeled racist" or that a "race card" is being played by anyone.
I'm white, not racist, and advocating black men openly carry a gun.
When highlighting the fact that African-Americans experience different interactions with police than I do, there's no reference to guilt or blame. Racism exists (in the form of the evidence presented in this article, fore example) and acknowledging its existence need not open a Pandora's Box of emotionally charged hyperbole. Therefore, if anyone doubts the existence of racism in America, please consider the following facts.
As stated in a Harvard University study titled, Skin Color Paradox, "Dark skin evokes fears of criminality" and as a result, "racial minorities with dark skin in the United States have been disproportionately disadvantaged for centuries."
According to Cornell Law School, studies on the death penalty and blacks in America reveal that "black features" increased the odds of lethal injection:
Black facial features served up to 8 months longer in prison for felonies than defendants who possessed the least stereotypically Black features...
The results confirmed that, above and beyond the effects of the covariates, defendants whose appearance was perceived as more stereotypically Black were more likely to receive a death sentence than defendants whose appearance was perceived as less stereotypically Black.
Not only will looking black in America get you longer sentences, it will also increase the likelihood of getting the death penalty. These studies also correlate to a Wall Street Journal article stating that blacks face 20 percent longer prison sentences than whites for the same crimes. This bias is so ingrained in our consciousness that according to Devah Pager of Princeton, black men and white felons have the same chances of being hired in America.
If you feel this is merely left-wing propaganda, then consider some more evidence.
Up until recently in New York, 9 out of 10 people "stopped and frisked" were either African-American or Latino according to CNN:
Nearly nine out of 10 people "stopped and frisked" under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.
The data comes from a report released by the NYPD Monday, which showed that of the 685,724 stops made by police that year, 53% of those questioned were black, 34% were Latino, 9% were white and 3% were Asian.
...The top reason for stop-and-frisks in 2011 was for suspicion of weapons possession, accounting for more than 25% of all stops.
Stop-and-Frisk was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge, since the practice violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of those being stopped.
Furthermore, Stop-and-Frisk can't work in a state that allows people to openly carry a handgun in a hip holster. For example, an indignant black citizen might rightfully claim profiling by pointing to the fact that only someone with a clean record could legally carry a gun in public. If there's "suspicion," then this suspicion on the part of law enforcement might then have to be explained in court, if the citizen demanded to file charges on the officer that confiscates the weapon, or breaches his or her 4th Amendment rights. Interactions with law enforcement are inherently different with open carry, and this could help millions of African-Americans circumvent the prejudice that leads to racial profiling.
In addition, while many conservatives are quick to claim that race had nothing to do with Ferguson, they conveniently forget that a St. Louis police lieutenant was fired this year for "targeting blacks." As stated in The Riverfront Times, a high-ranking police officer was fired in May for racial profiling:
St. Louis County Police Fire Lt. Patrick Hayes, Accused of Targeting Blacks For Arrests
"Let's have a black day." "Let's make the jail cells more colorful."
These are statements that St. Louis County Police Lieutenant Patrick Hayes allegedly made while encouraging other officers to specifically target black residents for arrests, the Post-Dispatch reports.
The termination apparently comes after a six-month internal investigation into whether Hayes had ordered officers to target black people in and around retail centers in south county.
One of these retailers was Wal-Mart, and oddly enough John Crawford was shot at a Wal-Mart, holding a Wal-Mart air gun inside the section of the store that sells guns. Here's the video of Crawford's death. Although I'm not blaming Wal-Mart for anyone's death, it speaks volumes that the quintessential American retailer (that sells guns) has been involved with two incidents involving black shoppers. Bearingarms.com has an excellent article on Crawford's death.
In addition, The Washington Post states Darren Wilson's old job was at a department that had immense racial tensions with black citizens:
The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch.
That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson.
Although Sean Hannity picks one eyewitness testimony that fits his narrative while berating a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, PBS New Hour states, "More than 50 percent of the witness statements said that Michael Brown held his hands up when Darren Wilson shot him. (16 out of 29 such statements)."
Also, it's interesting that Michael Brown had "no most-serious felony convictions or pending cases" according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.
For some reason, most Wilson supporters never cite the fact that Michael Brown had no felony convictions.
I wonder why.
2. Black men are not a threat. Openly carrying a handgun in a holster will illustrate this fact, as stated by gun advocates who agree with my idea.
The vast majority of African-Americans will never have an interaction with the criminal justice system. According to Princeton University, about 75 percent of black adults in the United Stated DO NOT have a felony record (the figure states 25 percent do). Even if figures project that 1 in 3 black males will go to prison at some point, then that also means 2 in 3 will never go to prison.
What many people fail to remember about gun ownership in America is that a person can't legally own a gun with a felony record, domestic violence conviction, illegal drug conviction, or even if under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment.
The facts behind legally owning a gun completely undermine the basis of racial prejudice.
Again, when one carries a gun in public, others must assume that this person is an honest citizen.
As eloquently stated by Robert Farago in Thetruthaboutguns.com, open carry is the solution to police brutality:
As huffingtonpost.com blogger H. A. Goodman suggested, open carry could act as a deterrent against police "over-zealousness." I think that's right.
When I opened carried in Rhode Island . . . The cops didn't give me a second glance...
I also assume that if the cops hadn't assumed I was a cop, and I lived in a state where open carry was commonly practiced, the police would assume that I was a law-abiding citizen. What criminal would openly carry a firearm? They carry covertly, as they have since guns were invented, to maintain stealth and the element of surprise.
So Goodman's right. In the sense that open carry could help chill right-thinking po-po; it could de-escalate cop - civilian tension.
Therefore, any fear that open carry will allow "criminals" to merge with honest citizens inevitably applies to all gun owners who open carry. As stated by Mr. Farago, "What criminal would openly carry a firearm?"
Another article in Gunnews.com also agreed with my view that open carry can help African-Americans defeat racial profiling. As stated by Tom Hudson, open carry is a public demonstration illustrating that a citizen must be treated with respect:
The best part is that I support this idea 100 percent. Goodman is attempting to bring focus to what he sees as the disproportionate number of black males being killed by police and the fact that the greater majority of black males have never committed a crime. So, by open carrying, they would be demonstrating to the police that they are law-abiding citizens who have passed background checks...
Goodman's thesis is one in which I can get behind 100 percent, because I feel that all citizens need to be responsible for their self-defense.
I agree with all three of these points [in Goodman's article], but why should it only be limited to black males?
To be clear, the points in my previous article apply to people of all races and ethnicities, and anyone who feels their rights could be protected by open carry. Also, although Mr. Hudson disagreed with some of my other views, I'm thankful that he and Mr. Farago clearly viewed the reasoning in my advocacy of black men openly carrying a gun. As Mr. Hudson states, "they would be demonstrating to the police that they are law-abiding citizens who have passed background checks."
This sentiment is exactly why I believe open carry will help defeat racial profiling.
3. Forging alliances with those on the opposite end of the political spectrum will help African-Americans destroy racism.
There are already nationally recognized individuals like Colion Noir, Rick Ector and others who further gun rights for all Americans, including African-Americans, and single-handedly destroy racial stereotypes simply by holding a weapon. As stated by Rev. Kenn Blanchard, "Gun rights are civil rights" and "Criminals don't open carry."
Finally, according to Theroot.com, more than half of all black Americans in live in the South. The business of guns resides more in Southern states than in any other region of the country. If the NRA and gun manufacturers see that marketing to tens of millions of African-Americans also means being more cognizant of issues like racial profiling, we'll all witness a sea change in American politics. Suddenly, Sean Hannity and Fox won't be so quick to fall in love with Cliven Bundy, while simultaneously ignoring the tyranny faced by black citizens across the country.
A legal, constitutionally protected way to defeat racism is right in front of us. After all, everyone can relate to not wanting to be viewed as a criminal, regardless of how they feel about climate change or taxes.
It's time black men across the country openly carry a gun and it's time the NRA, Tea Party and others support this idea.