Posts Tagged ‘guns’

A Black Militia

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

There’s a black militia group in Atlanta called the “Not F***ing Around Coalition.” See also video of a march. The overtly racial tone of the group worries me.

Policing over Vigilantism

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Hopefully we can all agree now that professional policing is better than vigilantism, following a shooting at a New Mexico protest involving a paramilitary group.

Armed Does Not Mean Dangerous

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Adam Bates makes an excellent point: Just because police kill someone who is armed, hardly means the killing was justified. And even if an armed person is (unjustifiably) dangerous, police should make every reasonable effort to take the person safely into custody.

Black Man Pulls Gun in Self-Defense, Cops Arrest Him

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Five people harass and assault a black man. The black man calls police. Before police (sheriff’s deputies) show up, the black man pulls his gun to defend himself. And then guess what happened: “When the deputies arrived, they took the handgun from McCray, went back and talked to his antagonists, and then, without getting his side of the story McCray said, they arrested him.” Thankfully, the sheriff’s department finally got its act together, dropped the charges against the black guy, and arrested the actual criminals.

Render on Armed Black People

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Michael Render writes, “Following [Ahmaud] Arbery’s death, I issued a statement urging Black people and people of color to take seriously their Second Amendment rights. I was urging people who look like me to take seriously shooting, training, and the protection of our rights. I put this statement out because the police cannot always get to you on time, and the world is not a just place. I also released these remarks because we cannot assume that everyone who wears a police uniform is just and fair.” He adds, “The last thing that any of us need is more laws that will criminalize us.”

Render recommends a couple of books: This Nonviolent Stuff′ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, by Charles E. Cobb Jr.; and Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, by Kellie Carter Jackson.

Kopel on Racist Gun Control

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

David Kopel argues, “Throughout U.S. history, the right to bear arms has been associated with liberty and legal equality, and gun control with the opposite.” Offhand that strikes me as a bit of an overstatement, given that at various times armed white mobs brutalized black communities and others. But Kopel offers good evidence that the claim generally holds.

Kopel notes that 1619 was “the founding year for gun control in America, with a Virginia statute forbidding blacks and Indians to have arms, unless they were issued a license.” Under slavery, Kopel notes, gun control targeted slaves “and sometimes . . . free blacks as well.” Frederick Douglass discussed the problem of laws disarming black people. Kopel writes, “After blacks started using repeating rifles to resist lynch mobs, Florida in 1893 enacted the first American gun control specific to firearms types. It required a government license to possess” such guns.

Racist Gun Laws

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Ida B. Wells was a leading voice against lynchings during the 1800s. She and other black activists also urged black families to protect themselves with firearms, as Dave Kopel writes. Wells wrote about cases of black people successfully defending themselves and concluded: “The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for the protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged, lynched.”

The Florida legislature responded by requiring gun licenses, Kopel continues. The intent and effect of the restrictions was to disarm black people.

Soham Sankaran writes, “Both laws protecting gun ownership and gun control laws had racist intents and produced racist effects.” He also wrote a longer essay on the topic.

Armed Black Protesters Arrested in North Carolina

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Jordan Green has the story: “As a peaceful protest was dispersing on Tuesday night [June 2], Greensboro police arrested six African-American men, charging them with violating a North Carolina statute called ‘Weapons at Parades Etc. Prohibited’ and seizing guns from five of them. In contrast, three white men, including one with a history of firearms training with open white supremacists, showed up armed with handguns and rifles while wearing paramilitary gear at the protests on the first three nights while making violent posts on Facebook, and have so far managed to avoid incurring any similar charges from the Greensboro Police Department.” The double standards here are shocking.

Armed Black Gym Owner Seeks Peace at New Mexico Rallies

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Generally I worry about people bringing guns to protests. But the Santa Fe New Mexican tells the interesting story of how an armed black man and gym owner in Albuquerque, Jon “Bones” Jones, sought to keep the peace at protests. I found it amusing that the article does not even mention the fact that Jones is black, although it shows a video of him. I have no problem with armed shop owners protecting their shops from looting and destruction, so long as they’re careful about it and not needlessly confrontational. I’d rather the professional police forces actually do their jobs and keep the peace and protect people’s property. As for those who want to “defund the police,” what do they think that looks like, if not more people taking defensive measures into their own hands?

Guns and Suicides

Monday, June 8th, 2020

“Handgun Ownership Greatly Increases Suicide Risk,” write Heath Druzin and Jeremy Bernfeld. They summarize, “Researchers from Stanford University tracked more than 26 million people in California who did not own guns before Oct. 18, 2004. Just under 3%, or 676,425 people, became gun owners between Oct. 18, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2016. Nearly all were handguns. The risk of suicide in this group, researchers found, was about nine times higher than among non-gun owners. Nearly 18,000 people tracked in the study died by suicide. Roughly 7,000 of those deaths were by firearm suicide.”

But what is the actual causal chain here? The study (lead David M. Studdert) states, “The risk of suicide by firearm among handgun owners peaked immediately after the first acquisition, but 52% of all suicides by firearm among handgun owners occurred more than 1 year after acquisition.” The most reasonable interpretation of this is that some suicidal people buy a gun to kill themselves. This does not imply that, had these suicidal people not purchased a gun, they wouldn’t have committed suicide. There are many ways to kill yourself.

Here is another tidbit from the study: “A total of 676,425 cohort members acquired one or more handguns, and 1,457,981 died; 17,894 died by suicide, of which 6691 were suicides by firearm.” In other words, almost no one who owned a gun committed suicide. And most people who committed suicide did so by means other than a gun.

An obviously stupid conclusion to draw would be, “Owning a handgun causes a normal person to be more suicidal.” Most people simply are not suicidal, and owning a gun, or a rope, or sleeping pills, or whatever, does not make them suicidal.

That said, it’s reasonable to think that, among the small subset of the population that is suicidal, owning a gun increases the risk of suicide. The obvious solution to that is to expand help for suicidal people.

Here is an analogy. Let’s say that we found that purchasing certain sorts of books or magazines, or reading certain sorts of web pages, made some people more suicidal. (I suspect this is actually the case.) Would the reasonable approach be to censor that material for all people or to get help for the few people who need it?