Edited 10/20/16 For Clarity and Grammar
Edited 3/28/16 – 11:45 Tags
I have a love/hate relationship with firearms.
On the one hand as a guy who played war and cowboys and Indians as a kid, an adult who has done archery and played countless shoot em ups, I’m fascinated by the skill it takes to hit a target at range. As a slightly paranoid father and household head, I am just as terrified of someone breaking into my home and assailing my family as I am paranoid that they will find, or wrestle a firearm from my hands as I attempt to defend myself.
As an African-American and a reader of history, I understand the complicated relationship we as a people have with firearms and how that relationship has been manipulated. As an American I see both sides of the debate, I see how an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment can be the determining factor in where you stand and how your race and background can figure equally into both your understanding of others feelings and your personal feelings about gun ownership. I also see how that is changing.
What I especially don’t care for is the manipulation of past restrictions on gun ownership by Black Americans by the NRA and other regressive organizations to make political points that work against us. Using the Black Codes as a means to flip the script and somehow paint gun owners as civil rights pioneers is deceitful, hateful and disrespectful as primarily white gun owner associations have never been either enslaved or restricted by the federal government to behave as full citizens, with equal rights under the law.
As a Progressive, I’m seeing both where we have far too many guns in the hands of untrained citizens as it is, and far too few in the hands of those who share my political philosophy. As a practicalist, I see how we are becoming more violent, more volatile as people. As a realist, I also see that part of the reason is that we have a massive proliferation of firearms.
With tensions in the country simmering to the point of boiling over, Trump firing up angry crowds and inciting violence, and most of these folks committed to defending what they feel is rightfully theirs regardless of a lack of logic behind any of it; I’m feeling more like Huey Newton and less like Mahatma Gandhi.
But the fact remains, firearm possession is legal in the United States, so the question becomes should Liberals and Progressives seek gun ownership?
I’m leaning towards yes.
It is ever so slightly paranoid to believe that some race war or civil war on any large scale, is coming. However, if the rise of Trump and his throng of angry and armed supporters decide to wreck havoc, is it not best to be prepared?
It is very easy to assail a person, to threaten them with a gun, a knife or some other sort of physical brutality on a whim if you feel you outgun them, this is an essential tendency of our species, the strong, for better or worse, feel empowered to prey on the weak. Indeed, if they already feel under siege, certainly if they feel emboldened and right. It is alw3ays easier to prey on someone weaker than you than it is to attack someone equal to or stronger than you.
Dominance over smaller women by larger men common in sports, most especially in MMA, is one example of this. Police using deadly force against suspects, primarily but not limited to men of color is another. Is not an equal playing field a guarantee of some semblance of safety?
I find myself now drifting into the realm of the Gun rights camp but not fully, not without the balance of statistics and not without significant reservations.
First reservation: Police.
There aren’t many police confrontations with open carry permit holders of color to compare to the ones posted on youtube with Caucasian men. This one recently occurred in Bridgeport CT, and pretty much goes the way most of the others do. But I do not trust already trigger happy police to handle every confrontation this way. They have proven time and time again that they are willing to break the law and assassinate people as a matter of course. Would people of color applying en masse to get permits change that script? Would Blacks, Browns, Liberals and Progressives open carrying make the same impact?
Second Reservation: Itchy Trigger Finger Syndrome.
The consensus found by recent studies is that having a gun in the home increases the chances of violence, either toward someone else or by self-harm. It is also has been the conclusion of a few studies that firearm possession increases not only the likelihood of their use in a confrontation but the escalation and threat of a confrontation itself in armed motorists. Concluding that people who are armed, and already angry feel extra empowered to use or brandish a firearm. Conservative white men who have grievances based on fear of the other have been involved in the majority of cases of road rage gun use, but would adding carrying Liberals, Blacks, Browns and Progressives who also have legitimate grievances to the mix not only increase the likelihood of violence? Are people indeed people across color lines and politics? My guess is yes.
Third Reservation: Critical Mass.
We’ve seen it time and time again, in many ways, we have this conversation in the first place because of critical mass. When the number, demographically, of “others” begins to eclipse the number of “whites” as it is starting to do now, the assumed balance is upset. The power structure is upended, and those who associated power with race (everyone) starts trying their best to adjust to the new reality. In the case of the United States, it isn’t going well at the moment. Many in the US, who self-identify as “white,” have enjoyed a long stretch of prosperity mostly inherited. The proof of this is all around us, said in explicit terms and implied in coded language that has become part of the vernacular. Many of these very people feel honestly that the election of Barak Obama was the death knell for the old America, which it was, but somehow despite the culture being a mix of the best and worst of all of us, this is only seen by them as a bad thing.
Others have had much more powerful things to say about this, and I suggest seeking them out. The fact remains that if the critical mass in legal gun ownership by Liberals, Progressives, Blacks and Browns is reached, judging by the knee-jerk reactions to the duly elected President, it will be ugly, probably very ugly.
Regardless of what we fear will happen, it is apparent that many folks are paranoid and armed.
Would balancing the paranoid and armed on the right with sober gun owners on the left be a good thing if the path we are on seems bound for confrontation? Or would the number of bullies be less likely to be dissuaded from starting aggressive movements if they knew those they oppose were armed as well?
I know this, an armed society is not immediately a polite one, a polite society is polite despite being armed or disarmed.
I’m still weighing my role in all this.
I wish no ill will on anyone, want nothing more than to live and let live and even find some common ground along the way. I also do not want to be the one with a target on my back. Despite what they may think the changing cultural demographics can benefit everyone, I just don’t want to be a victim of someone who has other ideas.