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Gun Control: Tavis Smiley and Cornel West Need to Be Careful

April 27, 2013

gun control

The gun control debate is a very polarizing one. People believe guns should be banned. People believe guns are ruining our society. People believe anyone has the right to own one. I’ve kept my opinions private until I listened to callers this weekend on the Smiley and West radio show. Tavis made a point I agree with. He said “Assault and automatic weapons shouldn’t be on the streets in this country.” I fully agree. I even agree that extended round clips should also not be for private citizen (or sporting) use. Most semi-automatic pistols carry at least 10 rounds. In my opinion, that is sufficient for self-defense, (especially if you have marksman training) unless you are being ambushed or assaulted by assassins and that’s just a topic for another time.

I have great respect for all of the blacks that decide to risk anonymity to share their public opinions, lead movements, programs or protests designed to enhance the black race. However, as they gain notoriety and security they must also be careful not to abandon (intentionally or non-intentionally) the understanding of the common persons. The issues affecting you begin to shift as your economic security increases.

I’ve actually owned guns all of my adult life and I encourage anyone around me who are legally, mentally, domestically (Ex: Not foster parents) and physically (Ex: proper usage) able to do the same. Why? I’ll make my point in 3 enumerations.

1. In 1865 southern states adopted “black codes” which included restrictions for blacks to have firearms. By 1968, these codes were cleaned up and became the Gun Control Act of 1968. This Act included persons who were underage, “non-business” convicted criminals, mentally incompetent and users of illegal drugs. So let me highlight some key areas here. Those who commit white-collar crimes are allowed to still possess guns. Black men were falsely convicted of crimes, making them criminals. Black children were (still are) erroneously labeled mentally challenged. If you look closely at this you would see that these areas heavily target restrictions from the black community. Take it or leave it. The reasoning behind this whole disarmament during Reconstruction, in my opinion, was so that blacks could remain vulnerable. The Ku Klux Klan loved it this way but if they attempted to commit assaults against blacks who defended themselves with guns, the KKK retreated. Guess what? This is not a white attribute. It is the attribute of criminals. If criminals know their potential victims are armed, they retreat or reconsider bringing harm to them. Point blank! (No pun intended.) KKK and thugs are cowards! Have the means to defend yourself and they are gone!

2. Government can’t be fully relied on; whether intentional or non-intentional. Our 4th President of the United States, James Madison, said it best “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” With that being said, we must understand that our government has historically had it wrong many times over. And it is simply because they are being run by humans. Errors, conflict of interest, quid pro quo, job security and emotions all ruin our governmental concept. Cops are dispatched to the wrong addresses. Laws are passed that make matters worse (Ex: No Child Left Behind). So we can’t simply assume that everything the government says or does is a panacea. We are not Angels nor are we being governed in government by Angels. This is why we have the Bill of Rights; to make sure the people are not taking advantage of.

3. It’s about mental health. Men commit the most violent crimes and the majority of them are fatherless. This is a starting point. How are we handling fatherless children? Are the courts, mothers, therapists, family friends, teachers or aloof men doing their parts? We take aim at the gun the same way we take aim at “pitbulls”. We call guns dangerous like we call these dogs the most dangerous breed. Though I disagree, I can accept some of the points made against these breed of dogs. However, guns don’t have a mind or instinct of its own. Its actions are directly linked to the behavior of the person holding it. It is an abstract piece of material.

Here are some solutions – Take notice. All mass shooting happen at places where there are less likely to be guns. Attacks are at festivities, churches, schools and shopping districts. They are not happening at law enforcement shooting ranges, police balls, military ceremonies or military armories. They are happening where the gunman/gunmen believe they will be superior in the situation. So is it safe for me to conclude that law enforcement, politicians and military soldiers, in the eyes of government, are the only ones worthy of safety. Are their lives more precious than the citizens?

I think government should publicly encourage law-abiding able-bodied citizens to arm themselves. This would reduce criminals taking the risk to shoot up places where citizens congregate, perform car jackings, rape, kidnappings, home invasions and more. The flip side to this is, to be completely honest, government doesn’t really want citizens with guns because then it levels the playing field in threats and put law enforcement at a disadvantage. This area is so debatable but again, no time here.

True, countries with stricter gun possession laws have less murder by gun, but they also have less freedom of expression, speech, ownership, etc.

This debate really boils down to, do you trust government to keep you safe or do you want to take on some of that responsibility?

In conclusion, I think black people need to be extra cautious when we decide to jump into this Gun Control debate. Just like black women naively jumped into the women’s liberation feminist woman in the workplace movement, even though black women have always worked throughout the history of this country (whether for pay, slavery or indentured servitude), we must not jump into nor support a movement that will negatively affect us the most.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2013 11:46 am

    I think your positions are reasonable, and well-stated. They don’t apply to me personally, because I’m a committed pacifist – I don’t believe in killing, animals or people. I’m not saying you can’t make a different choice, but that’s mine. Safety and self-defense are different topics. For me, the best ways to defend my home are having an advertised alarm system, and good insurance against loss. As far as someone entering to attack, we have several exits and rehearse using them, which is applicable to any emergency. Fire’s a more likely event anyway. There are all kinds of ways to protect yourself from harm that are hard to write out as a plan, but are also valid. Consider living in a safer region or neighborhood. Make friends with those who live near you. Learn to read people and situations, so that when a dangerous one is forming you can LEAVE. Much of risk prevention is a matter of learning how NOT to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unpredictable catastrophes are extraordinarily rare. In the case of murders, it’s most often done by someone the victim already knows and has (or has had) a relationship with. And two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, so I think addressing whether the status of one’s mental health ought to affect ownership restrictions should be discussed more.

  2. May 1, 2013 7:21 pm

    Your post reminded me of a passage I read recently regarding ancient Rome. Thanks to the marvel of modern technology it was easy for me to locate the passage and pass it along. Of interest in the passage is Priscus’ reference to arms. A nation seeking to disarm its citizens, evidently, is nothing new, and did not arise with the advent of gunpowder. Also, this is not the only reference Gibbons makes to arms. In this passage Piscus is a part of a Roman embassy on its way to meet Atilla the Hun, who was harassing the Roman provinces. This journey took several weeks (if my memory serves me) and this passage takes place in one of the many camps along the way. The man whom Priscus meets provides a sort of outline of the decline of the Roman Civilization as experienced by himself:

    The historian Priscus, whose embassy is a source of curious instruction, was accosted in the camp of Attila by a stranger, who saluted him in the Greek language, but whose dress and figure displayed the appearance of a wealthy Scythian. In the siege of Viminiacum, he had lost, according to his own account, his fortune and liberty; he became the slave of Onegesius; but his faithful services, against the Romans and the Acatzires, had gradually raised him to the rank of the native Huns; to whom he was attached by the domestic pledges of a new wife and several children. The spoils of war had restored and improved his private property; he was admitted to the table of his former lord; and the apostate Greek blessed the hour of his captivity, since it had been the introduction to a happy and independent state; which he held by the honorable tenure of military service. This reflection naturally produced a dispute on the advantages and defects of the Roman government, which was severely arraigned by the apostate, and defended by Priscus in a prolix and feeble declamation. The freedman of Onegesius exposed, in true and lively colors, the vices of a declining empire, of which he had so long been the victim; the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes, unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of taxes, rendered still more oppressive by the intricate or arbitrary modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws; the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial administration of justice; and the universal corruption, which increased the influence of the rich, and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor. A sentiment of patriotic sympathy was at length revived in the breast of the fortunate exile; and he lamented, with a flood of tears, the guilt or weakness of those magistrates who had perverted the wisest and most salutary institutions.

    Gibbon, Edward (2008-07-24). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Kindle Locations 19451-19464). . Kindle Edition.

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