The right to bear arms is a right that has been enjoyed by Americans of all races since the Bill of Rights was ratified. Law-abiding gun owners use guns every day to protect their homes, families, and themselves from people who wish to do them harm.
Gun rights are African-American rights. Guns have often been a way for disadvantaged communities to protect themselves when other sources of protection fail them.
During the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, Korean-American business owners protected themselves from rioters when police abandoned the city, protecting their sections from the destruction and looting that affected the communities around them. During race riots following a police shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, black gun owners protected a community convenience store. Several men and a woman, all black, took shifts guarding the white-owned store while many stores in the surrounding area were looted and damaged.
The protection that Korean-Americans in Los Angeles and the community in Ferguson gave to the store owner was only possible because of legal private gun ownership. The protection was only necessary because of abandonment of those areas by the local police. The police were too overwhelmed and outnumbered to be able to stop the looting in both cases, so they were unable to offer protection. In both cases, the riots started because of what police had done to young black men, one being shot, and another beaten ruthlessly. A country where law-abiding black Americans are unable to get weapons to defend themselves will be a country where they only have the police and the state to rely on for protection. This is an unacceptable solution given the long history of mistreatment of black Americans by the state and some police departments.
African-Americans are, on average, more than twice as likely to be a victim of robbery than whites. Robberies often happen in one’s own community, and even in one’s own home. Laws infringing on the right to bear arms would take guns from previously law-abiding gun owners who have guns to protect themselves in communities ravaged by crime. They take guns away from law-abiding black Americans who use their weapons to protect themselves and their homes and their community. Opponents of this line of thinking may say the gun laws will help keep guns out of criminals’ hands and curb violence. This is possible, but the U.S. government does not have a history of succeeding at prohibition of anything.
While African-Americans constitute only around 13% of the US population they account for half of homicide victims. The national debate on gun control has rested on mass shootings, which disproportionately affect women and white people, but the most common victim of gun violence by far is young black men. It is hard not to feel that the conversation has been swayed away from the numerically superior and seemingly more pervasive issue of individual gun violence that plagues many black communities because of an apathy towards gun deaths within black communities.
A solution to some of these problems is not restricting the right to bear arms of law-abiding citizens in all communities, but particularly black communities to get concealed carry permits and to protect themselves and their communities. Criminologist John Lott found that a 1% increase in the amount of concealed carry permit holders in a particular area is associated with a 2.5% decrease in the murder rate. John Lott also found that those citizens with concealed carry permits commit crime at a fraction of the regular population, and even police. Concealed carry permit holders commit less than 17% of the amount of crime that police officers do.
The protection of all communities can only come from within those communities, and law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits and weapons is the way to achieve that in 2020. Police and the state cannot be relied on for protection, for black people or any people.
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Samuel Urban is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.