Over and over and over again, we hear the same bleating from those who are against this, or that, or the other thing. They blame the instrument rather than the cause. Those in favor of more gun control are particularly guilty of that error - and one of their representatives has just made it again.
This deadly connection between white supremacy and guns runs throughout our history. In 1866, armed Confederate loyalists stormed the Louisiana Constitutional Convention, murdering 34 Black Americans in an attempt to block suffrage for freed slaves. In 1898, an armed White mob in Wilmington, N.C., proclaimed a “White Declaration of Independence,” then killed at least 60 residents before replacing the multiracial local government with white supremacists. In 1921, mobs of armed White residents of Tulsa attacked the Black neighborhood of Greenwood, murdering as many as 300 Tulsans for the crime of being Black and successful. In 1955, Emmett Till was tortured and shot in the head by White vigilantes. And today, mass shootings – from the church in Charleston to the supermarket in El Paso to the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. — have been committed by white supremacists filled with hate and armed with a gun.
Simply put, if the Confederate flag is the primary symbol of white-supremacist hate, the gun is its deadliest weapon.
We have begun, as a nation, to slowly address the problem of the Confederate battle flag ... But the truth is that taking down symbols of hate means very little unless we also disarm people who are inspired by them — and on that front, our nation has lagged woefully behind. We’ve failed to pass any significant federal gun-safety bill in the past 25 years; we’ve allowed armed extremists to brandish long guns at state capitols and intimidate peaceful protesters, and our background-check system remains riddled with gaps and loopholes.
. . .
I’m a reverend, so I promise that nobody appreciates your thoughts and prayers more than I do, but they are not enough unless they are paired with meaningful action. That action must come first and foremost from our leaders, beginning with the Biden-Harris administration, but in truth the responsibility to advocate for gun safety extends to all of us. Because if we do not come together around this issue now, in the weeks after our very democracy was held at gunpoint, then I fear that hate-motivated gun violence will not only continue but also accelerate.
There's more at the link.
For a start, of course, many of the greatest names in the movement to abolish slavery and restore civil rights for black Americans held diametrically opposite views. There's a rich tradition of using firearms for self-defense in the black community, as chronicled in Nicholas Johnson's book "Negroes And The Gun".
The blurb for the book reads:
Chronicling the underappreciated black tradition of bearing arms for self-defense, this book presents an array of examples reaching back to the pre-Civil War era that demonstrate a willingness of African American men and women to use firearms when necessary to defend their families and communities. From Frederick Douglass's advice to keep "a good revolver" handy as defense against slave catchers to the armed self-protection of Monroe, North Carolina, blacks against the KKK chronicled in Robert Williams's Negroes with Guns, it is clear that owning firearms was commonplace in the black community. Nicholas Johnson points out that this story has been submerged because it is hard to reconcile with the dominant narrative of nonviolence during the civil rights era. His book, however, resolves that tension by showing how the black tradition of arms maintained and demanded a critical distinction between private self-defense and political violence.Johnson also addresses the unavoidable issue of young black men with guns and the toll that gun violence takes on many in the inner city. He shows how complicated this issue is by highlighting the surprising diversity of views on gun ownership in the black community. In fact, recent Supreme Court affirmations of the right to bear arms resulted from cases led by black plaintiffs. Surprising and informative, this well-researched book strips away many stock assumptions of conventional wisdom on the issue of guns and the black freedom struggle.
Even before I'd heard of that book, I knew of famous comments on the subject by black leaders. For example:
Surveying the landscape in the summer of 1892, Ida B. Wells advised, that “the Winchester rifle deserved a place of honor in every Black home.” This was no empty rhetorical jab. She was advancing a considered personal security policy and specifically referencing two recent episodes where armed Blacks saved their neighbors from lynch mobs.
There are many similar examples in our history. Black leaders recognized that guns can be tools of freedom, as well as oppression. Do away with them for the latter reason, and you also destroy their role as guarantor of the former. Is that really a good idea? I think many throughout history would answer with a resounding "No!" To claim that there's a "deadly connection between white supremacy and guns" is to ignore the equally true fact that there's just as deadly a connection between black self-defense and guns - but I don't hear anyone complaining about the latter. On the contrary, I (and, I think, most of my readers) think it's praiseworthy.
However, the primary reason why the argument for gun control is nonsensical is that it ignores reality. It blames the instrument, not the person wielding it. Consider:
- Do we charge a motor vehicle with drunk driving, or the person behind the wheel?
- Do we charge a club with assault, or the person wielding it?
- Do we charge a gun with murder, or the person who pulled the trigger?
In every single case, it's the person using the instrument who was to blame, and who is held accountable under our legal system. It doesn't matter whether a murderer uses a gun, or a knife, or poison, or a bomb, or whatever. The crime is murder - not how it was committed, or what instrument was used to perpetrate it.
To blame the gun for "hate crimes", or murder, or whatever, is precisely the wrong approach. The instrument has no moral sense, no conscience. It's a tool, and can be used for good or evil purposes - but the user decides that, not the tool. A hammer can drive a nail, or beat someone's head in; but it remains just a hammer, blameless in either case.
Take the Bath school massacre of 1927, the worst mass murder in a school in US history. 44 people were killed, including 38 schoolchildren - but it didn't take a gun to do it. Dynamite did the job. A murderer can and will accomplish his evil end by any means necessary; explosives, arson, demolition, poison, or anything else. Take away his gun, and he'll find another way.
Gun control cannot and will not solve the problem of murder, and it cannot and will not solve the problem of white supremacist extremists. It's fundamentally misapplied logic to suggest that it will. Doing so suggests that the proponent(s) of that approach have no idea of reality.
Gun control will do nothing to solve the problem of human evil. Period.