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When Guns Can't Protect POC From Police Brutality
Despite what pro-gun rhetoric would love to make you think, not even guns can protect POC from police brutality. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association maintained a deafening silence about the lives of black gun owners who lost their lives to police misconduct. How can #BlackLivesMatter to the NRA if they hesitate to support minority gun owners' rights, the modern civil rights movement, and police reform all at once?
Recently, Reverend Al Sharpton criticized the NRA for their lack of concern about the rights of black gun owners. At his Harlem headquarters, he made an effort to call out the NRA president, Wayne LaPierre, by name.
"Now I missed the NRA coming out and defending the gun rights they legally had. Where is the NRA? Where is Wayne LaPierre now?" Sharpton asked, directly challenging the organization and the individual in charge of running it. "Do you have a Second Amendment right or did you not get down, Mr. Pierre, to the 14th, 15th and 16th amendments? Maybe you mean the Second Amendment is for whites only."
Apparently, the NRA was at a loss for words until 2 days after the death of Philando Castile. Then this statement appeared on the group's official Facebook page:
“As the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization, the NRA proudly supports the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms for defense of themselves and others regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. The reports from Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated.”
The NRA would've remained silent if not for being nudged by The Wrap. No mention of racism. No mentions of obvious police brutality. Just ass-covering all the way while not standing up for the rights of minorities, gun owners, or anyone else who finds themselves at odds with law enforcement.
Castile was undoubtedly one of the "law-abiding Americans" this organization was supposed to support. Police brutality was his cause of death. Then he posed a rhetorical question we' ve known the answer to all along: "Maybe you mean the Second Amendment is for whites only." Any police apologists who claim that Castile and Sterling weren't falsely incriminated fail to take into account that the death penalty is something the United States serves to tried and true criminals, not innocent people. Sterling's death was caught on camera when police discovered his gun. Louisiana's gun laws protect Sterling's gun possession. His criminal history prevented him from owning a gun in the first place. But according to CNN, "there's no evidence that officers who responded to the convenience store were aware of [Sterling's] criminal history." Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Castile after he outright warned the cop that he had a firearm. Castile was not wanted for armed robbery. Minnesota's gun laws protected his right to carry a concealed fire arm. Law enforcement officers should've known about the gun laws long before they killed someone over it.
Al Sharpton mentions the obvious fact that "both of them were killed by police based on 'they had a gun.'" Recordings confirm that Philando Castile was falsely incriminated based on his "wide-set nose."
Based on these officers' suspicions alone, their abusive actions rendered their victims guilty until proven innocent. Sure, the NRA might love it when us minorities hop on board and arm ourselves. But like most bigoted people, they're willing to put their prejudices aside in order to make a good impression. They will not, however, do the same for an individual whom such an organization should've been quick to defend. If the NRA wants racial and sexual minorities to take them seriously as allies, they better start speaking out against police overreach. Black people are three more times likely to be arrested by officers than members of any other racial group. America needs to stop doing mental gymnastics to justify our lack of gun control as well as the country's longstanding lack of accountability for police brutality.
Gun supporters emphasize that guns are effective safety tools. Even guns can't protect POC or anyone else from police overreach, nor can we invest our faith in their abilities to defend us outside of dire situations. A black person is far more likely to lose their lives in encounters with law enforcement. Self-identified radicals like myself support The Second Amendment because arms can minimize our direct encounters with police encounters. After all, if someone breaks into your house, a gun will probably scare them away. But I personally know people who've called the cops after chasing off violence-threatening burglars with guns, only to be harassed and blamed for exercising their Second Amendment right once the police arrived. I also know people who've survived law enforcement encounters when they resisted arrest after getting busted with sizable stocks of illegal firearms. Spoiler: The people who got away with it were white. Until we face our problems surrounding racial profiling, gun control, and police brutality, violence will continue to plague the United States.
Based on my personal experiences, the bulk of the most ardent, rabid, and mouth-foaming gun rights supporters I know hardly speak about how racial and sexual minorities can benefit from guns. Any and all good in law enforcement relies on the collective responsibility to reform the police system. The lack of punishments faced by bad cops only contributes to the perpetuation of police brutality. In the end, your gun can only save you time in instances of police overreach. I If you've read anything about my history with guns, you'll know that my relationship with gun rights is very conflicted. I grew up with a pro-gun bias that made always made guns seem like a safe option. I grew up surrounded by gun culture participants from all ends of the political spectrum. But now, I finally get it: No matter how much guns can help you out of dangerous situations, these rules of self defense do not apply to police overreach situations in clear-cut ways. I used to scoff when anti-gun advocates would insist that the state was this insurmountable force that enough guns couldn't fight off. The institutional power invested in the police makes any struggle you have with them stacked against your favor. While most people agree that killing law enforcement is bad, we must remember that police officers have the authority to justify killing people. Such power carries great responsibility. Cops can and do get away with roughing people up. All. The. Time. Corrupt cops work alongside cops who make positive differences in their communities. Furthermore, they abuse the public's trust in law enforcement as well as the often well-intentioned but dangerously biased assumption that all officers are conducting themselves properly. Any failure to keep police violence in check is an insult to our nation and the people who need protection the most.
Do I see how a gun can save your life in certain situations? Yes. But now, I'm realizing that anti-gun arguments were right: You can't truly win in any physical altercation against the state. The names of these victims wouldn't have made it to hashtag status if not for technology capturing an epidemic that thrives in silence.
#Real #BlackLivesMatter #PhilandoCastile #AlstonSterling #NationalRacistAssociation #PoliceApologism
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