So for most of the nation’s history, abridging the Second Amendment was understood to encroach on the rights of blacks in particular to defend themselves and their property when they could not count on the police to do so. But today, many of the traditional spokesmen for Civil Rights have sided with those who want to disarm law-abiding blacks. Former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume recently defended stricter gun laws, saying:
“Easily available handguns are being used to turn many of our communities into war zones. The fact that the illegal trafficking of firearms disproportionately affects minority communities in this country is indisputable. Urban communities have sadly become so accustomed to the prevalence of firearms in their neighborhoods that they are no longer shocked at the sound of gunfire.”
Unfortunately, stricter gun laws by definition will not affect the “illegal trafficking of firearms.” Right now, there are between 250 and 300 million privately owned guns in the United States. There is no credible plan to locate and collect these weapons. (Countries like Japan with very low rates of gun violence also have very few firearms within their national borders.) So any further restrictions will only keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
Last Sunday, the Washington Post had a cover story stating that a huge number of African Americans have been murdered by other peoples’ guns versus a lower, but significant number of whites who took their own lives with guns they owned themselves. It is obvious that America has lost its emotional and spiritual equilibrium with the appropriate use of violence and guns. It is also obvious that if any group needed to consider arming themselves, it would African Americans because of the disproportionate number of murders in their community. Ironically, many of our clergy are recommending that guns be turned in instead of increased policing or increased mental health evaluations of homeless folk and unstable veterans in our community.
It seems to me that the “emperor” has fooled around and taken off his clothes again and nobody but his children are pointing out that fact. I am anxious to see whether the NRA will come up with recommendations that will help curb the violence that exists in schools within our urban communities. Their proposal is due in four more days. The question is: will their proposal advocate for the black family safety?
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.