Monday, February 04, 2013

Gun regulations and white racism

Ernest Dumas thinks that the key role white racism plays in the gun debate makes the chances for far-reaching gun regulations like those in Sen. Diane Feinstein's proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 unlikely during President Obama's second term in office. He argues in The truth about guns Arkansas Times 01/30/2013:

Americans engaged in heated debates over guns periodically from 1690 until today, and race was nearly always a provocation and usually the main one. ...

... it will be a rare Southerner or Westerner, aside from the Pacific coast, who will vote for a gun bill that is associated with Barack Obama. And people will associate any gun bill with Obama. ...

Before the Civil War, runaway slaves or revolts were never a big problem here in the natural state [Arkansas], but the territorial legislature in 1824 passed a law requiring every township to keep a militia of up to 11 armed white men to capture and punish fleeing or obstreperous Negroes. There were worries and rumors about blacks getting guns and revolting before and long after the Civil War.

Sure enough, in 1967 the Black Panthers began parading around the public squares in California with guns, alarming the new governor, Ronald Reagan, who became a gun-control advocate. Bobby Seale, Huey Newton and some 30 other Panthers took loaded weapons to the Capitol in Sacramento to protest an attempt to outlaw carrying loaded weapons in public and got themselves arrested. The modern gun-control movement was under way. The National Rifle Association wanted stiff gun regulation and led the way in enacting the first major gun law, the Gun Control Act of 1968. A coup led by the arms industry changed the NRA's direction 180 degrees.

Guns were no longer important for hunting but to keep patriots armed so that they could fight a U. S. government led by a tyrant, like you know who. That requires some big weapons and giant ammo caches. After all, the black guy has tanks and the nuclear bomb. That is the mindset that sets public policy in 2013. [my emphasis]
I hope Dumas turns out to have been overly pessimistic about the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. But he is making an important and valid point about the Republican opposition to it, and making it in a way that Republicans will not like seeing.

However, the gun proliferation advocates make a perverse application of this argument themselves, contending that "gun control" was aimed at blacks in previous years. Which is true enough to be perverse. But the element of white racism, historically and today, is far more important in the opposition to regulation of assault weapons.

I don't know if it's been polled in any meaningful way. But I'm guessing that if the people arguing that unrestricted access to assault weapons is necessary to protect against tyranny were systematically questioned, it would be pretty obvious that what a lot of them really mean is not the literal sense - which would be using their guns to kill cops, soldiers and public officials in an armed insurrection - but rather that they are white people who think they need such weapons to possibly shoot some scary black people.

And Dumas is making some similar assumption about gun proliferation advocates in his column.

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