Reaction to NYT “Minority Gun Owners” Article

Scrolling the Twittersphere, I came across this article by Tanzina Vega, a short collection of African American commentary regarding Black gun ownership and perceptions of said ownership. I take issue with several things presented in it. Kenn Blanchard, Black NRA member and author, said this about the lack of African Americans at an NRA convention:

I’m not sure Mr. Blanchard realizes it, but he fails to continue with WHY those concerns are VALID. It transcends fear and encompasses entire groups and movements that historically and currently purposely work to keep minority numbers low, and to ensure only those minorities who reflect middle-class whiteness. It most definitely is not because the NRA wants to see large numbers of Black gun ownership. We must be forgetting the NRA pushed for gun control legislation when African Americans began taking up arms. The NRA is a group whose whims bend an toss about based on self-preservation of the status quo of gun power in White hands.

The article cites self-report surveys indicating lower rates of Black gun ownership, as compared to their White counterparts, making no mention of why those numbers are the case. Blanchard isn’t the only person in the article hawking Black fear of White groups, without stating the reason for said fears. Chuck Gueno, Jr. had this to say:

My statement to Gueno is: There is a good old boys network thriving and alive in this country, and most people know it. It’s seen in the operation of the criminal justice system and the political process. The NRA plays the game well, and everyone knows that, too. Gueno might want to remember that the stigma he speaks of was perfectly honed within the NRA itself. Did it not occur to either of these men that many African Americans have no interest in the NRA, simply because we don’t feel the NRA has people’s best interests at heart? That all we see is lobbying for self-interest and self-preservation, as opposed to any genuine care about the interests of gun-owning, non-White communities? Instead of addressing gun violence in minority neighborhoods (as cited in the article), the NRA would argue this is why more guns are needed, just like it does with mass school shootings (a predominately White male phenomenon). The NRA responds by saying, “More guns!” as if guns are a panacea, but does minimal public work to address the issues that come with gun-prolific society.

Vega continues the article by citing the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases contributing to the “alienation” of minorities. And what about the hundreds of thousands of other cases African Americans know about that do not make the national news and lead to big trials? The Christopher Beattys of the world who can’t sip an Arizona iced tea without being suspect? This article fails to mention the real and valid reasons African Americans stay far away from White people with guns: No matter the circumstances, we are usually the ones demonized and criminalized, even when we are not at fault or have done nothing wrong. Stop and Frisk, profiling, shopping and/or driving while Black: All things Vega and this article fail to mention. African Americans live in a country where even our wealthy and famous cannot go shopping without being thieves, fraudsters, and shoplifters, subsequently being confronted by more people with guns (Spare me the lie that shoppers aren’t profiled. I lectured in criminal justice, law, and security, and I know this happens.).

Vega goes on to quote Chad Ross, who had this to say about the Trayvon Martin case, in relation to the NRA:

Ross makes an astute observation, but what this article fails to really grasp in relation to its topic is: This is NO “bad taste.” This is the uproar that African Americans are tired of being profiled, assumed to be up to no good, and that stereotype leading to our deaths at the hands of “NRA types” in Ross’ quote, not to mention law enforcement.

Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. had this to say:

Guns played a role in “free the slaves.” Well, yes, Mr. Clarke, guns tend to play a large role in wars. I am not sure what he means by “letting them figure it out for themselves,” but I’d like to ask where this “propaganda” is coming from and what that propaganda is. This statement says Black people aren’t educated enough to find out their own facts regarding the NRA, gun ownership, and the Second Amendment. If you ask me, the propaganda can be seen in statements like Ross.’

Ainsley A. Reynolds provides us with the stereotype of African Americans as gang members with guns:

Yes, Reynolds, we know this stereotype. As I’ve already mentioned, this stereotype is why we are profiled and killed. Thank you for pointing that out, as if it needed to be said, again. What is the NRA doing about it, if they really want to see increases in minority NRA members? That is the question.

This brings us to Alexander McLucas, who thinks the NRA needs to be made aware of the “good” Black people who use guns properly:

McLucas must live on Mars if he thinks the NRA does not already know that law abiding gun owners come in all races and socioeconomic classes, just as gun owning criminals do. McLucas wouldn’t need this middle ground he proposes, if the NRA did not play into the stereotypes of Black men to begin with. The stereotypes increase gun sales, so the NRA has no vested interest in eradicating them. Token efforts at inclusion… talk about propaganda.

Which brings me to Carl Rowan, Jr. My only response to your comment is that we don’t expect pandering. We expect the NRA to do what it’s always done: look out for itself and its interests, and that is the real problem African Americans generally have with the NRA. African Americans simply feel the NRA does more to hurt them than to help them, and that is not our fault.

Does it escape anyone else that this article fails to tell African Americans why they SHOULD join the NRA?

(NOTE: For brevity’s sake, I did not include excerpts from all people cited in this article. I am not a “blogger,” and rarely devote this kind of time and space to reaction pieces. I am not anti-gun and most recently worked in the criminal justice field.)

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