The White American terrorist who ambushed thousands of Las Vegas concertgoers in a deadly hail of bullets on Sunday night bought nearly three dozen guns over the past year. While that may seem excessive to some, Stephen Paddock was merely representative of the legal gun ownership demographic in the U.S., which is dominated by White people – especially White men, who have committed exponentially more mass murders than any other group in America.
About 36 percent of White Americans said they had at least one gun, according to a Pew Research Center report on U.S. gun ownership that was published in June. When looking at just White men, that number ballooned to 48 percent, or nearly half of the country’s White male population.
In contrast, about 24 percent of Black Americans said they owned a gun.
However, that number may be growing, according to a trend that was attributed to the election of Donald Trump and the subsequent unabashed amplification of racist White national rhetoric and related violence.
“Interviews with firearms dealers and gun clubs across the country strongly suggest a sharp rise in the number of African-Americans buying guns since Trump’s election,” NBC News reported in May. “Many are walking into gun shops to arm themselves out of fear that his election has rekindled old racial flames, emboldening white supremacists and stoking tension between the races.”
Politics and patriotism are reportedly the two major reasons for the race-based gun ownership discrepancy. Most Republicans think that owning a gun is a sign of patriotism, according to Fox News.
“Because this [gun] culture is embraced by the race and party that controls the government, it continues to be celebrated and defended in the spirit of love of country,” CNN wrote in an informed opinion piece published Wednesday.
As history has repeatedly shown, Black people in America are routinely subjected to a different set of laws ands law enforcement than their White counterparts, especially when it comes to guns, legally owned or otherwise.
That fact was on full display when Philando Castile, a Black motorist, was shot and killed in Minnesota last year after he informed a police officer that he had a licensed gun in his car. But by just following the law, which required Castile to alert officers of the gun, he also became a victim the law when the police officer who killed him was acquitted of murder charges this past July.