It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Black gun ownership in America is on the rise.
MORE: Black People And Legal Gun Ownership: Oppression At Its Best
But as more Black people exercise their right to bear arms, some believe it could be the catalyst for more deadly police shootings.
When Payton Grendon went on a racist rampage, killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, it was hard not to watch the aftermath and think, “that could have been my community.”
Being Black in America can be dangerous and many times the feeling of ‘needing a gun’ seems justified. This constant feeling of fear has led to an increase in gun sales among Black men and women.
In 2020 after George Floyd was murdered by police, sparking nationwide protests, Black people rushed to the stores to buy guns. According to the Firearm Industry Trade Association, in the first quarter of 2021, 90 percent of gun retailers reported a general increase of Black customers, including an 87 percent increase among Black women.
As the U.S. continues to shift towards a more conservative way of life, guns will become more readily available.
In June, the Supreme Court voted in a 6-3 decision to strike down a New York state law that restricted the carrying of handguns in public.
Black gun rights activists say they will use the decision to help reshape the gun debate in the Black community. Before the ruling, the National African American Gun Association wrote a brief to the Supreme Court opposing the N.Y. law. In the brief NAAGA said, “Such laws often included arbitrary prohibitions on the carrying of firearms with parallels to New York’s current law. Such laws invariably discriminate against the poor and minorities.”
But critics of the decision say Black gun owners have never been treated equally when it pertains to gun laws. When Philando Castile was murdered by police in Minnesota he had a permit for his firearm. Before he died, Castile told officers he had a firearm and was licensed to carry it. But this only perpetuated the officer’s fears and as Castile reached for his wallet, the officer fired seven close-range shots at him, hitting him five times. Castile repeatedly told the officer he was not reaching for his gun, but that didn’t matter. That officer clearly had a fear of Black men that was intensified by Castile’s legal right to bear arms.
But he’s not the only cop in America with a fear of Black men, it’s hard not to believe most of them do.
Police suspected Jayland Walker of firing a single shot out the window of his car while driving down the road. They then shot at him 90 times, hitting him with 60 bullets as he ran away from them.
John B. King, a former Obama Education official, told Bloomberg Law he believes if more Black folks get guns, cops could become even more terrified of us.
“I think we’re sadly going to see more incidents like that, with police fearing that anyone they encounter will have a gun,” he said.
Kevin Cokley, a contributing author for USA Today, explains the fear perfectly.
“One of the most important lessons of the training is understanding the difference between fear and danger. Experiencing fear does not always mean that a situation is dangerous. Police violence against Black people will never end as long as police continue to fear Black men.”
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