by Marta Moretti
Gun Laws in the US: do they help protect African Americans or do they actually make them more vulnerable to racism and police brutality?
A vicious cycle, a black hole. Is the intersection of guns and race more obvious, or more dangerous?
Charles E Cobb Jr – a journalist, professor, and former activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – notes this by looking at how “the tradition of armed self-defense in Afro-American history cannot be disconnected from the successes of what today is called the nonviolent civil rights movement.”
Historically, black people’s access to guns was key to the success of the Black Freedom Movement – whose main target was the government itself. American history is a book also written with the blood of black families killed by white people who found themselves protected by a government believing in the supremacy of its white citizens.
Hence, constitutionally protected access to firearms: the best protection black people could look for. Even the National Rifle Association, the strongest and most aggressively vocal lobby in the US, is silent when black people are killed for legally possessing firearms, or toys.
From weapons ownership to healthcare: black people’s agency is still perceived as a threat, or as “other”.
This is why many black people feel the need to protect themselves from the government itself. We have also to remember that this is the same government refusing to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to even study the issue of gun violence.
The relationship between communities and their police force will never improve as long as the police will keep to see and treat the community as an “other”. A public disarmament could result in a de-escalation of the police force brutality cases.
- If we had fewer guns on the streets, could police afford to appear less like an occupying army working in a war zone?
- Could our police forces learn to de-escalate violence instead of appearing to foster it?