“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
“An armed society is a polite society.”
How’s that working out, my dear America?
Black Lives Matter
Let me start at the beginning. Well, the beginning is in 1600, but this little blog entry ain’t got time for that. Let’s start at the hazy beginning of the latest series of shootings.
July 5, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two White police officers tackled 37-year-old Black man Alton Sterling to the ground, tasered him, and fatally shot him. Multiple bystanders recorded the shooting. A firearm was recovered from Sterling’s pocket.
July 6, Falcon Heights, Minnesota. A police officer pulled over 32-year-old Black man Philando Castile. His girlfriend Diamond Reynolds was in the passenger seat. Her 4-year-old daughter was in the back seat. According to reports, officer Jeronimo Yanez asked Castile for his license and registration. He told him it was in his wallet, that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and had one in the car. The officer told Castile not to move. As he was putting his hands back up (presumably from going for his wallet), the officer shot him. The immediate aftermath was live-streamed by Reynolds on Facebook. Castile died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Commentary about whether Sterling or Castile were criminals or good guys is irrelevant. Their lives mattered and they did not deserve to be killed.
July 7, Dallas, Texas. Protests were held all over the United States. Around 800 people turned up for the one in Dallas. 100 police officers protected the event. The Dallas Police Department live-tweeted the peaceful event. It is a reminder that being pro-Black Lives Matter is not being anti-cop and you can be pro-police without being anti-Black.
And then Micah Johnson opened fire. He killed five police officers and injured nine people – seven officers and two civilians. The names of officers killed are Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa. After a long standoff, a police robot detonated a bomb near Johnson and he was killed.
The NRA expressed “deep anguish” for the Dallas officers. What did they express for Philando Castile? For Alton Sterling? “No comment.”
Criminality. Tyranny. Who gets to define them?
For years, the NRA has embraced and pushed insurrectionist rhetoric: civilians should have guns to use against the American government, police, and military.
Micah Johnson was an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran who allegedly wanted to kill White people. As a Black man, he belonged to a class of people that are often subject to cruel, unreasonable, and arbitrary uses of power and control. So, he took up arms against his state. Johnson was exercising his Second Amendment right. The NRA should be proud. Johnson did what the NRA has been telling us to do.
The NRA doesn’t care about the Second Amendment and it doesn’t care about cops. Founded in 1871 to advance rifle marksmanship, its purpose today is to protect the gun industry’s ability to manufacture and sell weapons. It stands for gun-makers, not gun owners. In 2013, Business Insider reported that less than half of the NRA’s revenues come from program fees and membership dues.
“Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.”
I bet the NRA is pleased that gun stocks surged after the Dallas shooting.
I am sad and angry at so much loss of life. I am afraid for everyone in the US, especially my Black friends. And I am so tired of the excuses and the lies.
100 armed and trained police officers were not enough to prevent the deaths of five officers, the injuries of nine other people, and the trauma of hundreds more. The Insurrectionist claim that private ownership of firearms improves public safety is a lie. This is a myth to help line the pockets of gun manufacturers who profit from paranoia.
Johnson was military trained. Police said in a press release that he had “bomb making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics”. He was still no match for the SWAT team and its bomb disposal robot. The Insurrectionist idea that Americans can defend themselves against its government is deluded.
The new normal
190 days of 2016 have passed. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been mass shootings on 179 days. Then there is the gun violence we don’t hear about – the suicides, the accidental shootings, the murders. Every day, 297 people in America are shot. In her statement on the Dallas shooting, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch asked Americans “not to allow the events of this week to precipitate a ‘new normal’ in our country”. But it already is normal.
Yes, we have a problem with racism. Yes, we have a problem with police. We also need to acknowledge we have a problem with the rhetoric around weapons. Insurrectionists say we’re heading towards tyranny. They are flirting with treason and leading us into anarchy.