NPR reports that modern gun-control laws were first legislated as action against African-Americans. Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR’s Code Switch team found many African-Americans believe owning guns is crucial to protecting themselves and their rights.
In 1968, The Black Panthers marched on the California statehouse with loaded weapons: “Shocked lawmakers made carrying loaded firearms illegal. And in 1968, after several urban riots, the Federal Gun Control Act was passed, which attempted to ban the sale of cheap handguns. What that did, said Robert Cottrol, a law professor at George Washington University, is to leave black residents in high-crime areas vulnerable.” Notice that the powerful made the people powerless. Injustice comes in many forms.
People do not purchase weapons based on fear. It is those who fear gun ownership who call for gun control. The call for “responsible gun ownership” is simply twisting words of those who want to declare an “enemy” of gun owners.
I submit that gun ownership is nothing more than an act of love. Let me explain.
It demonstrates love of law. America is a nation of laws. Laws protect the responsible purchase and possession of firearms by peaceful, law-abiding citizens. David Clarke, the sheriff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has said simply “Take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm.”
Love of freedom. We are citizens in a nation of freedoms. Watch the commercial celebrating the freedom of a person to defend herself. What happens when someone is told to obey the law but has little protection against those who would break it? Freedom to act must go hand-in-hand with a demand for responsibility.
Love of life. If women give birth, give life, shouldn’t we care whether they can protect themselves and others? Dana Loesch gives a compelling one-minute commercial telling why moms “are freedom’s safest place.” Body guards with weapons on their person protect the lives of major politicians. Why shouldn’t the woman getting off the bus after a second-shift job in downtown Chicago have the same protection?
Love of place. “No Americans should have to face evil with empty hands” says Coloin Noir. Life is sacred. Property is to be protected. A person has a right to her place, to feel safe, to be at rest. We all love our homes, where we live. We care for property not because it is an idol but because we are its steward.
Gun ownership demonstrates love of family. David Mamet, in praising the president for making a law that gives his family lifetime protection, said “The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so.” The screenwriter and filmmaker’s point? If the president gets to protect his family, we should be able to protect ours, too. Love of family is another reason for gun ownership.
I would like my readers to hear a voice similar to those with whom I began. My African-American brother Pastor Eric Jewell Hayes Sr. maintains,
While gun ownership can be an expression of love for the culture at large, for Blacks it is also an expression of identity. It becomes a way for African-Americans to assert that they too are Americans; that they should enjoy the same privileges of other ethnicities without impediment. In a very real way, gun ownership for Blacks is saying, I’m an American, let me be an American too.
I stand with Pastor Hayes, with the voices in the NPR report, and for all those who love life, their place, their family, and their freedom. Gun ownership is an act of love.
Some will celebrate this essay, and others will be outraged. To the folks in the second group, the first group will always be willing to defend your right to your opinion.
This article is reprinted from the author’s blog, with permission.