Like Everything Else in America, Gun Control is Really About White Supremacy

The Good Citizen 1926

In the span of just two weeks, we saw a young man gun down innocent black shoppers in Buffalo and then another young man do the same to innocent children in Texas. It is easy to draw the conclusion that the common thread in these shootings and every other mass shooting is easy access to high-powered assault rifles. This is true, and actual research shows limiting said access would virtually eliminate mass shootings.

What people often miss, however, is the real reason there is even a debate around this, the reason the NRA will not shut up about how "important" gun rights are and why the 2nd amendment even exists. Like everything else is America, the reason is white supremacy.

With the Buffalo shooting, the tie to white supremacy is obvious. The shooter himself was a white supremacist fueled into rage by the "great replacement theory," a white supremacist doctrine that has alarmingly high mainstream media support (mainly on Fox News). But when children are killed, should not even the hardliner white supremacist republicans take a second look at gun policies to see if they need tweaking? The answer is no, not because guns are so important for all Americans but because they are crucial to white supremacy.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper / Unsplash

The 2nd amendment was not born from the ideals of liberty and self defense but rather out of the fears of Black rebellion. The founding fathers were terrified that the slave rebellions in Haiti would influence similar rebellions in the young United States. This line of the 2nd amendment was the result of that fear:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The well regulated militias were never intended to be doomsday rebels in Montana who build bunkers and hate the government. They were intended to form should the need arise to "put down" any uppity slaves. And make no mistake, under no circumstances were Blacks to be included in any "right to keep and bear Arms."

"After Stono, you have the 1740 Negro Act. That Negro Act defined the African-descended people as slaves, absolute slaves, for those here and those not yet born. It defined what they could do and what they could not do. They could not be literate. They could not have access to guns, and they could not walk about freely. They had to be subjugated, controlled by whites."

Even a century after slavery when black people enjoyed a degree of freedom, the idea of black people literally doing exactly what the constitution says (i.e. forming a militia and keeping and bearing arms) caused both Republicans and Democrats to affectionately reach across the aisle and join hands in banning open carry. This happened in 1967 when the fear (there's that word again) of the Black Panther Party prompted the drafting of the Mulford Act in California signed by then Governor Ronald Reagan, yes that Ronald Reagan.

Black Panther Party

And when legal gun owner Philando Castile was executed in his car by a police officer while unarmed, the gun-defending NRA was oddly silent until they were finally pressured by black activist groups into speaking, and even then, the most they could muster up was that it was a "tragedy." When their spokesperson, Dana Loesch, finally did say more, her true white supremacist ideology began to bleed through. Castile died because he had marijuana, so that apparently justifies an execution, the same tired argument white supremacists (yes, I will keep calling them that) make every time an unarmed black man or woman is executed by a cop during a routine stop.

Furthermore, when Fox news proposed no less than 50 solutions to the Uvalde massacre and none of those solutions involved gun control, it was not simply because they love guns. Gun ownership and the right to use them at their own whims, even to execute unarmed black people, is a key cornerstone of their white supremacist creed. It is so intricately woven into the fabric of this society that it is bipartisan.

Yes, Democrats are vocal in their calls for gun control, but their actual steps to make it happen are paltry at best and complicit at worst. Midterms are upon us, and the Democrats are preoccupied with looking "tough of crime," a phrase that has long been a code for cracking down on and imprisoning black people. Despite Biden's rhetoric after George Floyd's murder arguing against systemic racism, he has been simultaneously sending more money to police, the complete opposite of what activists demanded. He even told states to divert Covid-19 stimulus funds to shower the police with more cash.

Why would the Democrats do this? Because ultimately they need white supremacist voters, and that includes the gun-toting, bunker-building Independent just as much as the police-calling Liberal "karen."  And when legislation actually does pass after tragedies like Columbine, what usually happens is arrests of black people carrying guns and arrests of black students by school police officers who are supposedly stationed there to protect them. When your system is literally built on racism, even laws meant to effect positive change almost always hurt the oppressed.

Until America is ready to have an honest conversation about white supremacy, America's gun fetish will continue and gun control will remain elusive. As long as those who call themselves allies of black people are still willing to hold hands and compromise with white supremacists "for the sake of unity" instead of holding them accountable, we will not see an end to this madness.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton

IT worker with a master's in Library and Information Science currently working in the healthcare industry. Passionate about Free and Open Source software.