Equal Opportunity Guns

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/64707145@N00/2547371884/" target="_blank"> f_mafra</a>

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I’ve never held, owned, or even seen a real gun in person, save for the time one was pointed at me and my mom during a drive-by robbery when I was about six years old. So when I saw copies of The Politically Corrected Glossary at the 25th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, I’ll admit I got nervous. Here’s an excerpt of the entry that did it:

Gun Bigot: A person who hates guns. Typically has little or no knowledge of guns, may never have even fired one, certainly doesn’t have any. Would gladly subject innocent people to defenselessness. An elitist.

It goes on, but here’s the kicker:

Striking similarity and disturbing parallels with the racial bigotry of the civil rights efforts since the 1960s.

What’s up with everyone from Glenn Beck to the anti-gun regulation fold trying to appropriate the Black Civil Rights movement for their ends? Alan Gottlieb, the head of the organization that built the conference, at one point said “if the gun rights movement is going to be successful it has to model itself after the Civil Rights movement.” Later at the conference, John Lott, the author of More Guns, Less Crime, argued that gun regulations are discriminatory because they prevent “poor black people” from being able to arm themselves.

An alarm automatically goes off in my head when I hear old white dudes arguing firearm regulations are “elitist” and leave poor black people defenseless, especially considering that black people are more likely than whites to be both the victims of gun violence and, sadly, the offenders (PDF). (Black people experience higher rates of overall violence than any other group). In effect, less gun regulations would lead to more black people shooting black people. So wouldn’t those who claim to have the welfare of black folks in mind actually want regulations to deter gun violence in this community? Also, besides me, only one other black person was spotted at this event which offered another source of skepticism at the advice offered. Where are the black pro-gun, anti-regulation advocates?

But reading The Politically Corrected Glossary did make me wonder: As a gun novice and one-time assault victim, do I have the right to critique gun owners, having never experienced firearms on a recreational level or for self-defense? After spending a total of 19 hours over one weekend with this crowd, some of whom have been shooting since age 14 or younger, I think I get it. Some are people who see shooting as a sport and want to have their guns. It’s the ones who want guns for self-defense I’m concerned with. You can read why here. Whether they see their gun as a hobby or a safety blanket, it doesn’t negate that guns should be heavily regulated—at least for the safety of the community at large, and definitely for the safety of the black community which many gun advocates voice so much concern for.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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