This is a follow-up to a post from a few days ago, New York public defenders cause hell to freeze over.
In its coming term, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to New York’s restrictive concealed carry laws, which effectively ban most civilians from carrying a concealed weapon in public. Many conservative organizations and Republican politicians have filed amicus briefs urging the justices to strike down New York’s stringent regime as a violation of the Second Amendment. Not everyone opposed to the state’s gun laws, however, are on the right. An amicus brief filed by a coalition of traditionally progressive public defender and legal aid groups—including Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid—asked the Supreme Court to legalize concealed carry as a matter of racial justice. Citing police abuse of Black and Hispanic individuals who possess firearms, these groups wrote that New York law enforcement seeks to “criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities,” adding: “The consequences for our clients are brutal.”
I covered this, and I agree with the Defender’s Unions. A corrupt, may issue, permit system that denies people who are not wealthy and well-connected gun rights is absolutely racist and used by the NYPD to brutalize people.
Many conservatives eagerly welcomed their new bedfellows, while the reaction on the left was mixed. Writing in the Nation, Elie Mystal acknowledged the disparate impact of gun restrictions on Black Americans but pointed to studies showing that more permissive gun laws are “going to get more people, specifically Black people, killed.”
Except that one line from one of the studies mentioned blows their whole argument out of the water.
The major implication of this finding is that criminal justice practitioners should prioritize strict permitting laws and laws to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of a violent crime over banning select types of weapons.
Slate is conflating criminals with guns and law-abiding people with permits with guns.
This challenge is to New York’s permitting process, effectively wanting it to be shall issue. Every person, black, white, and otherwise, who would get a permit and a gun if the Supreme Courts strikes down the New York law would pass a background check. So only law-abiding citizens would have more access to guns.
The only threat to black people in this decision would be to black criminals who attack lawful CCW permit holders.
To better understand the impulses behind the brief, as well as the historical intersection of racism and gun control, I spoke to Carol Anderson, a renowned scholar and professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Anderson’s most recent book, The Second, argues that the Second Amendment was motivated by white fear of Black Americans. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
This is bullshit. This is a Critical Race Theory view of the Second Amendment.
My wife got me the book This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible. Racists and the Klan were all about disarming blacks. Gun rights protected them. The Second Amendment belongs to black people just as much as any other citizen.
The application of the law toward Black people is so disparate. That’s what you saw with stop and frisk, where the bulk of the folks who were stopped and frisked were Black and brown. Your Blackness automatically makes you inherently criminal. That language comes out of the 1740 Negro Act in South Carolina. This is built into American society, and it’s what has to be dismantled. When you are seeing this disparate policing, you are seeing anti-Blackness.
That is what they are laying out in that first part of that brief: the anti-Blackness that courses through policing that criminalizes Black folk for doing what white folk do. So what they’re asking is to stop the criminalization of that activity. But that leads to greater access to guns. And greater access to guns has not made Black folks secure. It is the Gordian knot, the conundrum that says: You’re either going to be criminalized by the NYPD or you’re going to face the vulnerability of knowing that there are so many people walking around you with guns that the least little thing can get you shot. Road rage. Bumping into somebody wrong on the subway. We know that folks are raw right now. More guns doesn’t make us safer.
This anti-Blackness in American society has provided Black people with a Hobson’s choice. If you bear arms, you run up against the policing that criminalizes you and sees you as an automatic threat. You run up against individuals who define you as an automatic threat and believe that they have the right to gun you down. This is what we see with “stand your ground” laws. When whites kill Blacks under “stand your ground,” they’re ten times more likely to walk than when Blacks kill whites.
Isn’t it convenient that a grievance monger has figured out how to make both gun rights and gun restrictions racist?
I agree that the severe restrictions are racist.
There are law-abiding black citizens of New York who live in crime-filled areas and want guns to defend themselves. Not granting them permits is racist against them and gets them killed.
The second half of his thesis is the old “there will be blood in the streets” argument against concealed carry that they always pull out and never materializes.
White people with permits will not gun down innocent black people with their newly expanded gun rights. We didn’t see that in any city or state, including Chicago, where CCW rights increased.
The only people at risk are criminals, and I fundamentally do not care about the lives of criminals. I want to grant law-abiding citizens of all races the right to defend themselves and the right to carry a weapon to do so. The duty is to protect innocent life.
But this sort of mental gymnastics allows them to be critical of everything and accuse everything of being racist without proposing a solution to the problem of a corrupt gun permitting system, and rising crime amid absent police.
Going to shall issue fixes both of those problems, and if some gang member gets shot for his troubles while committing a violent crime, I don’t give a fuck, as long as an innocent person goes home alive, instead of vice versa.
This is what we saw in Chicago and this is what we will see in New York.
But the grifters have to grift.