TThe Buffalo area of upstate New York continues to mourn the massacre at its local grocery store that killed 10 people. It was racially motivated.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden traveled to the city and condemned the incident as “violence inflicted in the service of hate.” He also labeled it an act of “domestic terrorism”.
“Jill and I bring you this message from deep in our nation’s soul. America is the place where evil cannot win. I promise you. Hate cannot prevail. And white supremacy will not have the last word,” Biden said on Tuesday.
The Buffalo shooting and other domestic white supremacist terrorist attacks on the country’s minority population–growing concerns for federal authorities–illustrate the difficulties of working toward racial reckoning in a firearm heavy nation.
Continue reading: Buffalo Shooter Is Targeting a Secluded City
The burden of America’s long love affair with guns disproportionately affects the Black community and has done so since the Second Amendment was written into law. Carol Anderson is Emory University’s African American Studies professor and the author The second: Guns and Race in an America that is Fatally UnevenThis book explores the history of The Second Amendment, and how it has left the Black population powerless and more at risk for gun violence at the hands, particularly white supremacists.
Anderson talked with TIME about how the Buffalo shooting fits in to the larger debate around the Second Amendment as well as the targeting Black civilians.
Your book examines the historical negative impacts of the Second Amendment on Black people. What does the recent massacre in Buffalo have to do with that idea?
Because of how black people are defined, it fits. [The shooter] believes in the replacement theory, the one that’s been spewed by Tucker Carlson and by Elise Stefanik about the ways that black people are a threat to the white community, that they’re going to take over, that black people are dangerous, and that they have to be removed, they have to be compelled to leave. It was this belief that blacks are a threat that poses ill will on whites and especially slaveholding whites that led to the Second Amendment.
[The founding fathers]The constitution included an amendment that allowed for the establishment of a militia. The militia’s purpose was to control the slave population and put down revolts. That’s what they were afraid of. They felt defenseless if they didn’t have the militia and their guns.
When you hear the killer in Buffalo, talking about “they’re trying to take over and we’ve got to create terror that will [make them] want to leave”, that’s rooted in America’s history. The slaveholders didn’t want Black folks to leave because they needed somebody to do the work. Their goal was to have a controlled Black population that is compliant and docile.
What’s the correlation between white supremacy and gun rights in America today?
These two go together as love and marriage. This was evident also in January’s insurrection. Here, you could see black voters voting despite the pandemic. They knew democracy was in danger. Because they didn’t vote for white supremacists, but voted out the supremacist. This is the result of Trump’s and his company identifying the source of the threat, as well as the stealers.
Over 900 messages were sent to poll workers. The Second Amendment was so often invoked by the workers to remove those who had stolen the election.
One of the things I laid out in the book is that in this period that we’re in right now, the standard-bearers that we see as being the right to Second Amendment citizenship, stand your ground and open carry. When that is applied to Black folks they don’t have those rights. White people will be 10 times more likely than Blacks to get a justifiable murder ruling if they are unable to stand their ground.
We’ve seen these kinds of mass shootings happening in the recent past where a minority group is targeted. Why can’t we find a way to address this problem?
It’s the power anti-blackness has, it is the power to fear Black people. Because of the fear that black people have, we as a society are ready to risk our safety and security at our church, our grocery store, our workplaces, or wherever we work in order to obtain guns. We are not safer because we have 400 million guns. However, it has not made us safer.
[The country]Is afraid of black people
Continue reading: ‘There’s No Such Thing As a Lone Wolf.’ The Online Movement That Spawned the Buffalo Shooting
He made it clear in Buffalo that he was a shooter and did not hesitate to share his intentions. How come he wasn’t seen as a threat beforehand?
One of the reasons for the perversion in anti-blackness lies in the society’s incapacity to recognize a real threat.
[Think of]Kyle Rittenhouse, his AR-15 and [was met] by the cops who were like “oh, we are so glad you are here.” Even after he guns down three people killing two of them. The cops are right there to help him. They don’t see a threat. Due to threats made by him in high school, the Buffalo Killer popped up. They investigate it and nothing came of it because he wasn’t viewed as a threat.
When you look at gun ownership today and see that a large percentage of legal ownership is white but there’s been an increase in Black gun ownership over the past year or so, what do you think is driving that increase?
Trump’s years and reality that Black people are basically on their own is part of the reason it happened. No one was going to save them. They would have to defend their own safety, much in the same manner as after the Civil War. This was the same thing that happened with Jim Crow. Black people were arming themselves because law enforcement could not protect them.
Gun violence is driven by illegal guns that find their ways into Black communities. How does this speak to the weaknesses of the Second Amendment
Because there is a floodgate of weapons that go into those communities, you have the communities trying to put a stop to the homicides that are happening but the other things that need to be done aren’t being done. It is not possible to provide quality education, support services and social structure. These have all been destroyed. These communities have lost employment opportunities. These communities have tried to restrict gun ownership. It’s one thing to get into an argument, it’s another thing to get into an argument with a gun.
What’s the middle ground between someone’s right to own a weapon and protecting the Black population from attacks like this?
Some states, like Texas and Georgia, are loosening gun regulation laws regarding background checks and training. In the United States, there are far more guns than Americans. Buffalo’s killer was wearing body armor and a semi-automatic gun. AR-15s aren’t good for anything but hunting people. It is absurd that civilians have such regular access to this weaponry.
If so-called gun rights advocates give an inch on these automatic and semi-automatic weapons then the belief is that they’ll be coming to take all of your guns. That poisonous rhetoric is why we don’t see movement on sane gun safety laws.
The interview was edited to be more concise and clear.
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