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Guns and Demography

Discussion in 'Legal' started by 2dogs, Nov 4, 2003.

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  1. 2dogs

    2dogs Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    the city

    Guns and Demography
    by Richard Poe

    Imagine how the civil rights establishment would react if Chuck Schumer and Sarah Brady proposed a law denying black people the right to keep and bear arms, but granting that same right to white people. Al Sharpton and Kweisi Mfume would cry, "Betrayal!" Yet many black leaders today support an anti-gun agenda that is fast driving America in the direction of race-based gun licensing.

    Here’s how it works.

    Anti-gun activists have succeeded in turning the gun debate into an esoteric exercise in statistical number crunching, comprehensible only to highly trained academics. Anti-gun experts argue that guns increase violence. Pro-gun experts argue that guns in the hands of honest citizens reduce violence. We the People look on dumbly, mystified by the charts, graphs, tables and diagrams wielded by each side.

    The Framers of the Constitution never intended that basic rights should be subject to this sort of academic debate. They knew that once the debate started, it would never end. One excuse after another would be found to chip away at our rights, until none were left.

    That process has already begun. And, as the anti-gun movement progresses, the rights of racial minorities will clearly be the first to go. The reason is simple. If statistical number-crunching is to be our guide in rationing out basic liberties, there is no question that crime statistics unambiguously demand the disarming of black America.

    Race and Violence

    In the white suburbs of Syracuse, New York where I grew up, many families owned firearms for hunting and self-defense. Guns were plentiful in our community, but gun violence was completely unknown.

    Later, I moved to New York City and took up residence in Alphabet City, a largely Hispanic neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, notorious for drug trafficking. There I encountered a level of violence that I had never before witnessed.

    On one occasion, I was nearly stabbed in the stairwell of my apartment building, when I walked inadvertently into the middle of a knife fight between two drug dealers. On another occasion, my wife and I had to take cover in a doorway when a gun fight broke out between drug dealers in front of our building.

    According to U.S. Justice Department figures from 1992, white Americans commit murder at a rate of 5.1 per 100,000. For black Americans, the rate is 43.4 per 100,000 – eight times that of whites. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports show that blacks, who make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, commit some 42 percent of all violent crimes, according to 1995–1996 data.

    In addition, African American criminals prey on whites at a far higher rate than white criminals do on blacks. Justice Department figures show that in nearly 90 percent of all interracial crimes, a white person turns out to be the victim and a black person the perpetrator – a proportion that has remained remarkably steady for two decades (the figure was 87.49 percent in 1981 and 87.83 percent in 1999).

    Youth Violence

    Sensational media reports of suburban school shootings give the impression that Main Street, USA is seething with potential violence. Yet Mike A. Males, a researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has calculated that the murder rate among white American teenagers in 1995 (that is, the rate at which white youth, ages twelve to seventeen, were killed) was "virtually identical" to that of Canadian youth. By contrast, the murder rate among non-white youth in the United States was eight times higher than among Canadian youth in 1998.

    Gun control advocates frequently point to Canada as a model of strict firearms regulation. Yet, even with our looser laws, white American teenagers are hardly more inclined to engage in gun violence than Canadian youth. Writing in the leftwing journal In These Times, Males points out that, in California, "where white households are the most likely to harbor guns… the gun death rate among white teens (three per 100,000) is as low as Sweden’s or Canada’s."

    A similar phenomenon can be observed nationwide. Males notes that the proportion of youth murders committed with guns in Canada is much smaller than that in the United States. Yet, when Canadian youth are compared specifically with white American teenagers, the difference narrows considerably. "The U.S. white-teen [gun] murder rate is pretty close to Canada’s," notes Males. "Non-white youth are a different story: 180 murders, 147 by guns in 1998, a rate five and eight times higher than for California white or Canadian youth."

    Race, Class or Culture?

    In keeping with his leftwing views, Males emphasizes the role of class in these differential murder rates. He contends that blacks commit more murders because, overall, they have less money. Males’ figures do show that poor and affluent groups within the same race exhibit different levels of violence.

    However, there are clearly factors at work in the American crime wave of the last forty years that cannot be explained by income alone. As John Perazzo points out in The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations, "During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when poverty and hopelessness plagued American life as never before or since, violent crime rates were far lower than today – for whites and blacks alike. Indeed, it was not until the 1960s, a period of economic prosperity, that crime rates soared."

    Certainly, within the black community, cultural factors are at work that have wreaked special havoc among the young. "Thirty years of research suggests that the… boys who are most at risk for juvenile delinquency and violence are boys who are physically separated from their fathers…," writes Clark University philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys.

    Sociologist David Blankenhorn writes in Fatherless America that "the weight of evidence increasingly supports the conclusion that fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men."

    Whatever the reason for the extraordinary level of violence in the black community, it presents anti-gun academics with a question they do not like to address: Why should white people be subjected to the same gun control laws as blacks, when black people are statistically far more likely to commit gun violence?

    Anti-gun academics have no reasonable answer to this question. Only libertarians can answer it in a way that is consistent with traditional American freedom.

    The Libertarian Position

    Many people today have come to believe that rights are conditional. They believe, for instance, that if people are posting hateful or dangerous material on the Internet, then the Internet must be regulated. They believe that if people are making bad use of guns, then guns must be restricted.

    In his book For a New Liberty, Murray Rothbard gave a name to this sort of thinking. He called it "utilitarianism" – the notion that rights and freedoms take second place to utilitarian or practical concerns. In other words, if your rights are felt to conflict in some way, with the greater good of society, then your rights can be taken away. He writes:

    Suppose a society which fervently considers all redheads to be agents of the Devil and therefore to be executed wherever found. Let us further assume that only a small number of redheads exist in any generation – so few as to be statistically insignificant. The utilitarian-libertarian might well reason: "While the murder of isolated redheads is deplorable, the executions are small in number; the vast majority of the public, as non-redheads, achieves enormous psychic satisfaction from the public execution of redheads. The social cost is negligible, the social psychic benefit to the rest of society is great; therefore it is right and proper for society to execute the redheads.

    A true libertarian, however, would recognize that the rights of redheads are just as unalienable as everyone else’s rights. Likewise, a libertarian recognizes the irrevocability of gun rights – including those of black and Hispanic gun owners – regardless of how poorly those rights may have been used, up till now.

    Tomorrow: The Disarming of Black America

    November 4, 2003
  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    Sad, but true.

    There stands a most peculiar fact you'll never—ever—hear mentioned by the leftist extremists.
  3. Langenator

    Langenator Member

    Jul 30, 2003
    Ft Belvoir, VA
    The folks pushing 'hate crime' laws don't like that one to be mentioned eithered.

    And he may mention it tomorrow, but minorities-mostly blacks and hispanics, since Asians tend to have pretty low criminal activity rates-do to a large extent live under different and more restrictive gun control regimes than whites, simply because a far higher percentage of their populations have felony convictions and thus cannont own a firearm.
  4. 2dogs

    2dogs Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    the city
    The Disarming of Black America
    by Richard Poe

    While taking in the sights of Moscow, during my student days in 1978, I ran into an elderly couple from New Jersey. "What a wonderful country!" the woman exclaimed. "There's no crime. You can walk the streets after dark without being afraid."

    No crime? The irony of her statement was not lost on me. I knew that the Soviets had murdered tens of millions of people (20 million, according to Stephane Courtois's Black Book of Communism; 60 million, according to Alexander Solzhenitsyn). Surely this qualified as a "crime" of some sort. But I held my tongue politely.

    Arguing would have seemed insensitive. I knew that, back home in New Jersey, elderly people such as they were prime targets for muggers and burglars. Who was I to begrudge them whatever small pleasure they might glean from strolling Red Square unmolested, under the watchful gaze of gray-uniformed militsionyeri?

    Yet I wondered how deep their admiration for Brezhnev's police state really went. Did those dreamy looks on their faces mean they actually preferred Soviet dictatorship to our own system? I tried not to think about it.

    That chance encounter in Moscow returned to haunt me later, when I stumbled across two disheartening statistics. The first were nationwide poll results showing that 83 percent of African Americans would support a ban on all gun sales, except by special police permit. The second came from a Department of Housing and Urban Development survey of public housing residents, indicating that 68 percent believed that allowing police to conduct random searches for guns, without warrants, would improve safety in their projects.

    Like those elderly tourists in Moscow, black Americans are clearly fed up with crime. And who can blame them? Fully 50 percent of all murder victims in the U.S. are black. But, like those short-sighted tourists, many African Americans appear dangerously willing to tolerate police-state tactics, in exchange for safer streets.

    An authoritarian crackdown might well succeed in curbing crime. Did not Mussolini get the trains running on time? But African Americans would be naïve to expect our government to continue working in their best interests, once it has stripped them of their liberties.

    The Civil Right No One Talks About

    The Clinton Administration lured many black civil rights leaders into supporting the anti-gun movement. But some have declined to jump on the bandwagon.

    Niger Innis is one (first name pronounced Nigh-jer). Growing up in Harlem, Innis lost two brothers to gun-wielding killers. But these tragedies only deepened his conviction that an armed and vigilant citizenry is the best curb on lawlessness.

    "Not every cop can be everywhere at all times," says Innis, who is national spokesman for the New York-based Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). "Decent men and women with families need to be able to defend themselves and their property. It's that simple."

    More to the point, Innis sees gun control as a slippery slope toward outright gun confiscation. Loss of Second Amendment rights, he says, would leave both whites and blacks vulnerable to tyranny.

    Disarmed and Disenfranchised

    "Traditionally, when governments want to disenfranchise people, the first thing they do is disarm them," says Innis. "That was the case in Nazi Germany, when the Jews were disarmed. That was the case in the American South, after slavery."

    Innis is correct, on both counts. On November 7, 1938, a 17-year-old Jewish refugee named Herschel Grynszpan shot and killed a German diplomat in Paris. The highly publicized shooting gave the Nazis the excuse they needed for a major crackdown.

    German newspapers whipped up hysteria over the threat of Jewish terrorism. Then, on November 11, the Nazi government ordered Jews to surrender all firearms, clubs and knives. Without weapons, the Jews were easily herded into concentration camps.

    Southern slaveowners also understood the need to keep their victims helpless and unarmed, as gun-law expert Stephen P. Halbrook documents in his book That Every Man Be Armed.

    "No slave shall go armed with a gun, or shall keep such weapons," declared an 1854 law of North Carolina. Violators received 39 lashes.

    After the Civil War, many white southerners feared that black freedmen would take bloody vengeance on their former masters. Fears of a black uprising were particularly intense in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, where blacks outnumbered whites.

    White southerners responded by creating a race-based caste system – a U.S. version of apartheid. Gun control was crucial to making it work. Southern whites tried to maintain their antebellum monopoly over firearms. Many states barred African Americans from owning guns.

    Local police, state militias and Ku Klux Klansmen rode from house to house, demanding that blacks turn in their weapons. Once disarmed, they were helpless against lynch mobs.

    "Before these midnight marauders made attacks upon peaceful citizens," Representative Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts informed the U.S. Congress in 1871, "there were many instances in the South where the sheriff of the county had preceded them and taken away the arms of their victims."

    On the other hand, freedmen who kept their guns were able to fight back. Representative Butler described an incident in which armed blacks successfully resisted a Klan attack.

    "The colored men then fired on the Ku Klux, and killed their leader or captain right there on the steps of the colored men's house.... There he remained until morning when he was identified, and proved to be 'Pat Inman,' a constable and deputy sheriff...."

    Controlling Blacks

    According to Halbrook, the Fourteenth Amendment temporarily stymied the gun-control efforts of southern whites. It forbade the states from passing any law that would deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.

    But in the 1960s, fear of armed blacks soon got the ball rolling again. Race riots spread from city to city. The Black Panther Party urged African Americans to arm themselves for revolution.

    The response from white America was swift and predictable. As liberal anti-gun crusader Robert Sherrill put it, in his 1973 book The Saturday Night Special, "The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed not to control guns but to control blacks...."

    In their fear of black unrest, white Americans had given birth to a Frankenstein's monster. The machinery of gun control set up in the 1960s is now being turned against its creators – a case of "the chickens coming home to roost," as Malcolm X would have put it.

    Warrantless Searches

    A glimpse of what may lie in store for white America can be seen in some of the extreme measures that have already been used against blacks.

    In the early '90s, some cities experimented with "sweeps" of public housing projects, in which police, without warrants, would systematically enter and search every apartment for weapons. Bill Clinton praised the program, urging its adoption nationwide.

    Project residents were divided in their opinions about the sweeps. Referring to Chicago Housing Authority chairman Vince Lane, who spearheaded the program in that city, one tenant told the Chicago Sun-Times: "He's using the Southern, Jim Crow, Ku Klux Klan method on his own people."

    Other residents declared themselves more than willing to give up their rights, if it would bring peace. "Sometimes you got to sacrifice your rights to save your life," Daisy Bradford told the New York Times. "As far as I'm concerned, the Constitution needs to be changed. The innocent people are being violated by the criminals."

    A federal judge struck down warrantless sweeps in 1995, calling them a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. But in view of their popularity among public-housing residents, it seems only a matter of time before some pretext is found to bring them back.

    The Civil Right No One Talks About

    Niger Innis believes that blacks are being hoodwinked by their leaders.

    "The Jesse Jacksons and the NAACPs are mouthpieces of the liberal establishment and the gun prohibitionist crowd, " he charges. "They are not serving their constituents within the black community. They're serving their masters within the liberal Democratic party."

    According to Innis, the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental freedom. Yet, of all the major civil rights organizations, CORE is the only one defending it.

    "My father [CORE national chairman Roy Innis] is a lifetime member and a board member of the National Rifle Association," says Innis. "We and the NRA are kindred souls, when it comes to the Second Amendment."

    Good Samaritan

    In 1990, CORE defended Kenneth Mendoza, a 19-year-old Hispanic resident of East Harlem hailed in the press as a "Good Samaritan." Mendoza had rescued his pregnant neighbor from a knife-wielding intruder.

    The woman called Mendoza her hero. But, after gunning down the assailant with a .38 pistol, Mendoza was charged with murder and possession of an unlicensed weapon. CORE general counsel Mel A. Sachs managed to get both charges dismissed.

    "No other civil rights organizations have spoken in defense of Good Samaritans," Sachs laments. Yet, about 80 percent of Good Samaritans are minorities, he observes. CORE routinely defends such cases in court.

    Shortly after Mendoza's arrest, the New York Times interviewed the "Good Samaritan's" neighbors, finding strong support for Mendoza's action. "There is a code of law we live by in this neighborhood: people have to survive," said Ralph Vello, 25. "He did the right thing."

    An Ancient Right

    The code to which Vello referred is not unique to East Harlem. It is a timeless principle, enshrined in common law: the right to self-defense.

    Since ancient times, society has recognized the right of free men to arm themselves, in defense of their lives, homes and families. Slaves, however, were often denied this right. Under the laws of William the Conqueror, the difference between free men and slaves was actually defined by ownership – or non-ownership – of weapons.

    "If any person is willing to enfranchise his slave," said the Norman law code, "let him...deliver him free arms, to wit, a lance and a sword; thereupon he is a free man."

    Innis believes that black Americans have an intuitive grasp of the link between guns and freedom, an understanding that will eventually force them to part ways with the Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson crowd.

    Referring to public housing tenants such as Daisy Bradford, who have supported warrantless sweeps, Innis remarks, "People in a housing project that is under siege might not care about an esoteric right, like the right not to be searched without a warrant.

    "But those individuals damn well know what the right of self-defense is. And they know the power of having a gun on the premises.

    "I'll bet if we were to go into that project right now, there would be many law-abiding, decent citizens that have guns in their households, and they are branded as criminals because of unfair gun laws. Those people in that project have a desire to protect themselves more than anybody else. And they'll do it by any means necessary."

    History Will Judge

    Speaking in defense of gun sweeps, back in 1994, Bill Clinton dismissed the charge that warrantless searches violated people's freedom. "The most important freedom we have in this country is the freedom from fear," he declared before the tenants of a violence-plagued Chicago housing project.

    Clinton's words got a respectful hearing from those shell-shocked tenants. But our founding fathers would have seen right through them.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," chided Benjamin Franklin.

    In the end, history will judge whether our generation cared more about saving its freedom or saving its skin. Should we manage to retain any semblance of our constitutional liberties, it will be thanks to the courage of men such as Roy and Niger Innis, who dared to speak out when all around them were silent.

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