This year seems to mark an unprecedented period of violence and fear, with more mass shootings than days—and more guns than people. As more major mass shootings occur across the country, gun sales have increased in tow. Gun purchases rose 40 percent in December 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack that killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut. Americans have rushed to purchase more guns for their own self-defense, in light of recent tragedies in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The ease of purchasing firearms is exemplified by services like ‘Gun TV’—a new home shopping network for guns.
At a press conference this morning, the City of Chicago released a video of Ronald Johnson, a 25 year-old African-American man, being shot to death by a Chicago police. Eight days after Johnson’s death, Laquan McDonald, 17, was shot 16 times by another officer. On top of this violence, the epidemic of gang violence and random inner-city deaths among the African-American community rages on, as it has for decades. Yet African-Americans within these communities don’t call out for more guns—just less violence.
The Reverends Emmett G. Price III and Irene Monroe joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio for their regular Monday feature, All Revved Up. “One of the things we’re hysterical about is folks asking for more guns,” Price said. “You don’t see black people standing up saying we need to arm ourselves and protect our areas—you don’t see black people do that. You see people in the suburbs, people in Middle America who have not faced the type of violence and the type of violence black people have.”
But why has the African-American community not called for an increase in guns, in a a self-defense effort?
"We all know that most people do not know how to shoot a gun," Price said. "Second of all, we know that most people do not have the courage to shoot a person. You put a gun up in the air and shoot it, like people used to do on the fourth of July or new years, and those bullets come down and hit somebody. If you’re trying to protect yourself, if you’re going to try and shoot somebody, you’re going to shoot somebody by accident, you’re going to shoot somebody the wrong way, and even though you were trying to defend yourself. Then, because you don’t know the law, you’re going to be up for a murder charge as well."
Taking recent events into a historical perspective, Monroe said violence within the African-American community comes from a long and storied history with access to guns. “The reason why there are a lot of shootings is because guns were just flooded into our community,” she said. “Similarly to the way drugs were. What you would think that the larger society would understand, particularly suburban white America is that while it may start here, and these urban enclaves, the boundaries are so porous that they will also impact you. Now, people are afraid because they realize it can come to their community, even though you have policed these black communities to keep it contained.”
The widespread panic and fear, according to Monroe, can be attributed to one quality. “You know what it is? It’s a difference between what’s called ‘white fragility’ and what we carry—’quiet grace,’” she said. That’s the difference.”