I read with interest your latest obloquy, Let’s Pry Open Those Cold, Dead Hands published at In These Times last week, and was inspired to once again put fingers to keyboard in response. I hope that you will again endure to read to the end, even though this is just one more of the “rabid responses” your plaints attract.
I was struck, at first, by the fact that the heart of your piece was on the topic of my first email to you – the grassroots response of those of us who (from my perspective) defend a crucial right of the individual; the fact that we respond spontaneously, in volume, and with our time and money, and your side’s obvious deficiency in this regard. I suppose I should feel honored.
The second point of interest you pronounced in your piece was that we “People of the Gun” as you term us (a term we have since embraced as only the speed of the internet allows), are largely suburban and rural white males. Regardless of the smattering of vocal urban males, females, and people of color who make up our number and are welcome among us, your observation is largely correct. (If you’re interested in the female “People of the Gun” among us, I would be more than happy to forward you a number of web addresses.) Here’s a hint, though: you really should de-emphasize the networking capability of the NRA. They are far too slow and cumbersome a group, and tend to be dragged along behind the leading edge which is made up of the gun blogs and gun boards on the internet. I dare say that most of us don’t visit the NRA’s web site very much. I know I don’t. You are stuck in the mindset that some monolithic organization must lead people in the desired direction. I assure you, it doesn’t work that way any longer.
I was struck thirdly by your citation of the Justice Department report that blacks, who make up only 13 percent of the population, constitute 49 percent of the victims of homicide.
I was struck, because most people avoid mentioning this fact which has been the case for quite a while, and I am loath to do it myself in most discussions on the topic of gun control because, like a corollary to Godwin’s Law mentioning race in any internet discussion almost immediately devolves into accusations of RACISM™! and the discussion quickly crashes to a halt. But since you brought it up, if you’ll do further research you will discover that about half of the perpetrators of homicide are also among that 13 percent of the population. In fact, they are far less than 13 percent. They are most definitely not suburban and rural white males, they are a very tiny, very identifiable demographic: Young. Urban. Black. Males. And they kill each other and the innocent at a rate six times that of the rest of the population. You are absolutely correct that “African Americans have plenty of motivation” to address this problem. They’ve had this motivation for literally decades.
But whose throats do you want to shove “tougher gun policies” down? Whose “cold dead hands” do you intend to “pry open”?
And just how, exactly, will doing this affect that much smaller than 13 percent demographic in any way, shape, or form?
Allow me to quote the final paragraphs of your column:
The Rev. Michael Pfleger knows the numbers. In June, Pfleger and Jackson were arrested for criminal trespassing during a protest outside a gun shop in a Chicago suburb. Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina’s, an African-American Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, has been crusading for stricter regulation of gun shops and manufacturers. Pfleger is in agony over the 34 school-age children in Chicago who were killed by gun violence in the first six months of 2007.
St. Sabina’s 2,200-member congregation is 70 percent female. Pfleger, who happens to be white, is recruiting the pastors at neighboring churches to get into the fight. “The church should be leading the path,” he says. “Women are much more vocal. I believe partly because of their sensitivity to the murder of children. Historically, women are much more progressive. Thats why churches are so vital, because women make up the main membership.”
I venture to guess that the 2,200 members of St. Sabina’s are 70% female because there’s a distinct lack of older black males, in part because of the epidemic levels of violence have been ongoing for so long. But let me point out that the 34 school-age children who died in Chicago were not killed “by gun violence,” they were killed by young black men firing guns. Young men who live in those very communities. The sons and grandsons, the nephews and neighbors of those congregations.
Pardon my asking, Ms. Washington, but don’t you think all those churches and those women could be far more effective at reducing the truly horrific carnage if they addressed their efforts directly at the young men in question, rather than at the suburban and rural white men who are not?
Again, if you’d care to discuss the topic further, I remain:
Your Humble Servant,
(Let’s see if she responds to this one.)