Blacks Allegedly Victimized By 'Racist' Gun Control Laws

By Michael L. Betsch | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - Second Amendment experts say current gun control laws are preventing law abiding African Americans from acting in self-defense against the illegally armed criminals that infest their inner-city neighborhoods.

"Racism still is a big part of gun control," said Kenn Blanchard, a former federal law enforcement officer and author of Black Man With A Gun, A Responsible Gun Ownership Manual For African Americans. "Anywhere that there are no concealed-carry's, there's also a predominant black population," he said.

Blanchard defined two obstacles currently preventing law abiding urban blacks from legally possessing and carrying a firearm: culture and education.

"You have plenty of guns in the inner-city, but they're all illegally owned," Blanchard said. "Most of the time, they're illegally owned because folks don't have the knowledge to know what constitutes making it legal ... They think that it's better to get one at the barber shop than go to the [gun] store and fill out the application.

"We've been conditioned since 1640 that owning a gun will get you either locked up or killed by the authorities more than the bad guy," he said. "So, we kind of fear our government."

Blanchard said urban blacks are constantly bombarded with anti-gun messages from inner-city ministers and the local media. He said the message is always, "Guns are bad! Guns are bad! That's the reason that we're killing our young kids."

"If they would allow the right kind of education to pop up in the church and in the schools, it would change everything," Blanchard said. "But the powers-that-be also know that if that happens, they'll lose a lot of their fear factor."

Gun Owners of America spokesman John Velleco said America's first gun laws were intentionally "racist" to prevent freed blacks from owning guns. He said lawmakers still enact gun laws that prevent law-abiding blacks from enjoying their Second Amendment rights.

"Law abiding African Americans should be encouraged to own guns and to learn how to use them safely and responsibly so that they can take responsibility for their own protection because they can't rely on the police to be there to protect them," Velleco said.

Velleco condemned anti-gun, Democratic lawmakers in cities such as Washington, D.C., for making the concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit a partisan issue that adversely affects blacks.

"Studies have shown, most notably the John Lott study, that in the areas that have the highest crime rates, they've shown the greatest reductions in crimes when gun laws have been relaxed," Velleco said. "So, if you relax the laws and allow the citizens to carry guns, the people in the inner-cities won't be in the situation where they're breaking the law."

John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the book, More Guns, Less Crime, said urban areas tend to have some of the strictest and most discriminatory gun control laws in the country.

Lott said 33 states have "so-called" right to carry laws which stipulate that applicants must meet a series of requirements including criminal background checks, fees and a firearms training session in some instances. Typically, law-abiding blacks don't have a problem meeting those requirements, he said.

However, there are 11 states, commonly referred to as "may issue" states, where concealed carry weapon permit applicants must demonstrate their "need" for a firearm to a local official. That's where inner-city blacks and other minorities run into roadblocks, Lott said.

"When you have these discretionary states, blacks get permits at much lower rates than they get them in the states which are the 'right to carry' states which don't allow discretion on the part of public officials," Lott said.

"You try to get a permit and you live in Harlem, it's like no chance," Lott said. "You'd think these people are going to have the biggest benefit from having it, but when you have this type of [political] discretion in terms of whether or not they'll let somebody get it, they just will refuse."

For example, Lott said there are an estimated 8,000 CCW permit holders in New York City, but he noted that almost all of those permits were approved for predominantly upper-income residents living on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Lott said permit fees also have a discriminatory effect on poor blacks and minorities because the permit fees can fluctuate in the U.S. from $6 for a four-year permit up to nearly $150.

"When you have the higher permit fees, you tend to see a relatively smaller percentage of the permits going to blacks," Lott said. "You also see that in those states that have those higher permit fees a smaller reduction in violent crime [because] the type of person who is getting the permit is less likely to be the type of person who is going to be victimized by crime."

Lott said his research has proven that urban blacks actually benefit disproportionately from whites possessing CCW permits. In fact, he found that the black murder rate falls by "several times more than the white murder rate does for each additional black that gets a permit as compared to an additional white."

Anti-Gunners Fire Back

"There's really no evidence that CCW reduces crime," said Desmond Riley, spokesman for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "I know that John Lott has a different opinion on this."

Riley accused Second Amendment defenders such as Lott of not being concerned with the safety of inner-city blacks and their loved ones.

"If they're really concerned about African-Americans and people in the inner-city, then they would listen to what African-Americans and people in the inner-city want, and that's tough gun laws," Riley said. If you grow up in an environment where people - your friends, your family members, your loved ones - are killed with guns, you don't view guns as sporting instruments; you don't view them as protection ... you view them as something that destroys families and destroys communities and destroys people's lives.

"The chances of a black family in the inner city with a loaded gun on their premises for protection purposes, or being able to use that to actually defend themselves, are very small indeed," said Leah Barrett, executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse. "The chances of something else happening are far greater."

Barrett said issuing CCW permits to law-abiding inner-city blacks would result in more shooting deaths, including suicides.

"People who get depressed will know a gun is in the house," Barrett said. "15,000 Americans die from suicide every year from guns because guns are handy; they're there."

Aside from the fear that adding guns to households will result in accidental injuries, Barrett also worries about a social stigma she believes is attached to CCW permits.

"Do you know what a [CCW permit] means?" Barrett asked. "It means you can walk into a school, a church or a synagogue with a weapon. This is what these people do in Texas and other states. Do we want to be like that?"

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