Should Black Gun Owners Be Afraid to Exercise Their 2A Rights?

by Chad D. Baus

Swat Police Confiscation Arrest iStock-KatarzynaBialasiewicz-487103798-(5)
Should Black Americans be afraid of using exercising their 2A rights? iStock-KatarzynaBialasiewicz -487103798-(5)

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the Second Amendment community is the sense of family. Whether you’re at a shooting range getting in some target practice, at a gun show to find your next treasure, or in the field for a hunt, there is always a sense of camaraderie among gun owners that I really enjoy.

The great thing about families is that they tend to stick together. We may have our internal squabbles, but when one part of the family is threatened by an outsider, everyone else comes to their aid.

It is my firm belief, after several high profile, and some not-so-high-profile examples in recent years, that a part of our Second Amendment family is in need of aid.

The Second Amendment Family Member Who Needs Aid is the Law-abiding Black Gun Owner.

In choosing to write about this subject, I recognize I am entering dangerous waters.

Issues of race and police-involved shootings have permeated the national conversation for many years now. And, like everything from Chick-Fil-A to COVID-19, people seem to divide up quickly into two camps when it comes to this subject.

Persons on one side of this conversation are often unwilling to tolerate any mention of the fact that some of these incidents involve people who are involved in irresponsible (or sometimes criminal) behavior, or who chose to do things that could be reasonably seen as threatening in the moments before being shot.

Persons on the other side of this conversation are often unwilling to consider that the use of deadly force may not always have been necessary even when a crime was being committed, and won’t contemplate even the possibility that race can be a factor in any of these instances.

Both groups may not like what I have to say.

But in the months since the nation watched the life of George Floyd vanish on that Minneapolis pavement, and as our nation continues to take stock of where we are on the race issue, I feel compelled to try to learn more from the members of our family (black gun owners and concealed handgun license [CHL]-holders) who are forced to consider how the tone of their skin might affect their ability to peacefully exercise their constitutional right to bear arms for defense and security.

“Stop Hassling People!”

Many gun owners will remember the name Philando Castile. On July 6, 2016, Mr. Castile was shot to death by a Minneapolis police officer. Castile had been pulled over because a brake light was burned out. He bled to death in front of his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and their 4-year-old child.

In the dashcam video, after being asked for his license and registration, Castile – a concealed handgun license-holder – notified Officer Yanez that he had a firearm, to which Yanez replied, “Don’t reach for it then.” Castile said, “I’m, I, I was reaching for…” Yanez said, “Don’t pull it out.” Castile replied “I’m not pulling it out,” and Reynolds said, “He’s not!” Yanez repeated “Don’t pull it out!” and then shot at Castile at close range seven times, hitting him five times.

Few gun owners, even here in Ohio, are likely to recall the names Randall “Brian” Scott Jr., Joseph Davis Jr., and Henry Green. These three young black men were also exercising their right to carry a concealed firearm when they were shot.

For the sake of brevity, I won’t go through the details of each man’s encounter with the police here, but at the very least we can correctly summarize by saying that mistakes were made by these three Ohio license-holders, and their activities were likely to draw the attention of police no matter the amount of melanin in their skin.

The question is, were officers’ subsequent actions in any way affected by the fact that these three men are black? Were the officers more nervous or “on edge?” More likely to think they were in danger? Less willing to make certain the CHL-holders’ actions were in fact threatening? In Davis’ case at least, the officer who fired the shot is also black. Is it also possible for a black officer to behave differently based on the ethnicity of his suspect?

In the case of Castile we might need to examine why he was stopped in the first place. Consider this, from Greg Ellifritz, full-time firearms and defensive tactics training officer writing to fellow law-enforcement officers on the Castile incident after Yanez was acquitted:

Look at this shooting. The reason for contact (only one functioning brake light) is valid legally, but what do people think about cops pulling people over for minor infractions like that? They don’t like it. Following the logic, they will like it even less when someone gets shot as a result of a “bullshit” stop.

I know what the cop was doing, he was likely hunting for criminals and people who have warrants. I see it pretty regularly. Cops pull over crappy cars for equipment violations, hunting for an arrest. Poor people who can’t afford to fix busted tail lights often can’t afford to pay their tickets, their child support, or their court fees. Their driver’s licenses are frequently suspended and they regularly have warrants.

So, aggressive cop looking to arrest “bad guys” pulls over a beater car and runs everyone inside for warrants. About 25% of the time he gets lucky and gets an arrest or a bunch of tickets. Every once in awhile, bad shit happens, innocent people die and the cop ends up in the national media spotlight. Is it worth it to take the chance of such a negative outcome to enforce a relatively inconsequential traffic violation?

The problem is that a large portion of society thinks that your hard work and “aggressive and proactive” policing style looks an awful lot like “screwing with poor people” instead of hunting criminals.

STOP HASSLING PEOPLE! The fact that some dude has a suspended license or hasn’t paid a speeding ticket is not negatively affecting the real safety of the community you patrol. I know you want to do good things and make lots of arrests, but every stop you make has the potential to go REALLY bad. Don’t stop people for bogus violations. Don’t hunt minor scofflaws. The public doesn’t respect you for doing so and occasionally you will get thrown under the bus when you screw something up, or your stop ends up in a shooting that you didn’t intend.

If you are tempted to read Ellifritz’s own testimony as a law enforcement officer and still think this isn’t a common problem, I encourage you to start asking black friends or acquaintances about their own experiences. I have, and every single person I’ve asked has told me this type of thing has happened to them.

Here is what a member of my wife’s family shared:

I lived in Memphis in the mid 90’s and drove an old run-down Caprice Classic for a while. I got pulled over on a weekly basis because I and/or my car “fit the description” of someone who had just committed a crime. Everything in my car would get searched and dumped into the street and I would be left to clean it up and hope I made it to wherever I was going on time. It’s worth noting that most thugs and gangsters in Memphis at that time drove big cars like that. Even though I was a nerd, with no drugs or warrants, working at IBM, who happened to be driving a big car, it didn’t matter.

Before you excuse this as a twenty-five-year-old Southern problem, consider that I was given a very similar and much more recent account from a friend who lives right here in good ol’ Northwest Ohio.

If this was your weekly (or even monthly or quarterly or yearly!) experience as you went about minding your own business and breaking no laws, how frustrated and concerned would you be about being stopped so frequently?

One of the “Good Guys,” or a Potential Threat?

The hassling doesn’t just come at the hands of law enforcement – at least not initially.

At 8:47 a.m. on August 13, 2020, while sitting in his car, eating his breakfast and talking on this phone, Darren Cooper, a black CHL-holder who had arrived early for a continuing education event, found himself surrounded by Ravenna, OH police officers. Reports say at least two of the officers had their guns unholstered. One officer had his AR-15 at the ready. The reason? A woman in a dentist’s office across the street called 911 and reported a man sitting in his car waving a “pistol” around, acting “erratically.”

Police searched his car and found nothing. Cooper did not have his firearm with him that day. In the wake of incidents like Castile’s and others mentioned above, one is forced to wonder how different the situation might have turned out if he had.

Summit County officials say they have no plans to charge the woman for making a false report because they don’t want to discourage tips. On the other hand, they expressed no concerns whatsoever about how incidents like this discourage black people from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

When instructing students in my concealed carry classes about what to do if they are detained for a law enforcement purpose (traffic stop, witness to an accident, etc.), I explain that in my experience officers are typically quite friendly to me when I fulfill my legal obligation to promptly identify myself as a CHL-holder during such an encounter. I even go so far as to say that I feel like it’s gotten me some grace a time or two when I was given a warning for speeding instead of a ticket.

But in the wake of these accounts, and as I have begun to ask more questions of my black friends about their experiences with law enforcement, I’ve had to do some soul-searching.

What would it be like if, instead of being seen by most officers as one of the “good guys” when they learned I was carrying, I was instead immediately seen as a threat? What would it be like if my family literally feared for my life if I was carrying (or even if I was unarmed) and got pulled over on a run to the pharmacy or grocery because I “fit the description?” Would this change my decision to exercise my Second Amendment right to bear arms?

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Cooper about his false report incident and ask him some of these questions.

He told me that, for him, the choice to get his license and carry concealed started with hearing then-President George W. Bush observe that EVERY man has a right to protect his home and to protect his family.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that,” Cooper told me.

Since then, he has been exercising his Second Amendment rights, and recently just renewed his CHL. He shared that, prior to that bright August morning in Ravenna, he has not had to interact with police during his time as a CHL-holder.

So some, like Mr. Cooper, weigh the pros and cons and decide to exercise their right to carry. Others decide the cons outweigh the pros.

Here is what another black friend (my former CHL class student, a successful small business owner, and family man) had to say when I asked him about his thought process on deciding whether or not to exercise his right to carry:

It is a pretty weighty question that has so many components that come into play. I truly believe that 80% of law enforcement are the good guys. It is so unfortunate that our society has to go through so much anguish because of the 20%. The problem with 20% being a problem is, this is an industry where you can’t have that huge of a failure percentage. Imagine if 20% of commercial pilots failed to land their planes. No one would fly. We have to find a way to make things better. Now to your question.

I took the CCW class mainly because I grew up in California and it was such a lengthy process to obtain a firearm. So honestly it was more of, “I am going to do this because it is an opportunity that I never had.”

After the class I decided not to get my license, because I knew that if the situation ever arose that I had to pull my weapon, proving my case would be far more difficult than I would want to put my family through. Which brings me to my specific reasons. If I did buy a weapon, there is no way I could ever carry it.

First, because if my shirt ever revealed my weapon, I am not convinced that some backwoods cowboy would not take that as a reason to draw his weapon on me. Now I am put in the position of either dying, or having to shoot to kill, thereby putting my family in a tough position of proving my innocence.

Second, if I was pulled over, I do not think I would be treated favorably for having my CCW, and even if I didn’t have my gun on me, which I could never carry because of reason one, my vehicle would fully searched 8 out of 10 times that I was pulled over. Knowing that I am going to get pulled over more than other individuals even for petty offenses (I have shared some of my personal experiences with you), it will not make my life easier having a registered CCW. In the world we live in, there is no advantage to me carrying a weapon on me.

Someday, I may have a weapon of some sort in my home, but the cons of carrying far outweigh exercising a Constitutional right that I would always pray I never had to invoke.

What Can We Do About It?

It is my hope that white gun owners read that testimony and react with righteous anger. Part of our Second Amendment family – our black brothers and sisters – desperately want to exercise their Second Amendment rights. But many have weighed the odds, measured the potential cost, and determined that the likelihood of troubles because they are carrying far outweigh the likelihood of troubles that could come while not carrying.

If that angers you, I hope your next question is, “but what can we – the gun rights community as a whole – do about it?”

I don’t claim to have all the answers. This is a complicated issue. But it should go without saying that our fellow law-abiding black Americans have every bit as much right to bear arms as any other citizen, just as Cooper remembers President Bush observing. If their rights are being infringed, or if they are being treated differently or caused to be in fear of exercising their Second Amendment rights, gun rights advocates must come to their aid.

Here are some suggestions I hope we can all get on board with:

  • Ask your black friends/co-workers/associates/range members about their own thoughts and experiences on this topic. Have they experienced this type of harassment? Have they made choices not to exercise their rights in response to these concerns? The more stories you hear (and you WILL hear them if you start asking, trust me), the more you’re going to understand the injustice of this situation and want to join efforts to make things right.
  • Support efforts to weed out the segment of police officers who have a tendency to abuse their power – Ellifritz’s “aggressive” cop who is known for “hassling” people. Make sure the candidates you vote for do as well. Don’t let your support for the “thin blue line” blind you to this very real problem with a small segment of the law enforcement community.
  • When you hear of a law-abiding black gun owner being treated unjustly, start or join efforts to draw attention to it. Express your concerns to the police department leadership and to your elected officials. Engage in a social media campaign. Write letters to the editor. Organize a public demonstration.
  • Share articles like this on social media platforms so others can read them. We live in a time when people are willing to look at this topic with new eyes. The more people look at each perspective and speak out when someone is being mistreated, the more the situation will improve.

Law-abiding gun owners, part of our family needs our help. Let’s do this!


Buckeye Firearms Association

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more. www.buckeyefirearms.org

Buckeye Firearms Association logo

Subscribe
Notify of
40 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TStheDeplorable
TStheDeplorable
8 months ago

This article makes the mistake of looking for trends in a very tiny sample of incidents. When all police contacts with suspects are analyzed, there is no evidence of racial discrimination by police in the decision to use force, the type of force to use, or the level of force used, based on the race of the suspect. I am happy to see more black Americans arming themselves, even the idiots of NFAC who have managed to accidentally shoot three of their own. I think this is a tremendous opportunity to build bridges by sharing the love of firearms and… Read more »

Pa John
Pa John
8 months ago

In addition, ask your black and other minority friends and neighbors – especially those who have ever lived in any of the harsher massive democrat run inner-city areas – how many times have they or their friends and family members been robbed by the police? This kind of organized robbery crosses all racial lines, with the only real defining parameter being that those folks who most fit the pattern of those most likely to be pulled over by police, are of course the ones most likely to be robbed by them as well. Please watch the following older (from 2014,… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  Pa John

– I didn’t watch your video, because I’m already aware of the evil-tyrannical nature of Civil asset forfeiture. With all the other shit going on, it had sort of fallen off my radar.
If bringing the people of this country together is a goal, that should certainly be a topic we can agree on. Democrat or a Republican, antifa or militia, we should all be able to agree that allowing law enforcement to arbitrarily seize whatever they can get their hands on is unacceptable.

Swany
Swany
8 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

I could be wrong but I would think with every human on this planet walking around with a phone in their face , all of the recording being done , would bring more attention to this problem….

Tionico
Tionico
8 months ago

I’m a white guy, most would probably cosider me “old”. I’ve driven somewhere around two and a half million miles, in everything from a big rig down to a Honda Fifty. NEVER had an at fault accident, last mving violatioin was in 1994. I have twice been pulled over for nonsense in Portland Oregon, once on a bicycle the toher in an out of state car (Washington plates). Both times the copers were aggressive, in my mug, nasty, vicious, jerks, in the first they two began chewing in me right away. Seemed to be deliberately trying to provoke me to… Read more »

Dr. Strangelove
Dr. Strangelove
8 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

As a truck driver and a cyclist, I have never experienced behavior like that. I’ve been treated unfairly, IMO, by DOT, but nothing like that. I think that you are an exception to the rule.

Tionico
Tionico
8 months ago

The reason for contact (only one functioning brake light) is valid legally, but what do people think about cops pulling people over for minor infractions THIS is the root of far tooo much serious trouble. Yes, pull a guy over, walk up to the window and after greeting the drive,r simply and calmly inform him “Sir, your right brakelamp is not working. Just thought I’d let you know so you can deal with it. Enjoy the rest of your day Sir”. END OF CONVERSATION. Get back in your cruiser and cruise off. Be polite, respectful courteous,helpful. WHY do they always… Read more »

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

Because their Departments require/expect it, that is why.

MICHAEL J
MICHAEL J
8 months ago

It’s very true that a routine traffic stop is everything but routine. The very notion that stopping a suspect vehicle could net an over zealous policeman his days work. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time always seems to net me trouble. Anybody could find something if it were their job to do so, they just need a reason to get that ball rolling. I recently had my car painted and masking tape was inadvertently left dimming the license plate lamp, although on it wasn’t bright enough for a pass, but a “routine stop”. 20 minutes later, I… Read more »

Camotim
Camotim
8 months ago

The NRA was formed, in large part, to defend the 2A rights of Southern Blacks which were being attacked by the Democrat Party and its then terrorist group the KKK.

loveaduck
loveaduck
8 months ago
Reply to  Camotim

Having worked for, with, and supervised people of color, I can say there’s nothing theoretical about racial profiling by police. My friends, to a person, did not trust police.

moe mensale
moe mensale
8 months ago
Reply to  Camotim

Not even close. The NRA’s founding had nothing to do with any blacks or the KKK. Either provide supporting links or stop posting bullshit. You sound like “Patriot Solutions” aka “USA.”

Last edited 8 months ago by moe mensale
uncle dudley
uncle dudley
8 months ago

Following the law is pretty simple , it doesn’t matter what color you are or what type of vehicle you are driving keep the vehicle in legal operating condition and use turn signals, plus speed limit signs are in place for a reason not a suggestion. I am disappointed that you injected George Floyd in your article which had nothing to do with a firearm only his bad behavior and drug abuse, plus it looks like you believe everything the media has rammed down our throats with their stories and the trial hasn’t even been held yet. Every law abiding… Read more »

Grim
Grim
8 months ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

Bullfeathers Uncle PollyAnna

loveaduck
loveaduck
8 months ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

Live with a black guy for awhile.

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  uncle dudley

@UD – Driving safely should be sufficient. I’m lucky enough to be white and live in Texas… I always try to observe speed limit signs, generally staying within 20 over and under 100 if less. While I’ve been stopped, have only gotten two tickets in my life. Most accidents happen close to home and at slow speeds. Why? Not because it is dangerous to drive slow (if you’re not impending traffic) but because most drivers have reasonably good judgment and drive slowly when conditions warrant. i have observed differential treatment, which appears to be racially motivated. However worst instances i’ve… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

@wjd – I’ve seen several of the videos used as examples of innocent unarmed black men getting shot by the police. My biggest take away has been – if those are the worst examples they can find, problem is very minor. Some of the examples show questionable behavior (I wasn’t there and know video doesn’t show everything) but many of the videos show cops acting with restraint – being pushed to point where they have no other option. IRL I’ve seen cops behave belligerent for no discernible reason, and have not been shot by a very professional CHP officer despite… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

– Not disagreeing with you at all. As I said videos used as “evidence” of police brutality direct at black men – usually show the opposite. When nationwide protests take place, triggered by a single case of police brutality, one would expect there to have actually been brutality… yet video show the opposite.

Agreed about whites shot by police. One reason to read AmmoLand is to learn about those less publicized events. Ryan Whitaker springs to mind. Marry a peep elsewhere.

Westside
Westside
8 months ago

There is so much wrong in this rant it would take another article to respond. You lost me at “a part of our Second Amendment family is in need of aid”. The rights of ALL gun owners in this country are being severely abused. Are there issues? Absolutely, just ask Senator Tim Scott who has been stopped something like seventeen times in DC for being black. But, let’s also look at some facts. More white males are shot (and killed) by police than black males. In the VAST majority of these “excessive force” cases, if the people had just complied… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Westside
Grim
Grim
8 months ago
Reply to  Westside

Police acting like thugs are thugs. They are a gang with colors and hide behind the “thin blue line”. It is rare for police to call BS on fellow officers.
To quote one of many cop “blood in, blood out”. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Matt in Oklahoma
Matt in Oklahoma
8 months ago

Tell you the sane thing I tell everyone else. Since you know so much do the job. Apply and show us all how to do it. Be a reserve. No excuses

Hazcat
Hazcat
8 months ago

It sounds like you are a cop, Matt. It also sounds like you are part of the problem.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  Hazcat

I can assure you that Matt is not part of the problem.

Grim
Grim
8 months ago

Tried it. Thugs is thugs. Quit.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  Grim

That’s OK, it’s not for everyone.

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  Grim

– Where did you work? Departments vary, some being more “thuggish” than others.
Were you full time in an urban PD or part time with a rural sheriff? I can only imagine it makes a huge difference.

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago

@Matt – I would, but I need eye surgery first. Not that minor lasik stuff but full on lens replacement. Not sure I’m willing to risk my (correctable) vision and pay for that surgery in order to spend time and money on the academy, in order to apply for a volunteer position on sheriff’s reserve. Making matters worse, the academy rarely runs night classes which I’d need since I have a paying job I need to keep. While doing good would be a benefit, biggest attraction would have to be LEOSA. If we have blue-wave Cruz is warning us about,… Read more »

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

“LEOSA protection”? Surely you jest. On the rare occasion I travel out of State I carry my retirement credentials but that is it. I just conduct myself in a manner such as to not draw attention to myself.

Arny
Arny
8 months ago

Any tax payer has the RIGHT to complain. You chose the career. You don’t like it find another. See how that logic works ? I never needed police. And doubt I ever will. If you’re not elected. You really are nothing more than a Red Coat.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  Arny

Tell me Arny, how much are you paid to post drivel like that here. Because there is no way any cognizant person would post something like that.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

Always seems to be plenty of those turkeys around. I try to stay out of that supply chain.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

Now that is interesting.

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago

While I recognize that Texas is not free of current discrimination and has a spotty history, I am reminded again how luck I am for growing roots here. I admit my observations are quite limited, but in my experience people here are far more polite, friendly, and accepting than anywhere in California. I’m OK with them continuing to claim to be “advanced” and that we are “backwards” if it reduces coastal immigration into my favorite state.

OK – so I am prejudiced against Californians, probably because I’ve known so many.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
8 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

I’m a californian from way back and I agree. I escaped that dump about 8 years ago and I am never going back, probably not even for my mom’s funeral. Unfortunately Oregone is full of them and is so messed up that it is becoming commifornia too. They messed up Washington back in the 80s when they all ran away because of the earthquakes and because of high tech jobs. I just cant decide if I want to move and face cold hard winters with snow in Wyoming or South Dakota or stay here and fight it out. Missoula Montana… Read more »

Mack
Mack
8 months ago

It would help to read “Negroes with Guns” by Robert F. Williams.

The hardback 1962 version.

I’ve read the book in its entirety – and so should everyone else.

Wilkins of the NAACP did not appreciate self-reliance. See here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/07/29/standing-our-ground/

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
8 months ago
Reply to  Mack

Negroes, Blacks, African Americans. I get tired of who wants to be called what. You call them black and you are racist because you refer to them as a color or you call the African American and you are racist because they are black. We are all Americans in the end and we all have names. Why do we need to refer to others as jews, mexican, italian muslem you name it and my biggest question is, if you were born here, aren’t you a American first and then your ancestry is second? I am of german decent but born… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

My parents were immigrants. Growing up I had ties to the old land. My father explained why they migrated and I have virtues the land of my ancestors. There are a things to be proud of in their history, but it is not my history and I could not see migrating back under any foreseeable circumstances. If things got bad enough here to make the old country look better, it would be time to fight harder for this one.

So yes – American first. No divided loyalty.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
8 months ago

should-black-gun-owners-be-afraid-exercise-their-2a-rights who are forced to consider how the tone of their skin might affect their ability to peacefully exercise their constitutional right to bear arms for defense and security. I don’t know if I am getting older and confused or the way people talk now has changed and I am not hip to it. I read the headline a few times and then decided to read the article because I have a black gun and I was wondering why I should be afraid to shoot it. After a few paragraphs in I realized that I am safe because it was… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
8 months ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

Have heard from many LTC holders that it serves as a get-out-of-tickets card. Wouldn’t know a story I have not been stopped since getting mine.

Have however been pulled over for a burned out tail light. Asked him which one, expressed consternation that it should have burned out so quick, and asked if I’d be OK completing my short drive home before fixing.

If he asked to search my car, I’d ask for his warrant.

RoyD
RoyD
8 months ago

Actions have consequences.