It’s almost routine now.
Escalating from a simple traffic stop, another unarmed black man was gunned-down today by a South Carolina cop who said that he ‘feared for his life.’
The people who insist that gun control is unnecessary because we don’t have a “gun problem” might want to consider the possibility that all of those police shootings of unarmed black men have as much to do with the assumption that everyone is “carrying” now as they have to do with the more obvious issue of racial profiling.
Even though, statistically, far more guns are in the hands of caucasians than black men, somehow these (mostly southern) officers of the law simply assume that every black man who is reluctant to surrender to the tender mercies of Officer Friendly is getting ready to pull out a cannon and open fire.
That they are reluctant precisely because Officer Friendly isn’t so friendly anymore, seems to evade the constables in question, over and over again.
However, in concentrating solely on the appalling truth that un-evolved attitudes toward race seem to persist in pockets all over the country, we may be overlooking an opportunity to make everyone, and especially young black men, much safer from these “accidental” shootings through a well-regulated system of gun control.
As things now stand, all Americans are well advised to bear in mind that there are 90 guns for every 100 people, so all of the strangers they encounter in a given day seem far more likely to be carrying than not.
Of course the statistics do not take into consideration how many people own multiple weapons, and that the number of individual owners has been gradually declining over the past few decades.
But such subtleties are generally wasted on the police, who run a far greater risk than we do as civilians, of having a deadly encounter with a gun.
The anxiety this reality has produced in already poorly trained police is a recipe for disaster.
When combined with the bald racial prejudice that apparently remains pervasive in too many law enforcement bodies, it is enough to make being in the wrong place at the wrong time a deadly offense for far too many black men.
Here then, is another way in which the American cult of firearms has made an entire sector of society selectively even more unsafe.
Until American leaders have the courage to face down the NRA and insist on a reframing of the much abused Second Amendment that recognizes unregulated firearms as the threat to our freedom that they actually represent today, we will continue to have a hugely disproportionate number of senseless gun deaths when compared to Canada, Europe and nearly everywhere else in the civilized world.