• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • September 10, 2014 in Columnists

    Open Carry is racist – and wasting time better spent tackling real issues

    “You know what was wrong with your shooting?” one said. “They didn’t aim better.”
    Jennifer Longdon, gun activist, quoted in the article by Mark Follman in “Mother Jones” from Thursday, May 15, 2014
    “Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women”

    This is embarrassing, but it took seeing this mentioned on the web to get it. Now and then I am reminded of the magnitude of my skin privilege and the privilege of oblivousness that so many in this world do not have.

    Open Carry is fecking racist. It’s also arrogant and bullying – carrying weapons in the open, especially huge ones, is a clear announcement that any one of these people can kill anyone they want, whenever they want.

    Obvious, once it’s mentioned, isn’t it? It’s absolutely, mortifyingly, disgustingly racist. I watch these Second Amendment people strutting about, chests pigeoned out, carrying their gargantuan personal cannons about in plain sight and realize that every single one of them is white.

    That’s right. These folks put fish bellies to shame, could be mistaken by a moth for a light bulb when the full moon shines upon them – in fact, the moon is hardly a more radiant shade of pale than the Open Carry people.

    They walk about with the absolute assurance that, while some people will be pretty horrified or even offended by them, people (of any variety) won’t run screaming, call the cops, pull their own weapons and open fire on them. After all, they’re white, and white people get away with it.

    Now imagine if a young black man strolled into a Walmart with a great big ol’ semi-automatic weapon. Pretty sure half the people there would hit the floor even as they were pissing their pants. The ones with more composure would be on the phone calling 9-1-1 on the assumption that a robbery was going down. Seriously.

    And when the cops were called – the white Open Carry folks wouldn’t get much more than a nod. The young black man, who is doing nothing more than the white Open Carry people are doing, would be dead on the floor faster than an ant can toot. In this case, the young man wasn’t even carrying a real weapon! (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/07/ohio-black-man-killed-by-police-walmart-doubts-cast-witnesss-account).

    It’s one of the more telling, one of the more damning examples of just what is wrong with our attitudes about race in this country – and how far we still have to go.

    Personally, I think Open Carry is flat out stupid. I’ve seen plenty of people with little pistols in holsters on their hips and while I wouldn’t be likely to do it, as long as you’re educated and licensed – and you’re not doing it just to prove you can, I’m just a little wary of it rather than outraged. Truth is, Second Amendment fanatics, we’re not after your guns. In fact, we’re not legally allowed to be after your guns. We’re after you to pass a background check and if you can’t pass it because you’re mentally ill or a convicted felon or a domestic batterer, then yeah, we don’t want you to have a gun.

    Responsible gun owners, seriously, we’re good – at least most of us.

    But not only are you Second Amendment fanatics exemplifying just how appallingly racist we are in this country, this insistence on carrying weapons more suitable to soldiery than to civilians is just beyond the bounds of civilization. Are bears, elk and deer so armed to the teeth that you have to pack a weapon that could take out an entire herd of ungulates in a single burst?

    And while you’re at it, you might police your own. The death threats to people who disagree with you – up to and including this: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/guns-bullying-open-carry-women-moms-texas – aren’t making your case that you should be armed. I suggest you visit the wingnuts among you and remove their weapons yourselves if you don’t want laws passed to do it. These people are not making your case.

    Someone I only sometimes respect made a very good point a long time ago. Miscreant conservative politicians keep Teapublican sheeple pacified by throwing them bones to gnaw on – no gun reform! We hate immigrants, too! – in order to pacify them so those politicians can go forth and do whatever corrupt thing they want to unnoticed by those who should be holding them to task. While you are strutting and crowing like roosters, the politicians are readying the axe for you.

    So, I repeat, if you are a responsible gun owner, if you are not mentally ill, a domestic batterer or a convicted felon – we are not after your guns and we can’t even legally try. No, we’d just rather you get your heads out of your gun magazines, put away your weaponry and concentrate on bringing your rogue Teapublican party to heel. They’re playing you like a bad poker hand and that’s where you need to focus your outrage.

    You have better things to do, as do the rest of us who need to renew our fight against the rampant and blatant racism that this country has yet to leave behind.

      • Terri Connett

      • September 10, 2014 at 11:31 am
      • Reply

      Wow. Great column, Maya! We are twin sisters today, both writing about racism.

        • Maya North

        • September 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm
        • Reply

        I like being your twinnie! Yeah, it makes me so fecking tired — the whole damned thing. It’s like being caught in a herd of lemmings. I have no interest in plummeting over the cliff, but we’re caught in the tide of them and they’re pitching themselves over at a hell of a rate and trying to take us with them. Ugh and oy…/

    • Well said, Maya!

      • Maya North

      • September 11, 2014 at 10:02 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you! Growing up in Missouri, I watched racism hit people of color like an unending series of punches. Sometimes the flinch was just barely perceptible, but oh, it was there. I try sometimes to imagine the consequences on a people to have to fight people hating them for nothing more than skin color– it has to be like this enormous, collective wound. If it makes *me* tired, like Jon Stewart said, it must just literally exhaust the people who are forced to live with it.

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