In my mind, the news release reads a whole lot like this:
The National Rifle Association announced it is offering membership discounts to young black men and women who join the organization.
In a statement, the gun-rights group highlighted last year's fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin and the number of deaths of unarmed black men as evidence that African-Americans need to join them in supporting gun rights and self-defense laws across the country.
"Had Mr. Trayvon Martin been legally allowed to arm and defend himself, this tragic case might have had a different outcome," the NRA said in a statement. "Instead, an unarmed man – who was legally prohibited from purchasing a gun – was unable to defend himself and was killed by another man who did have a gun. . . .
The NRA added it will be sponsoring workshops in African-American neighborhoods aimed at educating residents about the controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, which enable a person to use force in self-defense if they believe they are under threat.
The NRA also stated it will focus its efforts in a similar Florida case involving Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old who was fatally shot in an SUV allegedly by 46-year-old Michael Dunn, a white man, because Davis and his friends allegedly refused to turn down their music.
"We are beginning efforts to lobby federal and state governments to reduce the legal minimum age for law-abiding Americans to purchase and own guns to 15 years old. This would allow all law-abiding teenagers to enjoy the same gun rights and legal protections as adults in defending themselves from attackers."
In truth, of course, the release is just fiction -- a profound bit of satire spun by the Daily Currant website in the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman last year.
But as Americans now try to digest the failure of Florida jurors to convict Michael Dunn of murdering Jordan Davis — Dunn is found guilty of four lesser charges, but a mistrial is declared on first-degree murder — I’m not laughing at the Currant’s brilliant tweak of the NRA. Instead, I wonder why so much of it has to remain a joke.
There's nothing funny about unarmed, innocent blacks being shot down by punk-ass racists. (And if you think that’s an unfair description of Dunn, then consider his jailhouse scribblings.)
And as much we may lament the criminal justice system’s failure to value and vindicate black life when it’s taken by white hands, years — no, decades; no, centuries — of moaning, mourning and marching after the fact has long grown tiresome.
More importantly, it has never saved the life of a single black man, woman or child from the animals who would see them beaten and killed for no other reason than the texture of their hair and color of their skin. We cried for Emmitt Till and were answered with the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. We stood for Rodney King and got Amadou Diallo. We mourned for Sean Bell and our country replied with Oscar Grant and Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and, even more recently, Ricardo Sanes.
Even as black teens are robbed of their futures and black families denied their fathers and sons and brothers, others grow rich off of our misery and pain, off of the hatred that they inflame with unending efforts to paint us as something less than human. Organizations such as the NRA — which counts among its membership racists like Ted Nugent — watch their ranks grow and their coffers bulge not because they care what happens to law-abiding blacks (some of whom are indeed NRA members), but because they successfully fan the flames of paranoia and hatred.
Take, for instance, Martha Rosenberg’s report on the wild-eyed, melodramatic overtones of a little-discussed 2007 NRA brochure titled “Freedom In Peril: Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century:”
Special venom is devoted to the largely African-American New Orleans government officials who “ordered law enforcement officers to go door to door to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint,” during Hurricane Katrina. “When there were no police or 9-1-1 or lights or phones, when armed gangs roamed the streets and gunshots rang out in the moonless sky, when thousands of lawful Americans were reduced to the final and purest form of self-reliance in the face of terrifying anarchy, their very means of self-reliance was taken away,” whines the brochure.
But of course there were police officers present, they were just the wrong race. Or, as one poster put it, “It wasn’t the cops, it was their n***** leaders. How ironic, them taking guns from us.”
Oh yes, the NRA certainly is willing to offer its prescriptions — however loony or misguided — when it comes to white victims of gun violence.
When a mentally sick gunman slaughtered 20 schoolkids and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, the NRA began calling for guns in schools, for increased security and for teachers to pack heat. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told us, “is with a good guy with a gun.”
But black folks don’t even merit the crazy.
When Martin was shot down by Zimmerman two years ago this month, the NRA stood mute. When outrage began to percolate over the fact that Zimmerman wasn’t immediately arrested, the NRA attacked “sensational reporting.” And when Zimmerman was acquitted, the NRA remained almost silent, speaking out only to go in on U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder for blasting the “Stand Your Ground” laws that the NRA has been so successful in pushing.
When Dunn killed Davis on Nov. 23, 2012, the NRA’s reply was again silence. And when the case went to trial, the gun association chose that time to push for an expansion of the “Stand Your Ground” statute.
And now that Dunn has been convicted of four counts and could be jailed for 60 years, the NRA almost certainly won’t have much to say, if anything. (He also could be retried on the murder charge.)
And why not? Because the Stand Your Ground laws weren’t intended to let black people protect themselves. Rather, they make killing black people that much easier.
From a PBS Frontline report:
Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.
The NRA apparently didn’t care that Trayvon Martin was walking home, minding his own business or that Jordan Davis was sitting in car with friends, also minding his own business, or that Ricardo Sanes simply was running through an Orlando backyard.
Outrage Is Insufficient
They are, by definition, the bad guys.
Time out for this shit. It’s no longer sufficient for black people to be “outraged.” It’s no longer enough for us to stomp and cry and hold press conferences and shake our fists and call for calm and express faith in a system that can’t even convict a grown man who shoots into a van full of unarmed kids.
Why should we keep lying? Why should we just keep dying? Why shouldn’t we arm ourselves against these sorts threats?
Even before Stand Your Ground statutes, racism has always declared open season on black folks. Crying and dying haven’t changed this. Perhaps flipping the dynamic will.
After all, hunting isn’t nearly as much fun when the rabbit’s got the gun.
Related Dawsey column: