Despite black legislators’ championing in Congress of gun restrictions, many African Americans see gun ownership as an important civil rights cause, in the spirit of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ comment in 1867 that a man’s rights lay in three boxes: “the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box,” McClatchy Newspapers reports. Fifty four percent of blacks see gun ownership as a good thing, compared with 29 percent just two years ago, reports a Pew Center survey.
Ten black gun owners interviewed by McClatchy said they took extra precautions when they carried their guns, in hopes of avoiding deadly confrontations with police in case they were stopped. In encounters with police, they fear, the guns they’d bought to protect themselves could turn into liabilities. That’s what black gun owners think happened in two recent incidents that brought national attention to the perils of being black and legally armed. The first was the Minnesota case of a police officer shooting Philando Castile while he was in the car next to his girlfriend and with her young daughter in the back seat. The second was the ambush of Dallas police officers by an army veteran who shot 14 people, wounding nine and killing five. In the chaotic early moments, police released a photo of a black man in camouflage carrying a long rifle, asking for information on this “person of interest” in the deadly attack.