There is considerable tension between those who believe there should be no restrictions on the 2nd Amendment (the Right to Bear Arms) and those who prefer stricter gun control laws. This debate usually falls along partisan lines: Republicans tend to fully support the 2nd Amendment and Democrats advocate for stronger gun control. However, there are those who don’t affiliate with either party who believe that as long as the police and military have weapons than the people should also have them in order to defend themselves from “government tyranny.” No matter where you stand on this issue, after we witnessed another mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February that left 17 young people and teachers dead, there needs to be a serious national discussion about the dangerous confluence of toxic masculinity, racism, and an unregulated gun culture.
At the same time, there are clear racial implications to this debate. Graham’s article points out how even when Black people assert their right to bear arms, they often don’t have the same ability to exercise those rights as white people do. This racial double standard has lead to several unarmed Black people being killed by law enforcement because its assumed they were armed (Sam Dubose, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Amadou Diallo, etc.) while white mass shooters have killed numerous people but were arrested unharmed (Dylann Roof, James Holmes, Robert Dear, Eric Fein, Ryan Giroux, Nikolas Cruz, etc.). So the question remains, do Black people even have the right to bear arms?
For this 400-word writing response, you are asked to discuss where you stand on the 2nd Amendment. Do you support it wholeheartedly with no restrictions? Do you think people should have the right to only keep long rifles to hunt or hand guns for self defense? Or are you someone who’s completely opposed to citizens being armed? If you support the 2nd Amendment, how do you propose the government (politicians and the police) can do a better job making sure all citizens, regardless of race, are able to exercise this right? If you’re against individual citizens having weapons, do you think law enforcement and the military should be the only armed groups in society? If so, then how do citizens defend themselves from potential government authoritarianism and repression?