by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
I’ve been implying for months through this column and on the weekly television show I appear on (Sunday Insight with Charles Sykes) that there’s a reason for the upsurge in gun purchases in America over the last four years that transcends the commonly held assumption that people are afraid their 2nd Amendment rights will be curtailed in the future by ‘liberal’ President Barack Obama.
To be honest—if anyone really wants to be honest—President Obama has done nothing to indicate—until late—that he is any less supportive of gun owner rights than former Presidents George ‘Cowboy’ Bush, or Bill ‘I Carry, if not Care’ Clinton.
Since we’re talking about honesty, there hasn’t been an escalation of terrorist threats to justify the sales of over 300,000 guns since Obama’s election, a doubling of purchases for the prior two decades.
Hum…. think about that: there have been more gun sales since Obama’s election than any other period in U.S. history! Why? And think about the information that follows, which comes from a not so secret (published, but not readily available congressional report):
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reported in a national survey that in 1994, 44 million people, approximately 35% of households, owned 192 million firearms, 65 million of which were handguns.
Seventy-four percent of those individuals were reported to own more than one firearm. According to the ATF, by the end of 1996 approximately 242 million firearms were available for sale to or were possessed by civilians in the United States. That total includes roughly 72 mil handguns (mostly pistols and revolvers), 76 million rifles, and 64 million shotguns.
By 2000, the number of firearms had increased to approximately 259 million: 92 million handguns, 92 million rifles, and 75 million shotguns.
By 2007, the number of firearms had increased to approximately 294 million: 106 million handguns, 105 million rifles, and 83 million shotguns.
Hold on folks, it gets better (or worst depending on your point of reference and where you shack you ammunition): Most guns—particularly assault weapons– used to be made and sold in the United States. Today, we’re looking at a global armament process.
From 2001 through 2007, rifle imports increased from 228,000 to 632,000, and shotgun imports increased from 428,000 to 726,000.
The estimated total number of firearms available to civilians in the United States had increased to approximately 310 million: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns.
Surprisingly, the murder rate (per thousand) has actually gone down, by nearly half in the last decade, from six per thousands to three per. That includes mass murders, like Newtown, Oak Creek, Aurora and Fort Hood, Globally, there have been a total of 352 mass murders in the last 30 years, which puts the murder rate by weapons in perspective if you lay it against the number of Black murders–by Black people during that same period– which is 300 times that number.
All of this trivia information is relevant, but it’s not the direction of this column.
Why are so many Wisconsinites, particularly -outstaters,’ otherwise, God fearing, politically active, sexually satisfied (that’s important) families buying guns in record number?
Why is the Gun Shop in Germantown filled to capacity every night; the four or five shooting ranges in Milwaukee overbooked, and the state department of Justice so back logged with concealed carry permit requests that they may soon subcontract work out to the Boys Scouts (if you don’t understand the irony here, you don’t know much about American history).
If this were Iran, Iran, Israel or Pakistani, I could understand it. But right here in the Midwest (east, west or rural north, for that matter) there is no real international terrorist threat, other than the occasional crazies who walk into our school, malls, and movie theaters, intent on mass chaos and then suicide.
It’s not a dragon, you probably already guessed, but an (African) elephant in the room many of the gun owners subconsciously fear, but are too politically correct to acknowledge outside their circle of friends.
I hope I’m wrong. Dead wrong. But I’ve been receiving a lot of worrisome e-mails and letters (yeah people still send those). I’ve also spent countless hours scanning the Internet trying to piece together a hypothesis. And I’ve been truly observant—like the good old days when our paranoia kept us aware of trends and attitudes. Americans are packing like no time in this country’s history, and that is based on a fear of ‘terrorism’ and anarchy that won’t originate in the Middle East, or as I facetiously said on Sunday Insight two weeks ago, from North Korea. Instead, many fearful or prejudicial White gun owners consider the threat much, much closer, even if that means 200 miles upstate. Some of the mail I’ve received comes from northern Wisconsin, where the only Black images are seen on television, news reports and lawn jockeys. I received one particularly enlightening letter of concern last week. A couple of years ago I would have found the letter to be disconcerting. This time as I read it, my only surprise was in discovering the author signed his name and penned his address.
He started off by explaining why he ‘needs’ his AR-15 and high capacity ammunition. And it wasn’t because of his fear that the movie ‘Red Dawn’ was based on a true story.
Instead he offered the examples of a ‘mini riot’ at Riversplash last June, and the ‘Mayfair Mall ‘riot’ on January 2, 2011, where (his words) “unruly mobs and gangs of youths ran through the stores, smashing merchandise, display cases and performing others acts of overt vandalism.
He went on to use the ‘example of the Riverwest fireworks on July 3, 2011 where ‘people’ (who look like us, I assume) attacked people after the fireworks display, and the state Fair Park incident in August, 2011, where ‘Black thugs’ attacked innocent Whites. Violence regularly occurs at Juneteenth, he said. (Another stupid assumption based on stereotypes.)
Milwaukee is a microcosm of urban America, he continued, noting the Los Angeles ‘riots’ (his term) of 1992, ‘civil unrest and chaos after Hurricane Andrew (1992, and Katrina (2005).
Police basically react or are so overwhelmed they can’t arrest the urban terrorists (pun intended), he said, adding the media understates the extent of the cancer that’s enveloping America.
“Apparently they (media) don’t want the public to know that in drastic times, you are really on your own and can’t always count on law enforcement to be there. “Frightened residents flee the city to purchase arms in the suburbs. They pass background checks and make full payment,” he continued.
The author said he brought his first Colt AR 15 semi auto rifle in 1978, and additional spare high capacity magazines and ammunitions over the years as the escalation of violence in American continued unabated.
“Since then, no one has been threatened, injured or killed due to my possessing this firearm. I did buy it exclusively for self-defense, which is my second amendment constitutional right. I intend no threat, expressed or implied to you or any one else…”
But…”Be advised, however, that if I or my loved ones are under attack by rioters, looters, gangs or flash mobs, I will use lethal force to protect myself, should my call to 911 be unanswered.”
He concluded by adding, he will not discriminate! Anyone who poses a threat will be subject to his wrath–Black or any other hue, he added as an afterthought. That latter point not withstanding, it can be assumed the author is not typical of American gun owners. But I can all but guarantee he is not unique.
If you read between the lines of his letter, he honestly believes that terrorism is a real threat in America, and most of the anarchists look like you and me.
And as I noted several weeks ago, people of like mind are not restricted to Milwaukee area suburbs. Driving through Fond du Lac a couple of months ago, I stopped at a gas station where everybody was strapped, including Granny Clampett and Baby Huey, who had a .45 sticking out his draper. (I had a cane in my trunk, consciously predicting I might run into some problems in Northwest Wisconsin. In retrospect that was really stupid, even though my paranoia remains justified.) I’m not anti-gun. But just like guns and alcohol don’t mix, neither does guns—particularly assault rifles—and stereotypes. Both are equally intoxicating. And potentially dangerous to our health.