Gun control is more than just a partisan issue. It’s a race issue.

Sarah Baldwin, Contributing Writer

Less than two weeks after the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, a gunman opened fire on a bar in Thousand Oaks, Ca., killing 12 patrons on Nov. 8. Incidents such as these have left many Americans fearful of becoming victims of mass gun violence. In the past year alone, there has been a surge of anti-gun protests, including the student-led March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and the Never Again movement created by students from the Parkland school shooting. With Democrats’ recent takeover of the House of Representatives, it is likely that we will see a push for stricter gun control in the upcoming months. Yet, it is also a given that such measures will be met with opposition in the Republican controlled Senate. Unfortunately, gun control is and has always been an issue of race rather than one whose focus lies in protecting the lives of American citizens.

Gun control has long been addressed by race instead of the need for public safety. Up until 1967, California had an open carry law, which legally permitted carrying of loaded firearms in public. After the creation of the Black Panther Party and subsequent protest at the state Capitol, the state repealed this law and was actually supported by the NRA in doing so. Evidently, gun control is only an issue of public safety when these weapons are being yielded by people of color.

The fact is that the majority of mass shootings in the United States, from Columbine to the most recent Thousand Oaks attack, are perpetrated by armed white men, who also happen to comprise much of the Republican Party’s base. Clearly, the party cares more about protecting the rights of their white supporters to attack without punishment than they care about saving their citizens’ lives. Surely, if these attacks were committed by people of color, Republicans and the NRA–as we saw in 1967–would be the first to demand legislative action.

Of course, one of the most popular arguments against gun control is the idea of “good guys owning guns.” That is, Republicans believe that regulation will not prevent attacks, and instead, they believe it is necessary to arm others so that they can stop an attack when it begins. Even so, earlier this week, armed security guard Jemel Roberson attempted to apprehend a shooter in an Illinois bar. Roberson, a black man, was successful until law enforcement arrived and killed him after seeing his weapon, even despite witnesses yelling that he was security. By all accounts, Roberson was this “good guy with a gun,” yet there has been zero Republican or NRA outrage. We absolutely would have seen greater shock from conservatives had it been a white man killed for exercising his “constitutional” right to carry. Their silence simply illustrates that their promotion of gun rights and support for the Second Amendment only applies to white men.

In the past decade, Democrats have become increasingly willing to make gun control a central issue in their campaigns, especially given the rise in mass shootings. After their recent win in the midterm elections, it is almost certain that we will see a greater push for stricter regulations, such as universal background checks. Even so, now that these regulations would disturb white America instead of minorities, Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition. Evidently, they care less for the country’s safety than they do the “rights” of white citizens.

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