Freedom Rider: White Men and Guns

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

American white men seem afflicted with a peculiar disorder – a lethal irritability that causes them to kill young Black people at the slightest, imagined provocation. It is an historically-based syndrome that claims victims with a regularity that is all but predictable – a pathology that is rooted in “the Founding Fathers, who wanted to enshrine the right to kill without impediment.”

Freedom Rider: White Men and Guns

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

There is no other explanation for ‘stand your ground’ laws and ‘castle doctrines’ except to give license for murder at a whim.”

Michael Dunn may be an easily identifiable outlier, but America clearly has a serious gun fixation and it results in the deaths of 11,000 people every year. Michael Dunn is the Jacksonville, Florida man who shot Jordan Davis to death in the so-called “loud music” case. It should have been called the “white person shoots black person just because” case.

It isn’t only white Americans like Dunn who kill with firearms, but the number of white men committing murder over seemingly strange reasons is increasing. It is easy to look at these individuals and label them as deviant, but these apples aren’t falling far from the nation’s tree.

The belief that white people ought to rule goes back to the earliest days of this country’s colonial history. The independent nation was no different as it relentlessly enforced an awful code of injustice based upon race. The Second Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees a right to bear arms, was meant to give every white man the right to police the enslaved and indigenous populations.

Most white Americans are not aware of that particular historical fact but they surely believe in its intent more than 200 years later. There is no other explanation for “stand your ground” laws and “castle doctrines” except to give license for murder at a whim.

“The number of white men committing murder over seemingly strange reasons is increasing.”

Yet like all madness, it cannot be isolated enough to punish only those meant to be victims. Two years ago, a white door to door salesman named Nick Rainey was shot dead by another white man, Kenneth Roop, in Cape Coral, Florida. Roop considered anyone who set foot on his property a trespasser whom he had the right to kill. Roop first shot Rainy in the shoulder and then stood over him and shot him in the back of the head. He told police that the fatal bullet was “for effect.” It wasn’t Roop’s first brush with the law. Seven years earlier he held a woman at gun point when she came to read his electric meter. He was charged in this case but was acquitted by a jury.

Florida has become a very dangerous place, where one white man recently shot and killed another in a movie theater because of an argument about texting and thrown popcorn. Not only the killer but other white Floridians have defended his act as being a reasonable use of force. The occasional death of a white person is apparently a small price to pay to keep black people in line.

Michael Dunn was born in the 20th century but he is the heir of the Founding Fathers who wanted to enshrine the right to kill without impediment. If prevented from doing as they wanted, they bitterly complained of mistreatment just as Dunn is doing today.

"You know I was thinking about that today, I was like I'm the f*** victim here, I was the one who was victimized. I mean I don't know how else to cut it, like they attacked me, I’m the victim. I'm the victor, but I was the victim too."

The occasional death of a white person is apparently a small price to pay to keep black people in line.”

That statement says it all. A 2011 study showed that white Americans felt themselves more likely to be discriminated against than blacks. Those results would be laughable if that mentality did not have such dire consequences for black people. There is no evidence, no data, which shows white disadvantage, quite the opposite. Surely few white people would switch places with black people, because like Dunn they know they are the victors but somehow they still find reasons to see themselves as victimized.

Every now and then an unfortunate white moviegoer or door to door salesman will be killed but the bulk of these cases involve gun loving white men who kill black people. In Texas, Brian Cloninger shot an 8-year old black child in the face. When asked why he said, “Because I wanted to.” In North Carolina Jasmine Thar was killed by James Blackwell who claimed that his gun went off by accident. Blackwell was never even arrested.

These cases give one a disturbing kind of precognition. We know that there are more Trayvon Martins and Jordan Davises and Renisha McBrides around the country. We don’t know the details or the names but history shows us that others will be added to the long list of victims.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.