Why the Recent “Permitless Carry” Legislation Could Negatively Impact the Black Community and Potentially Lead to More Problems
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a “setup” is defined as “the manner in which the elements or components of a system are arranged, designed, or assembled.”
There are two other definitions, however, that Merriam-Webster gives for a “setup” that are extremely intriguing (1) something that has been constructed or contrived and (2) something done by deceit or trickery in order to compromise or frame someone.
These two expanded definitions seem to fall in line with what many believe are synonymous with one of the most controversial pieces of legislation (HB 1927) to come out of the 87th Legislative Session here in Texas that has the potential to negatively and that many believe is a “setup” waiting to happen for the African American community.
HB 1927, which currently sits on the desk of Texas Governor Greg Abbott awaiting his signature as of this article being published, practically eliminates the requirement that any Texas resident legally obtain a license to carry a firearm. Did you hear that?
Yes, you read that correctly. HB 1927, also known as “permitless carry” will allow Texas residents age 21 and over to openly carry a handgun in public without any permit.
In the midst of hearing story after story about mass murders taking place all across the country and here in the state of Texas, the members of the Texas House and Senate, gave people more ability to access guns with less accountability to be authorized to have one.
There are a few exceptions, such as preventing people who are technically prohibited from having a firearm due to state and/or federal law, but there are so many things that should concern many people about this, especially Black people. Can a Black man or woman truly walk down the street or walk in a store or do any other activity that a White person does, without being racially profiled, questioned, deemed a criminal or even accosted for adhering to this new law?
As we look at the significant number of unarmed Black people who have been killed by members of law enforcement over the past several years in this country, including this year alone, the concerns that this new “permitless carry” legislation is not truly intended for Black people, but primarily for White people.
When members of law enforcement constantly use the narratives that they thought the “suspect” was “reaching for his/her waistband,” or that they had to shoot because they were “in fear of their lives,” one can see how the signing of HB 1927 into law has many Black Texas residents concerned.
History has not been kind to Black people as it relates to racial profiling from law enforcement and here has been a tremendous element of risk that Black people have faced when it comes to dealing with law enforcement, even when they are unarmed, let alone when they have a weapon that they are publicly brandishing.
There has been a consistent narrative perpetuated in American society and by the mainstream media that Blacks are inherently violent and “guilty” and up to something nefarious, versus Whites who are typically viewed as responsible and “not guilty” while simply seeking to protect themselves when they carry their firearm.
This is extremely disturbing, in that Blacks, especially Blacks who openly carry a firearm, will run the risk of being identified as a criminal by law enforcement officials and non-Blacks, despite breaking any laws or providing zero threats.
From a different lens, even many members of law enforcement expressed a lack of support for the bill, having testified against it in Austin, stating that the legislation would not only make their jobs more dangerous but would also make it more difficult to know who the good and the bad guys truly are.
Speaking of the bad guys, there are a lot of bad apples in our society and there has been a tremendous uptick in violent crime involving firearms, especially in Harris County.
How does one know whether someone walking up to them brandishing a gun is simply expressing the “constitutional right” or whether they plan to use that firearm to rob them or worse, kill them for whatever reason? Why should regular law-abiding citizens or members of law enforcement be placed in this unfortunate quandary?
Whether walking down the street while Black, eating while Black, driving while Black or having the legal right to carry a firearm without a permit while Black, Black people must be cognizant of the fact the color of their skin has led to them being stereotyped and treated like no other race of people in this country have been treated.
If this “permitless carry” legislation is signed into law and goes into effect, it will be incumbent on law enforcement leaders to train and challenge their officers to purposefully strike a delicate balance between trying not to stereotype Black people who are publicly carrying a firearm and identifying those who truly may be up to no good.
Remember the definitions as presented earlier. This does not smell right and has the pure signs of a “setup” waiting to happen. Black people would be wise to remember that while it may become legal for anyone, including Black people in Texas, to be able to legally and publicly carry a gun across the State of Texas, it has the potential to incite fear in other gun-toting individuals and lead to increased questioning and scrutiny. There will also be those who would choose to use this proposed new law as an excuse to say they were in fear of their lives or that they were acting in self-defense.
If the Gov. Abbott signs this bill into law allowing “permitless carry” to be the law of the land here in Texas, time will tell how this law will impact the Black community.
Stay wise and vigilant Black people!