Opinion: The oppressed need gun rights and education

Timothy Henderson

It is a terrifying time in the United States to be a part of a marginalized and oppressed group.

President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was one that centered around using xenophobia and racism to create fear in white Americans. His language and platform appealed to white nationalists, as well as striking deep fear in the hearts of many people of color, women, transgender individuals and other historically and currently persecuted groups.

Members of white nationalist organizations have seen their beliefs emboldened by not only Trump, but also other popular writers, journalists and media figures. One notable example is Richard Spencer, prominent member and a recognized founder of the alt-right movement.

In 2012, Spencer posed the following question on alternativeright.com: “Is black genocide right?” The post has since been taken down.

The fact that Spencer has supporters despite such intense rhetoric is evidence that violence against the oppressed is still present in American culture. Despite this presence, many on the political left are quick to strike down methods of fighting back and self-defense for those groups.

Firearms are a widely discussed and controversial topic in the United States, and — with proper education and training — are an effective means of self-defense in the situations that put the livelihood of the oppressed at risk.

Members of marginalized groups are often scared to call the police for help, especially people of color who are worried that they might be seen as the aggressor and charged or killed by a police force heavily steeped in systemic racism. Without these safety nets, situations where de-escalation is not a viable option require these groups to have methods to fight back when they are threatened.

Many liberal people often denounce guns and violent retaliation, leading the predominantly left-leaning members of marginalized communities to fear them as well. This is extremely dangerous, particularly during a time in which livelihoods and identities are under such ferocious assault.

Instead of living in fear of guns and avoiding them out of principle, it is time we embraced our right to bear arms and learned more about firearm use and safety. These are not machines that kill everything they touch; they are a viable and valid method of protecting yourself from oppressors.

We need classes on proper operation, care and use of firearms for those who find themselves threatened in a society riddled with white supremacy, transphobia and sexism. Education like this can help foster a shift in cultural perception that is necessary for self-protection to be possible — or even acceptable — for the mistreated.

Timothy Henderson is a guest columnist, contact him at [email protected].