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February 22, 2013

Black leaders decry gun control proposals

Posted by Rebecca Lurye

A group of African American civic and community leaders took a vocal stand Friday against proposed gun control reforms that they contend are rooted in racism.

Gun control proposals in talks now, speakers at a Friday press conference said, would disproportionately hurt African Americans, preventing people from defending their homes and families.

Stricter regulations would take more guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, leaving them vulnerable to those who carry illegal firearms, said Star Parker, president and founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, which hosted the event at the National Press Club.

“Blacks are the least armed, least protected and defended, and the most assaulted citizens in our country,” she said. “Can anyone who God has blessed with a brain actually think universal background checks, in which some past legal infraction might nullify a gun application, will not result in fewer law-abiding black men obtaining a weapon to protect their families?”

The group included Pastor Bruce Rivers of Los Banos, Calif., whose son was gunned down by gang members; Dr. Deborah Honeycutt, a family physician and medical director of the Clayton State University Health Clinic in Georgia; and Harry Alford, chief executive officer of the National Black Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Alford said that many of the 2 million business owners that his group represents carry weapons to protect their stores and restaurants, and lawmakers need to take their safety and rights seriously.
 
"What's going on in this town is a mind game," he said. "This is about crime."

The group hopes to call attention to a perspective on the gun control issue at odds with what has been offered by other organizations representing African Americans.

The NAACP strongly supports the proposals working their way through Congress, including an assault weapons ban, a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines, required background checks on all gun purchases and harsher punishments to people who buy guns illegally.

In a statement after the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the NAACP stated it also supports enhanced enforcement by states and federal agencies to keep track of those prohibited from buying firearms.

But Rev. Kenneth Blanchard, a gun rights activist from Upper Marlboro, Md., told the press conference that the government was not adequately enforcing the laws already in place 

“We have a responsibility problem," he said. "Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything and we want to make somebody else our God, which is the ultimate sin.”

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