Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I have been in a state of some confusion for the past month.

On July 18th, I had this following exchange with a friend on Facebook:

Friend: U sleep or watching Shark Tank?
Me: Actually, neither. Watching disturbing videos and asking if we need armed revolution.
I did get in a good nap, though 
Friend: Sounds serious
Me: Yeah, I think I just watched a brotha get killed by police. On the street, in broad daylight, for no apparent reason other than that he asked to be left alone.

This is the video:

The question of whether or not we need armed revolution, stirred by the horrific death of Eric Garner, was still at the back of my mind when a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed teen, Mike Brown, on Aug. 9. That killing has since sparked a much larger response than the death of Eric Garner did (indeed, the Eric Garner story has virtually disappeared from the news. Some might see conspiratorial intent there. I blame an increasing inability on the part of Americans to pay attention.). Not only have the streets of Ferguson seen public protests - people outside of Ferguson have expressed solidarity with the protestors, including students at Howard University who posed for this picture that went viral after being posted on Twitter by Megan Sims (@The_Blackness48) on August 14:

When I saw that, I was surprised by my own response.

Here was a photo of scores of college students, who stereotypically are among the most self-involved people on earth, expressing solidarity with protestors halfway across the country, a photo that would likely have inspired me and made me feel proud as recently as July 17. I mean, this photo helped to galvanize support for the citizens of Ferguson, so it's a good thing, right?

But when I saw it, I did not feel inspired or proud. I felt annoyed.

Not, I think (I hope) with the students - but with the whole idea that people should have to protest by displaying powerlessness.

Suddenly, I wanted to see...weapons. Rifles, in particular.

I wanted to see law-abiding American citizens raising, not empty hands, but rifles. I wanted to see law-abiding American citizens, conveying to police a message that said, not, "I'm unarmed, don't shoot," but, "I'm armed; try it if you want to."

I know that unarmed protest and civil disobedience have played a huge role in Black Americans' historical quest for justice. But I am seriously wondering - is it time for more of us to arm ourselves? More specifically, is it time for more of us to arm ourselves, in order to defend ourselves against police? Is it time for more of us to practice open carry - especially our law-abiding young men? (who knows, maybe if more of our law-abiding young men were armed, they could curtail homicides by both demented cops and knucklehead criminals)

I don't know yet what to do with these thoughts, other than to acknowledge them. I don't yet know who else is having similar thoughts. I should do a search; I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I need to work this through; it may make a huge difference in how I live the remainder of my life.

Of course, simply contemplating the arming of law-abiding citizens is a far cry from saying that we need armed revolution. As the Founders wrote, that option only comes into play when citizens note that "a whole train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism." And we don't have that happening in America, right?

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