There are a lot of guns in the places that I live and have lived. There is a lot of gun violence. It has shaped the way that I move through the world. For example, I don’t like to live on first floors because that is where stray bullets go. Because I once had to live for a week with a chalk outline of a body right next to my first floor window. I was in middle school. I did not sleep that week.
I have personally witnessed more people being shot and injured or killed than I can remember. In the last calendar year two people were shot in front of the house where I lived in Baltimore. During my transition from Baltimore to Boston I lived in DC for a couple of weeks. While I was there two people were shot in front of the house where I was staying. I was sitting at the window people watching when happened. I watched them shoot each other. I spent the next week with the curtains drawn. Not answering the door when the police came and police came and police knocked every night, multiple times a night. This was the same week that George Floyd was murdered by the police. Breonna Taylor, who was murdered by the police in her own home was heavy on my mind. I do not have the words to describe what it feels like to feel unsafe everywhere, even and especially in your home. When you look at the ways that gun violence impacts Black women in particular a common theme is that we are murdered in our homes. By partners or by police. It is wild. WILD.
I say all of that to provide context for my next statement. I am pro-gun. Guns are weapons, they are tools. Guns themselves are neutral. It is what we do with the tools that gives the meaning and purpose. I have a deep respect for tools. I depend on tools for my work and well-being. With any tool, before I use it, it is important for me to understand how it works. How to care for it. How to safely use it and how to protect myself while using it. I am surrounded by guns and I know nothing about them. This lack of knowledge is a liability as long as anyone has one.
The group of people whose guns worry me the most are the police and white supremacists, who are in fact the founders of the police. Most gun violence is interpersonal. The people doing the shooting know the people being shot. Every kid raised in the hood knows this. Yes, there are exceptions. They are exceptions. Police gun violence, white supremacists gun violence, government gun violence, war is it personal in a different way.
It is an “I don’t know you, I know you were not like me, and anyone who is not like me as a threat to me and the existing order” kind of personal. As long as those people have guns and the government has guns we need to have guns then we need to know how to use them.
I chose this image for this post as a reminder of the ways of the powers that be have used differential access to guns – i.e. the government or colonizer has them we don’t – to destroy communities and cultures. I’m not trying to go down like that.
Gun training is expensive as fuck. Licensure can be expensive. There are bills in congress right now that are designed to create more barriers and put up more paywalls to prevent people from owning guns. These barriers and expenses support differential access. Differential access, as I have said before, is a dynamic that is a threat to our communities.
Today I’m asking you to support my work by either paying for me to get basic done training or donating your time and expertise to teach me.
*For my birthday this year I’m asking you to celebrate with me by supporting my joy, my work and my communities. Each day I’ll be sharing one simple thing that you can do to support me in each of these areas.