Light Over Heat #21: Talking Guns and Race Post-Buffalo

This week I was supposed to post a video commemorating the 20th consecutive weekly episode of “Light Over Heat”. But the dark side of life intervened in the form of a white supremacist mass murder in Buffalo, New York.

So I quickly recorded some thoughts on guns and race. This is a first word not a last word on the topic, but I felt compelled to put my thoughts out there as I have seen so many perspectives that I think miss the reality of guns in America (typically those on the left) AND the reality of racism in America (typically those on the right).

So, here I try to find the via media and bring some light over heat to an important and controversial issue.

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8 thoughts on “Light Over Heat #21: Talking Guns and Race Post-Buffalo

  1. I love it how the general White public just now notices the pain of being a Black Buffalo resident now that their sensitivities are offended by a racist mass murderer (David, I’ve seen some of his 180 page Replacement Theory based rant–yep, this was all about race).

    I was a kid in that neighborhood. We lived over on Johnson Street, where my step-grandparents owned a home and worked at the old Rich’s Ice Cream factory. Nice blue collar jobs. I went to School #39 on High Street. Jefferson Ave, the big arterial where that now infamous Topps Market now sits up to the north, was about four blocks away. It was a bit of a rough neighborhood back then but solidly working class. My best friend, Michael, lived across the street. His dad was a city cop.

    Buffalo has been on a downward, violent spiral since the sixties and not due to lunatic fringe racists but to good old fashioned mainstream values of neglect. I was back in Buffalo about five years ago to make a major donation to the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Bistany Telescope. As my wife said, the east side where I was a kid looked like a scene out of an apartheid city in old apartheid South Africa. The house I lived in was missing. It was arsoned decades ago. Empty lots are as common as homes.

    Politics, economics, and policy are what control civil peace vs. violence although it’s easy to focus on racists and guns. A century or more of racism and economic apartheid in Buffalo is why people disproportionately die in Buffalo, most of which is local on local crime. An occasional racist shoots up the place and everyone notices. But sixty years of homes being torched, work moving overseas, white flight (including my parents) the legacy of racist urban planning such as how the Kensington Expressway was rammed through the old Black neighborhoods (it cut off my walk to school as well as the community’s access to Buffalo’s beautiful parks), and money moving to the rich…well, that’s business as usual. A slow moving economic pandemic goes unnoticed. East Buffalo is full of empty lots. The West Side (where I also lived for a little while) is full of multimillion dollar mansions being renovated and flipped. That’s the “Buffalo Renaissance”.

    Strong Towns founder Charles Marohn, a PE and urban planner, made a very powerful case for reparations, looking at what redlining did to Kansas City. I suspect if one looked at the history of wealth distribution in Buffalo, one could ask whether past racism and its legacy effects have similarly made a case for redistribution in Buffalo. Most inner city violence is internal, this mass shooting being an exception. As a retired ER doctor I know, Dr. Jim Webster, recently opined, the only thing that stops a bullet is a good job. I might add good schools and social equity.

    So while it is easy to focus on white supremacists, AR-15’s (the gunman’s was bought as NYS-legal and illegally modified) and terrorists being the root of all evil, it’s everyday American values of apartheid and neglect that have led to so many dying in Buffalo, not to mention other places. I actually think Critical Race Theory has a good point. To fix what is broken, we have to not just change out a few spark plugs on the economic engine, but overhaul the whole concept of the engine. Taking away the guns, as some politicians are once again demanding, will not take away the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also lived in Buffalo, about a mile from that Tops Market. I’ve shopped there many years ago.

      Skipping over the gun culture aspect, Buffalo is a segregated city, ingrained old-school racism that becomes almost a joke to residents (the Cheektowaga Racist Stripper highlights the dark humor). I’m planning a novel set in modern Buffalo which has characters of different races and backgrounds, and how they deal with racism and each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My perspective on gun culture originated from a liberal New York City upbringing: no one in my family owned guns, and I was “indoctrinated” into the anti-gun world.

    I have expanded my perspective since then, understanding the limitations and failures of the anti-gun debate, but I’m also used to arguing with pro-gun people, who challenge any criticism of gun culture as an attack on their freedoms.

    Gun culture is appreciated in some areas, scorned in others. A current meme is the Christmas family cards where they are all holding firearms, primarily AR-15’s, and how that’s the real “Grooming”. In the Bay Area, that holiday card could be grounds for school suspensions and police visits.

    But not lost on liberals is that every member of these gun-toting families are white. Are they conservative? Definitely, since these cards were created by Republican leaders. But is there an implication of white supremacy?

    It’s a complicated discussion about white people and racism. I couldn’t encapsulate it in 5 sentences or 50. But inclusion is hardly a conservative value, despite whatever crafted rhetoric is offered. Just look at any gathering of conservatives to get your answer.

    So is gun culture a conservative thing? Despite notable exceptions, I’d say so. Take the Liberal Tears Gun Oil for example. Conservatives have to discuss racism and white supremacy in a different manner they are now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gun culture is still predominately a conservative thing, but as David has pointed out, increasingly, non-conservatives (Liberal Gun Club, there is another one with the pride flag as its symbol, etc) are joining the club and I’ve not seen any sign of rejection. In fact, I think today’s gun culture feels so stigmatized that it accepts all comers as allies, Groucho Marx’s quote notwithstanding.

      But I’m not a sociologist and don’t play one on TV. That’s David’s gig.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In Dr Yamane’s “Concealed Carry Revolution,” Updated Edition, on page 11 of my Kindle Edition, he references, “disgraced historian Michael Belleville.” That should be Michael Bellisales, not Belleville.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much for noting this! I’m extremely disappointed that in going from the original to the updated version that this got changed (it was correct in the original). If/when I push out a revised updated text (necessary with all of the additional permitless carry states as well as the pending Bruen decision), I will make the correction.

        Like

  4. Pingback: Light Over Heat #23: The Benefits of Intellectual Diversity and the Challenge of Achieving It | Gun Curious

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