Posted on February 3, 2021

Guns Are White Supremacy’s Deadliest Weapon. We Must Disarm Hate.

Sharon Risher, Washington Post, January 31, 2021

The defining photograph of the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 was that of a man strolling through the broken halls of our national Capitol, amid the smashed windows and assorted rubble of the failed coup, proudly brandishing a Confederate flag on his shoulder and hoping to overturn an election decided largely by Black voters. {snip}

For me, the echoes of that picture reverberated back nearly six years, to the day my mom — Ethel Lee Lance — was shot and killed while praying in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church along with eight other Black Americans, including two of my cousins and one of my close childhood friends. In the months leading up to that tragic day, my mom’s killer posed for pictures with the Confederate flag, sometimes even slinging it over his shoulder just like that insurrectionist in the Capitol did.

The similarities between these two days don’t end there: Both days ended in deaths, both attacks were perpetrated (at least in part) by white supremacists chasing a lost cause, and tragically, the perpetrators of both incidents were carrying more than just flags. My mother’s killer was armed with a handgun; the Capitol insurrectionists were armed with enough live ammunition to shoot every member of the House and Senate five times.

This deadly connection between white supremacy and guns runs throughout our history. {snip}

Simply put, if the Confederate flag is the primary symbol of white-supremacist hate, the gun is its deadliest weapon.

We have begun, as a nation, to slowly address the problem of the Confederate battle flag. NASCAR recently banned it from events, Mississippi recently removed it from the state’s flag, and more prohibitions are hopefully on the horizon. {snip}

But the truth is that taking down symbols of hate means very little unless we also disarm people who are inspired by them — and on that front, our nation has lagged woefully behind. {snip}

So I share my story today, alongside other members of the Everytown Survivor Network, during National Gun Violence Survivors Week, to ask that as we reckon with hate in America, we also take action to disarm it.