They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows, but that’s something of an understatement when it comes to the politics of gun violence. I’m referring to a letter written by Niger Innis, National Spokesman of CORE, supporting a bill that would authorize concealed-carry on Florida college campuses. The law was stalled in the Florida legislature earlier this year, but appears primed to go forward again. Tallahassee has been called the NRA’s laboratory for developing legislation making it easier for people to own and carry guns, and if the NRA succeeds in pushing through the law allowing guns on college campuses in Florida, no doubt college-CCW statutes will spread to other states as well.
If you honestly believe that the effort to legalize guns on campus is anything more than a cynical attempt by the NRA and its sycophantic noise-makers to promote gun sales among the up-and-coming generation, you should be laying brick. Either the gun industry figures out how to generate more product enthusiasm among members of the millennial generation, or they’re going to be in for some rough times when all those older, white male gun owners (like me) fade away.
Ditto when it comes to minorities who also show a marked disinclination to get involved with guns. Hence the letter from Niger Innis, whose father, Roy Innis, is still the National Chairman of CORE and also happens to be a member of the NRA Board. Roy also chairs something called the NRA Urban Affairs Committee, although I can’t recall any statement ever issued by this committee about urban affairs or anything else.
When Innis became active in CORE, the organization was one of the major civil rights groups, along with NAACP and SCLC, that championed civil rights campaigns in the North and the South. Initially hewing to the liberal, pro-integration stance of the civil rights movement in general, CORE began to veer rightward after 1968, and under Innis’ control, adopted a mixture of nationalist economic and social positions, along with increasingly embracing conservative political ideas. The organization today seems largely to be a vehicle for employing Roy and Innis Niger, who spend most of their time appearing before various legislative and political confabs where either law or custom require representation from all sides.
I can’t think of a single other, public individual besides Roy Innis who has lost family members to gun violence and yet promotes the ownership and use of guns. In fact, two of Innis’ sons were shot to death, the first in 1968 and the second in 1982. Neither crime was ever solved, but the experience evidently transformed Innis into a staunch supporter of guns rights and an advocate of arming the African-American community as a response to crime.
If Innis father and son want to posture as supporters of gun rights, the least they could do is support their arguments with statements that align with facts. Niger’s letter argues that guns on campus would be particularly important as a means for women to defend themselves against sexual assaults, a crime which Innis claims has increased by 50% on college campuses over the last decade. Actually, what has increased is the reportage of assaults as colleges have struggled to bring this issue into the open. But then Innis goes on to make the following statement: “Federal studies indicate that where potential rape victims use weapons to resist the rape attempt, the rape is rarely if ever completed.”
The only Federal ‘study’ that I know which deals with how women protect themselves from sexual assaults and crimes in general is the annual report published by the National Crime Victimization Survey. Hemenway and Solnick studied the NCVS data covering 2007-2011 and found that, “there were no reported cases of self-defense gun use in the more than 300 cases of sexual assault.” Way to go, Niger. There’s nothing like voicing an opinion at total variance with the facts. But who cares about facts when you have a Constitutional right to defend yourself with a gun?