The Atlantic: 2nd Amendment Protections Don’t Apply to Black Citizens

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

On July 7, The Atlantic looked at officer-involved shootings that took the lives of two armed black men, Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge) and Philando Castile (Minneapolis).

Both men were black and both were allegedly armed. The Atlantic seizes on these things to suggest Second Amendment rights don’t apply to black citizens. Yet, even as it makes this argument, The Atlantic at least tacitly admits there are huge differences between the circumstances surrounding Sterling’s death and those surrounding Castile’s.

For starters, The Atlantic reports that, even as Castile reached for his wallet, he “told the officer that he had a concealed-carry permit and a gun.” His girlfriend said, “the officer told him not to move, but as Castile tried to put his hands up, he was shot and killed.”

Sterling, on the other hand, “was a convicted felon,” which The Atlantic surmises as indicating he “probably was not legally permitted to have a gun.” Moreover, they report that “Sterling had allegedly been displaying the gun, which is the reason why police were called.”

Yet The Atlantic argues that “the crucial point is that the police couldn’t have known when they arrived on the scene whether Sterling’s gun was completely legal or not.” They also intimate that they are still a bit cloudy on the details surrounding Castile’s permit, hedging their claims of different treatment for black citizens by explaining that they are “assuming Castile’s permit was valid.”

The bottom line — there are a lot of unknowns, which causes a report written at this point to be based on an assumption or two. (The second assumption is The Atlantic’s quotation of “some activists” who “contend that white men in the same situations would never have been shot.”)

The Atlantic column wraps up by looking at the way the Democrat-run South denied firearms to blacks during the Civil War and the era of reconstruction that followed. It quickly jumps through history to show the status of gun rights today and suggests no change to gun rights — in the form of gun control — will be forthcoming.

The column then ends with this: “As a result, the most relevant question right now is not whether gun laws should change, but whether existing gun laws apply equally to all Americans—and if not, why they don’t.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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