Thank You Charles Cotton

Dear Charles Cotton,

Thank you for choosing to directly involve yourself in the debate over gun control through the National Rifle Association. By doing so, you have exhibited an amount of determination and resolve not found by many. For this, I am sure you are well-pleased with yourself and what you have accomplished. Although you do hold a seemingly important ambition relative to those focused solely on the gun control debate, there is another aspect of this debate which you have missed completely. Furthermore, it is one that you may never fully understand, as you most likely have not dealt with its historic and systemic consequences. Individuals such as Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Nicholas Thomas, Trayvon Martin, and countless others have fallen victim to this aspect you know so little about, because they were faced with circumstances and obstacles set in place for them solely because of their race. The majority of the lives of these Black individuals were taken by guns. Guns by definition are “weapon[s] incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.” However, over the course of a few years, they have incorporated the following unofficial definition: a deadly weapon symbolic for its representation of the precarity of lives-more specifically, the precarity of Black lives. It proves unfortunate and increasingly unacceptable that a weapon meant for self-defense has repeatedly been used against those who have posed no threat-aside from the one that is wrongly perceived: their race.

Recently, you chose to override the impact race has on people of color with your statements regarding the innocent lives that were taken in the Charleston Massacre, specifically that of Reverend Clementa Pickney:

“Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead… Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

By misusing your White privilege in your ability to make such statements, you have only proven how ignorant, falsely opinionated, and misinformed you sincerely are. The manner in which their lives were taken, and the reasoning for this matter-both committed by Dylann Roof-point to the injustices and prejudices which encompass race issues. Furthermore, these things only demonstrate the need for them to be completely understood and comprehended-specifically by those who directly benefit from them. The statements you made were indecent, and reflective of your inability to see past the situation and deeper into the racial dilemma at hand. Aside from your insensitive comments mentioned previously, you also stated, “It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.” What you have failed to realize is that although guns may play a part in preventing violence, they only bring about additional unneeded violence and fail in preventing the thoughts, opinions, and motives behind their usage. Guns transcend politics and will not cure the disease of racism and prejudice, they will never erase the negative and unforgiving aspects of racial injustice and ignorance-and while in the hands of those who use it to spur their hatred of Black lives, will continue to take them away.


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