January 17, 2013 at 7:55 am / by Special Contributor
By Joël Valenzuela
Guns: who needs ’em? Should citizenry be permitted to own military-style assault weapons? Should they have guns at all? These are the questions furiously circulating around the public policy world in the wake of several recent shootings, the most notorious of which involved a preschool in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
But there’s a much more important question that needs to be asked, namely: If the average citizen is disarmed, who will suffer the most? The answer: minorities and women. Case in point:Django Unchained, a modern spaghetti western set in the pre-Civil War South. Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to inadvertently address a point much beyond the obvious, heavy-handed anti-slavery narrative.
Django Unchained follows the epic transformative journey of Django (played by the magnetic Jamie Foxx), a freed-slave-turned-bounty-hunter on a quest across the American South to free his captive wife. He and his German immigrant liberator/partner work as bounty hunters, hopping from plantation to plantation, ferreting out (and terminating) fugitives from the law. All the while, they must face the strong taboo of a free, armed black man riding a horse with pride, speaking his mind without fear. The story takes them to the plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a vicious slave owner who holds Django’s wife captive. After attempting to free her through negotiation, the bounty hunter duo ends up in a brutal firefight. It is then that Django fully grows into his role as an avenging angel of his oppressed kin, a six-shooter in the place of a flaming sword.
While the obvious takeaway from Django would be black empowerment or the evil of slavery, there is another, more pertinent lesson to be learned: the importance of firearms ownership by disadvantaged minorities.
Let’s be clear about one thing: slavery was only possible through force. Black Americans remained enslaved solely through the constant threat of violence, and the chronic inability to defend themselves. Even after obtaining freedom, the black community had to deal with racially-motivated gun control laws
. These were meant specifically to disarm them, leaving them helpless and at the mercy of myriad forms of violence and oppression, such as lynch mobs.
The racial effects of gun control continue to this day, although in a less-overt fashion. Cities with strong firearms restrictions, such as Chicago and the District of Columbia, also happen to have sky-high murder rates
, which disproportionately affect the poor, many of whom are minorities. The decision then boils down to either remaining defenseless or breaking the law. Either path, whether of a criminal or victim, is highly disenfranchising, and disproportionately affects the black community. Free up firearms restrictions, and you make a successful, law-abiding life all the easier.
A trusty gun is the ultimate anti-oppression tool, a point Django Unchained drives home. As the old saying goes, “God may have made men, but Samuel Colt made them equal.” Here’s to equality.
Joel Valenzuela is the Editor of Latino News Today. He previously worked for the Goldwater Institute, the Cato Institute, the Leadership Institute, and the White House under George W. Bush. Follow him on twitter @TheDesertLynx