Rapper Killer Mike, who is once again supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid, says he doesn’t trust candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker who have called for tougher gun laws.
“I don’t trust black leadership that wants to de-arm black people,” Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Render, told Yahoo News at his Atlanta barbershop, the Swag Shop.
Progressive gun control proposals, like those from Booker, D-N.J., and Harris, D-Calif., include ideas like instituting universal background checks on all firearm purchases, requiring a license for all gun owners and an outright ban on assault weapons. Sanders, who had a mixed record on gun control in deference to his mostly rural constituency in Vermont, came out this year in favor of universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
Citing gun violence in his Newark community, Booker, whose plan is considered one of the most extensive, has said he has a personal stake in the issue.
“In my community, kids fear fireworks on the Fourth of July because they sound like gunshots,” Booker told CNN’s Jake Tapper in May. “In communities across the country, from Newark to Charlotte, from San Diego to Chicago, and everywhere in between, Americans are being killed and families are being torn apart. We must do better.”
But Render, a member of the National African American Gun Association and staunch Second Amendment supporter, has advocated for black gun ownership as a civil rights issue. He argued that many of the nation’s problems could have been avoided if guns had been evenly distributed throughout the country at the time of its founding and throughout its history.
“If everyone owned guns from day one, it would have been a lot harder to commit acts like slavery and genocide on Native Americans,” Render said. “If you read the book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel,’ it kind of explains to you, you know, why a lot of the wars indigenous people lost was because people came with superior technology and guns.”
Render’s views on guns are not new.
“Gun laws affect black people first and worst,” Render said while quoting African-American investigative journalist and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells, who documented lynchings of blacks in the late 1890s, and declared “a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”
“They don’t want you to have guns in cities for fear of crime and violence, yet the crime and violence [are] there and the police treat you as though you’re criminally violent,” Render said. “So at what point do you become responsible for one’s one life? At what point are you going to buy a gun, are you going to train, are you going to commit yourself?”
Two-thirds of American gun owners say they do so for protection, according to polling from the Pew Research Center, a sentiment that Render echoes.
“I don’t want to die from a home invasion,” Render told Yahoo News, adding that his perspective is linked to being “a black man from the South.” Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that his home state of Georgia has become one of the top states for firearm deaths in the country in recent years.
“In my household, there are always going to be 10 or more weapons,” Render said. “We’re always going to be trained and proficient with them. And if anyone ever comes down my driveway and decides to exercise what perceived power they have, they will surely go out in the back of an ambulance dead.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Render as a member of the National Rifle Association. Instead, he is a member of the National African American Gun Association. We regret the error.
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