The full episode transcript is below.
Tandria Potts 0:00
Hello everyone. If this is your first time listening or you are a regular Be the Bridge podcast listener, you’re in for a treat. Today’s conversation is a part of a series of conversations we call, Take it to the Bridge. In our Take it to the Bridge series, we do a deeper dive into societal and cultural issues. Our intent is to expose our listeners to opportunities for the reassessment of their own values and perspectives. In other words, listening, learning, leveraging, and lamenting. Without further ado, let’s jump into this special Take it to the Bridge episode of the Be the Bridge podcast.
You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:44
[into] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:55
[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.
Latasha Morrison 1:29
Okay, Be the Bridge community. Family, I have a treat for you today. I had to lean into some of my friends and colleagues that are part of the Be the Bridge community and team and staff that actually have been with me since the beginning. (laughter) I have Elizabeth here and Gina, I’m gonna let them introduce themselves. But we’re gonna be talking about something, for many of you, it may be a little uncomfortable, because it is controversial. But it’s something that I want to understand in a deeper way. And so I always like to go back to the beginning, to the root, to the history. And we talk about that. You know? In order to understand the present, we have to understand the history. And that’s why it’s important that we do not erase history. We don’t have to edify history, we don’t have to put history on display in a memorial, but history has its place for us to understand what is happening today. And as it relates to the conversation that we are having on guns and gun violence, I wanted to really look at the big picture and a good starting place for this conversation. So I’m gonna let just Elizabeth introduce herself and Gina, and we’re gonna really have a conversation of friends talking. We’re gonna model this and how we would in a Be the Bridge group. And we just want to hopefully from this conversation, you can get a deeper understanding of the history of guns and how, in a lot of this, there’s white supremacy behind the the increase of gun and gun manufacturing in America, and what can we do about it? This is not a podcast against guns at all. A lot of us own guns. But we’re talking about making sure that we make healthy conversations, healthy decisions about gun ownership. And so we’re not going to get into the details of that. But I do believe that military style weapons, that any citizen should not have them. This is for protection for our military and also for our police officers when they’re outgunned and out manned when they come into situations. So we may hit on that a little bit because I just said it and it may need to be a part of the conversation. So I want you guys to introduce yourself and then we’re going to jump in. Okay?
Elizabeth Behrens 4:26
Thanks so much, Tasha. My name is Elizabeth and I live in Kansas City with my husband and four kids. And I have been with Be the Bridge since before it was Be the Bridge. Since before we actually got incorporated here. Now we just celebrated our sixth birthday. But I used to do a lot of the online community management work, but now I largely work with the training program. I create content and teach fellow white people who are wanting to understand how in the world do we get to where we can engage bridge building in a healthy and educated way, especially for a lot of us who grew up without really getting to have open conversations or understand what’s going on around us. So I’m looking forward to this conversation today. I think there’s a lot of history here that can shape how we make sense of the current gun debate. And I have found through educating thousands of white people over the years that when we’re able to apply that lens of history, we’re able to really shift our perspective and make some more informed decisions.
Gina Fimbel 5:34
Awesome. Well, my name is Gina Fimbel. And I have also been with Be the Bridge since the beginning, even before it was an official 501c3 nonprofit organization. Elizabeth and I actually have a lot of similarities. We both educate white people. We both work in the training department. And so, yeah, I’m looking forward to this conversation. I think it’s been a heavy, gosh a heavy few years. Right? But even in our recent past, in the past few weeks, we see the ways that gun violence is just ripping at the fabric and the soul of our country. And so I think we have to take a pause. And so I’m glad we’re talking about this, Tasha.
Latasha Morrison 6:19
Great. And you know, one of the things that we like to do in Be the Bridge is we don’t want to kind of look downstream and see and try to provide solutions from downstream. We always want to look upstream and beyond to see what is the cause of this problem. How do we prevent this problem? And how do we remain proactive? And so that’s one of the things. And what we found now is when people are given information, factual information, when people are given data and history and context around things, we see people make better decisions. And I think that’s some of the pushback where sometimes there are people that are empowered that try to keep information from us, or try to create fear around information and history so that we don’t know that for truth, because they do know that people will probably make better decisions for that. And we saw that, you know, just in a lot of things that happened in 2020. We saw the needle moving. We saw hearts shifting, minds changing. And that created a lot of fear for a lot of people. And so I think we’re here again with this conversation. And I’m gonna get, I actually want to get, Elizabeth, you to start us out. Because one of the things that I was thinking when I, you know, I’m always about solutions and how do we be proactive. I’m not about following something when it’s in the headlines or when everyone is talking about it. Because when everyone is gone, those families are still hurting, those families are still recovering, people are still trying to put the pieces together, families would never be the same again. And then I’m also trying to think of, you know, just in the recent issues we’ve had in Buffalo, Uvalde, Dallas, and I think it was in California, like, just with all these issues, families will never be the same. And then to see just the double down of, “There’s nothing we can do.” To me that is just, I was just left really speechless. That the loss of life. Guns have more value than the value of people. And that’s when I know that, you know, guns, people idolize them. And even seeing Christians idolize them. Seeing signs like “God, guns, and country.” You know, just and Christians touting that. And so that’s a whole nother conversation that we’ll have later on about white nationalism. But, when I’m left perplexed at the just the heart position of our country, of brothers and sisters, I think it opens the door to have a deeper conversation. And so we want to have a deeper conversation. So I always kind of like to connect the dots. And you know, and I’m seeing this. I saw a post with an African American guy and he said, “I have guns and I’m willing to to lay down as many guns as they recall if needed.” He said, “The only reason why I have guns is because I don’t understand why white people are buying so many guns.” And he said, “I’m going to continue to buy guns, because I don’t know what they’re preparing for. And so I want to be prepared. What are we preparing for?” You know? And he said, “But I don’t believe in like guns.” And in talking with a lot of African Americans they feel the same way. And I’m not speaking for all of African Americans, I’m talking about just friends that I’ve had conversations with that, you know, everybody feels like, okay, gun is a protection. That’s one thing. But killing machines, like, that’s a whole nother thing.
And for me, when my father passed, I inherited a gun. And I decided to keep that gun. But I’m just gonna be honest, deep inside of me, it’s for, I say, for protection. But it’s also like, okay, so why is this, why is everyone infatuated with all these guns? And so, you know, it’s like, is everyone planning for an apocalypse or something? And, you know, and I found myself having those same thoughts, also. And so I wanted us to talk about it. And I was like, why? And it’s not to say there are, you know, there are people of color that are part of the NRA. But we do understand that the NRA responds differently to white people who are gun owners than people of color. We saw that with Philando Castile. You know? He was a licensed gun owner and was shot when he was telling the people that he had it. Doing everything that he was supposed to do. And never a word was spoken to him. And we can name several situations. So there is like a racial lens through all of this. And I want us to kind of talk about that. So people like myself, who are trying to understand this, so that we can have all the information and really understand the history of something. Because a lot of times we don’t understand the history of something. And then when we understand that we’re like, “Oh, now that I’ve been given the context, I understand. And you know what? I choose not to take part in this.” So that could change minds when we talk about this. So Elizabeth, help us to understand this big picture. Elizabeth is a researcher. She is known also as the professor around here. Both of these women, when I need something researched or something documented, these are two women that I can call on, and they will have it. Pages of information.
Elizabeth Behrens 13:00
Pages and pages.
Latasha Morrison 13:01
Scholarly documents ready. (laughter) And so Elizabeth, can you just kick us off?
Elizabeth Behrens 13:08
Yeah, absolutely. So I think what’s really helpful to understand is to actually go way back to the founding of our country. You know, when the Constitution was written and ratified, part of the way that the South agreed to ratify the Constitution as it was, because there were these factions. Well, there was lots of factions, but the main ones were Federalists and anti-Federalists, people who were pro a strong federal government and people who said, “No, this needs to be left up to the states. We need to really focus on states rights and have a very weak central federal government.” And it was the South that wanted that weak federal government because they realized that around the past, that around the ratification of the Constitution, some of the colonies that were becoming states were starting to abolish slavery within their boundaries. And so, there was fear that if there was a strong federal government, they would be able to have a say in the slave owning in the South. And the South didn’t want to give up their enslaved population. You know, within the first 100 years of the U.S. being a country, over half of South Carolina’s population were enslaved Africans. So we’re talking about a really large population of enslaved people. So they were very focused on letting the states continue to have the rights to enact whatever laws and policies they needed to to maintain control of that enslaved population that was regularly participating in uprisings. There was an active Underground Railroad. There was a lot of fighting back against slavery by the enslaved. And so part of that was the southern states realized really the advantage they had over the enslaved, the way that they could keep them enslaved was through gun ownership, was through the use of violence. And so gun ownership was pushed in the South. It was also pushed in the West where there was a, you know, the federal government was giving away land to white men, as long as they would stay living on it and keep the Native population off of that land. And again, the way to do that was through gun ownership. It was through violence. And so when we’re trying to get the Constitution ratified, part of how we got the South to agree to that was that Madison promised that a bill of rights would be the first thing that Congress did. And part of that Bill of Rights would include the Second Amendment. So the Second Amendment at its core originally was included to appease the South. To say, “We’re going to let you arm yourselves. We’re even going to include this concept of the militia.” Which the militia was, at that time was largely about squelching enslaved people from uprising, as well as participating in fugitive slave capture. So really the role of the militia was all about control of the enslaved. So really, at its heart, the Second Amendment is about anti-blackness, it’s about white supremacy. That was why it was put into the Constitution to begin with was to maintain control of the enslaved population, as well as to be able to continue to take away land and rights from Native American people, and make sure that those rights stayed with the…that this would become a white nation where white people have the power and the control. And that power and control was going to be achieved through weaponry, through the ability to enact violence on other populations.
Latasha Morrison 16:52
Wow. And so I know some of you are listening and your saying, okay, and really honestly, everything goes back to slavery because of how this country was founded. We have amendments that, basically, have to say that I am not three fifths of a person. You know? All the rules, all the regulations, there are so many things that came into play in how we function as a government now, how the Congress functions, how the Senate functions. A lot of this comes out of our history of slavery, and we have not changed those systems. So we have a lot of broken systems that we’ve built a nation on. And we didn’t go back and restore and bring redemption to a lot of those. We’ve made some amendments or we created acts, but we haven’t even put things in place that can permanently change, you know, laws and the way we think. And so I think that’s important to the conversation. Thank you for that history. And maybe even for some of the show notes, we can put some of this research in there. So if people want to take a deeper dive…
Elizabeth Behrens 18:05
Latasha Morrison 18:05
…deeper dive into some books and some different things like that. Gina, I would love to hear you add, before we start talking about some of the themes, I would love to hear you add, just add into some of this what Elizabeth was talking about. And you know, maybe just some of your personal history. I know growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, I was just hearing from a friend of mine that grew up in Alabama and Arkansas, and you know, it’s just these…You know with Be the Bridge, we like to say the things that are unsaid. And let’s really pull the covers back on truth and get down to it. And basically, the thing she said in her family, it was like, “You got to own the guns, you got to have guns to protect your land, because really Black people are going to uprise against us. And we have to be able to protect our land because they’re going to come and take and steal our land.” And so when we think about that, especially after the Civil War, there was this fear in the South that there was going to be vengeance. But you know, besides the slave revolts, where people were fighting for their freedom and their choice and their God given dignity, which was a justified revolt against a system of oppression. The one thing that you have never seen in this country, especially specifically from African Americans, is this act of collective vengeance against white people. We wanted to be free and left alone. And still today that is the sense of give us equity and equality. Everything you get, let us get it. And create systems where we all flourish. And leave us be. Nobody is trying to take your land and your, you know. You know what I’m saying? No one is seeking vengeance, but there’s this fear. And we see this even in our partisanship today and a lot of things. This whole replacement theory, that people are going to replace you, or people are coming, and they’re going to outnumber you. And it goes down to, it comes back to power. And so, we haven’t seen that. So I think, you know, in her expelling, just exposing what her family really thought in the sense of why they owned guns and why they were buying all the guns. It’s like they were preparing for some type of race war. Yyou know, it’s those things that’s spoken inside of family, but not necessarily you would never verbalize that outward. Did you experience some of that too growing up? Or, you know, any of that?
Gina Fimbel 21:13
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, as you mentioned, I grew up in Appalachia, the heart of Appalachia. And there’s definitely an ideology of God, guns, and country. There’s a lot of hunting where I grew up. But I love this conversation, because the more that I have researched, the more that I have read, I see the ways that gun ownership is tied to colonization and our violent history. Guns were definitely a tool of colonialism. And you mentioned the Haitian Revolution. My daughter is adopted from Haiti. And so part of my work has been to really understand the history of Haiti. And I have been so surprised by how much Haiti is actually connected to our history. And the reason why is because the Haitian revolution of the enslaved people played a central role in the liberation of Latin America from slavery. And so those in power in America really wanted to, in the United States of America, what we now know as the United States of America, they wanted to silence that Haitian Revolution. They wanted to because they were fearful. So there was an act of silencing of the Haitian Revolution. And Europeans really became masters at what we would call the art of killing at a distance. And they’re able to do this through sophisticated weaponry, through the industrial development of firearms. I mean, that played a very important role in colonization. And so, you know, when you think about men or women at war with each other, killing becomes so impersonal. And so, you know, it’s just, you’re not looking someone in the eye before you take their life. Right? And so, you know, non Europeans didn’t have access to industrial manufactured steel that was needed for sophisticated weaponry. And so the fact that enslaved people were able to liberate themselves from the tyranny in Haiti was astounding. Right? And so the ripple effect of that across the world was evident. And we, the ruling class in America was just very scared of that. And so even our history. You know, sometimes I just think, do we even want a common history? Right? Like Haiti’s history is actually very relevant to United States history. You know, yes. So I think that, for me, in terms of, personally, I just remember, my boys were in the first grade at the time of Sandy Hook Elementary School. And in approximately four minutes the shooter shot 154 bullets, he killed 20 children and six educators. He used a military style weapon for that. And it just felt at that time, I mean, I was raging, I was crying. I saw my sons in those kids. If we weren’t going to, if we didn’t do anything then, are we going to do something now? Right? We have to understand that our thoughts and prayers are not enough. And so I don’t think that violence is acceptable in any form. And what we know is that more guns does not equal more safety. In fact, more guns typically shows us that we’re less safe. You know, I believe that Black people and Latino people and people of color in this country have a right to live and be free and to go to the grocery store without losing their lives. Right? We have a man, Michael, or I’m sorry, John Crawford, I believe was his name. He was a 22 year old African American young man who went to buy a BB gun in Walmart, was seen by an off duty police officer and was executed in Walmart. And so we have to wrestle with who do we tag? You know, who do we say that it’s acceptable to carry a gun? A lot of times for white people, we look at them as patriots. We see people of color carrying a gun and they’re tagged as criminal. And so we just have to have these tough conversations. I realized that I’ve given a lot of information, hopefully that some food for conversation.
Latasha Morrison 26:08
That was good. Because getting back to that conversation, you know, just you mentioned John Crawford. And I think that was in, we can correct this, but I want to say it was in Ohio. But that I think he was an open carry state. And I also want to, and he was killed within seconds of having the gun while he was like on the phone. And so and I don’t think the officer was ever held responsible for that. But we can look at the details of that. But we’re saying there’s a different America that Brown people live in, Black and Brown people live in, than what white people live in. And so one of the things we wanted to see how this conversation has been shaped. And really, the system of whiteness is really shaping this conversation. And, you know, a lot of times, we want to…I wish there was a day when we didn’t have to discuss these systems, but they play a major role. And so we do not take a colorblind position to this conversation, because this country is not colorblind – not in the policies, not in the laws, not within the Constitution, not in anything is this country colorblind. And so, you know, so a lot of times as Christians, we want to say, you know, “There’s one race.” But hopefully we can get there one day. But right now, as it relates to the racialized society we live in, that is not a truth. And, and so we have to speak into this truth. And one of the things that, the themes we talked about in how this conversation is being shaped, I wanted to talk about, especially these first two we have written down, you know, both historically and presently, who should most want to be protected? Like when we look at the history of this country, and we see what has been done to Asian Americans, you know, especially Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans, when we look at what has been done to African Americans, when we look at what has been done to Natives. If any, listen. We should be the ones. (laughter) We should be the ones, when we talk about, you know, being afraid of vengeance. Well, we see that happening. We see vengeance being taken out on us through policies, through rage, through anytime there’s some advancement as it relates to equity and equality. We see that up rooted within policies like normally the very next term. We see actual vengeance being taken out on us as it relates to knowing our history, you know, talking about our history, people wanting to erase our history and act like we’re not a part of American history. We see these things happening all the time. And if anyone should really be arming themselves, it should be the Brown and Black people in this country. You know? But yet, you know, we see here that it’s majority white men that are buying a majority of the guns. And so let’s talk about that. I want to talk about that. And I want to talk about this whole good, bad binary, that really makes no sense. Because we’ve seen that played out in several incidents where there were some good people with guns and they were murdered also.
Elizabeth Behrens 29:50
Right, right. So you know and that can, this idea of like, who really deserves and needs protection and who’s actually inciting vengeance. If people want to go down a research rabbit hole, we can look into things like during Reconstruction Era what laws were passed surrounding gun ownership. I mean, in Florida during the Reconstruction era, there was actually, laws were passed that white militias could at will raid the homes of Black people and confiscate any weapons they could find. Because again, gun ownership was seen as a threat. Even after emancipation gun ownership continued to be seen as a threat. Because there was this ongoing fear. Because in opposition to the idea that people were just a product of their time, and that’s why they were okay with slavery. They were okay with slavery, because it made them a lot of money. And because they had white supremacist views, not because they were a product of their time. They knew post emancipation, that the amount of vengeance that was deserved, could be enacted if the Black population was armed. And so there were things like the Black codes and such passed to make sure that that didn’t happen. And the big key for that, too, was we know that during Reconstruction the federal government did some enforcement in the South to try to reconstruct this country, to try to put this country back together. And so when we think of sometimes we think of, I think the image that comes to mind to people is white federal soldiers in the South, but there were actually Black federal soldiers in the South. And that really didn’t go over well for white people. Because not only was it Black people with guns, but it was Black people with guns and authority. And so that was not going to go over well. And so most states engaged either in just, they would first try to diplomatically have those regiments removed because we had segregated regiments. And when that didn’t work, enacted just horrendous violence against those, against U.S. soldiers. There was not this sense of patriotism when it came to anti-blackness. Patriotism went very quickly out the window when it came to supporting our troops when our troops were Black. But that idea, that need for for gun ownership just didn’t go away and really continued to be pushed during the Civil Rights Movement. I mean, even during the, you know, the era of terror, as we call it, the post Reconstruction, pre Civil Rights era where there were thousands of lynchings happening around the country, there was a big push. It was, I mean, even Ida B. Wells, as quoted as saying that Black people needed to acquire a gun to, you know, give themselves the protection the government refuses to give. And so the problem was, though, that that didn’t actually give them safety, it actually put an additional target on their back. Being known as a gun owner in your area could mean that the Klan ended up at your door, that you or your family ended up lynched. Because there was a need for control, there was a need for power and guns were still seen as the way to acquire that. And so this idea of, you know, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That was not at all the narrative, when it came to the fact that, you know, white nationalists, which was the bulk of the population, honestly, were happy to be the bad guys with the guns and to keep Black people who were, they were seen as bad guys, not because of anything they had done, but because of the color of their skin. And so that narrative even comes from that. That it was a good guy with a gun literally meant a white guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun meant a Black person with a gun. And so that narrative was pushed from that time and it’s continued on even as we have stripped the racial terminology out of it, we haven’t stripped the ideology from it at the same time. And so we can even see how, as recent as, there were actually two cases in 2018. One was Jamel Roberson who was a security officer. I mean, he even had like, you know, the navy uniform with like the word security written in like yellow or bright green on the back or something. There was a shooting event at a mall where he was working and he tackled the shooter. You know, he was an armed security guard. He tackles the shooter, subdues him so that no one else gets hurt, and police arrive on the scene and they murdered him in cold blood. With his security uniform on while he still has the shooter who was an active shooter pinned to the ground, the police kill the Black security officer because, you know, they arrived on the scene and it didn’t matter. This whole like who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy goes all the way back to where that ideology started. Right? It wasn’t about who was a good guy or a bad guy, it was who was the Black guy in the situation with a gun, he had to be disarmed.
Latasha Morrison 35:16
That is, I want to pause there.
[Latasha Morrison sharing about becoming a recurring partner of Be the Bridge and shopping the online store] If you’ve been enjoying and learning from the Be the Bridge podcast, we invite you to join us in this work. You can support and sustain our mission as a recurring partner at BeTheBridge.com/Give. You can also help spread this word of bridge building by supporting and really sporting our apparel. So if you haven’t gotten your Be the Bridge hat, sweatshirt, all of the things, let’s take the message to the street. Visit our online store at Shop.BeTheBridge.com and make sure we’re spreading the word about all the work that Be the Bridge is doing and will do. At Be the Bridge, we’re doing the work to empower people and culture toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And this work is only possible because of the generosity of bridge builders like you. So thank you so much for those of you who are listening and sharing our podcast, sharing our posts, those of you who are giving to this work that’s helping us create resources and material that will transform hearts. So join us at BeTheBridge.com/Give. And let’s continue to build bridges together. Thank you so much.
Latasha Morrison 36:47
We see this all the time, you know, especially in clips that are going around social media. Just recently, there was a situation where there was a fight in a school and a young small, actually a small, you know, Brown guy, I don’t know if it was an African American or if he was, you know, Latinx, I couldn’t determine that by the video. But it was altercation with a white guy. And they were fighting. And the, you could tell, the larger guy, the larger white guy kind of started, he put his hand in his face and he pushed him. You know, just doing what sometimes kids do when they handle problems. And so the cops come and break it up. And immediately they push the white kid who was much larger on the chair, you know, and then both of them tackle the smaller, Brown child to the ground and put him in handcuffs. And all the kids are watching it and saying, “It’s because he’s Black. It’s because he’s Black.” And they knew he didn’t start it. But we see that situation, that scenario, all the time. So this is without guns. So when you talk about a good person with a gun, I know in any situation, I’m not going to try to break up anything. Because I do know, it depends on what color the people are how things are going down. I’m going to be the one that’s probably shot or manhandled. So anyway, I just wanted to insert that, because we see that a lot.
Gina Fimbel 38:27
Even hearing you say that, Tasha, is just so painful that you have to live in that reality. And I just want to acknowledge that.
Latasha Morrison 38:33
Yeah, I mean, I think about that. I think about that, when we talked about how we would stand up for people, you know, when all this stuff was going on in the airport, and you know, especially you know, when we’re dealing with the conversation around Asian hate, and you know, all these things. And I always think through, what will I do in this situation? How would I use my voice? Or how would I do this? Or what’s the best way? I try to think through these things so when they happen, I have a plan. I’m a planner. And so, but in my scenarios, I think through first of all, I’m a large Black woman and how that comes across. And I’m a large, dark skinned Black woman. And I know the racialized lens that people look at me through. And so this is me, Latasha Morrison, they don’t know who I am. They don’t know, I’ve written the book. They don’t know that I have an organization. They don’t know that I’m probably, you know, a nice or kind person. They don’t know those things. What they will see is this large Black woman. And I’m very mindful of that in how I move and operate through this society. And so that will impact how I respond, how I defend, and how I step up. And so I always think through how would I handle this situation? Because, you know, I am a justice person. And I will, you know, say something or do something sometimes before I even realize it when I feel like someone’s rights or if injustice is happening, I use my voice. I am a nine, but I have an eight wing. And some of my friends have seen it when it when it comes out. And so I’m very mindful of that, and I have to plan. I have to have something in my head. I have to think through scenarios, just so that I know that I can stand up for justice, but also how to be safe and come home in the midst of it. So.
Gina Fimbel 40:44
Wow, Tasha, thank you for sharing that authentic wrestling that you have and even fear that anyone would have being in that position. Thank you for speaking that and naming that. Well, I was just thinking about the day after the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. And I was out in my community here in Wilmington, North Carolina. And there was a track in front of me at a stoplight. And he had two flags flying on the truck. And one flag was the United States flag. And the other flag had a picture of an assault rifle and the wording on the flag said, “You can take this gun from my cold, dead hands. “And just seeing that the day after those children were murdered, I’ll be honest, I’m a little fearful for our country right now. I think these are conversations that we have to have. When we think about our nation, a historical scholar, and I’m not remembering the name right now. But he said, “A nation is not an act of creation, but a process of growth.” And we are in a process of growth when it comes to race, when it comes to gun violence, when it comes to immigration. And so we have to start having these conversations. I think, as Americans, we would prefer that genocide begin and end with Adolf Hitler. Right? Or what happened in Rwanda. Because it’s distant, it’s over there, it’s not about us. But the reality and the truth is that genocide has happened on our own soil, in our own nation. You know, our bid for independence was, you know, we had these ideas of freedom and democracy and equality for all but the reality of that was difficult to reconcile with this idea of genocide and colonization which happened. And we just don’t mourn that in the proper way. We don’t memorialize in the proper way. We don’t even tell those histories. And we think about justice, you know, what does justice require? Well, justice requires us to ask a lot of questions. Justice needs to hear every side of the story. And so you know, the these are really overwhelming things. Even I get overwhelmed by it at times. I think that we just need to do something. You know, whether we work on pieces of legislation, whether we work on voting, whether we work on shaping the culture in our spaces and places that we’re called to, we have to start getting brave.
Elizabeth Behrens 43:35
This idea of, “Take this gun from my cold dead hands,” particularly just strikes pain in my heart. Because I look at the the leading cause of gun deaths is not mass shootings, although mass shootings are a way to instill fear, to instill power. They remind me of the era of lynching, honestly. This idea that, “I can keep this group subjugated if I have them live in fear.” And that’s why we see the the predominant group who leads those mass shootings are white men who have been convinced that something is being taken from them or that they are not being given access to all the rights and privileges that should come with their white maleness. But at the same time, this, “Take this gun from my cold dead hands,” the leading cause of gun death is suicide. So there’s a reality to that. Right? That breaks my heart because there’s a truth to the fact that the that gun is more likely to kill that man than it is to kill someone else. The person who is clinging to that gun for their sense of safety, for their sense of power, for their sense of control, and clearly feels that need, like that gets something from it, if it’s powerful enough that they’re flying a giant flag off the back of their vehicle, he’s actually more likely to kill himself with that. He’s more likely to actually have that gun taken from his cold dead hands. Because we know that when it comes to mental health issues, which are often brought up in the wake of mass shootings. You know, I look at Greg Abbott, the governor in Texas after Uvalde, who said, you know, “We’re not going to take people’s gun rights, we’re going to look into mental health.” Well, with in weeks prior to Uvalde, Abbott cut $200 million from his state’s mental health funding. So it’s not about mental health. If it was about mental health, we’d be talking deeply about the fact that gun ownership increases the odds of suicide exponentially. And not only increases the odds that you’ll attempt suicide, but that your attempt will be successful. Because most other routes of attempting suicide have a failure rate that’s significantly higher than a gun guns failure rate. It’s actually fairly easy to shoot your own self and not miss. Right? Whereas if you’re attempting an overdose, or you’re attempting some kind of self harm, there is a lot larger window for intervention. But we’re not talking about that, right? We’re wanting to say that mass shootings are about mental health, when they’re not. We know that those with mental illness are actually more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators of gun violence by many, many times fold over. But it’s an easy way to push the issue off on something else, that they’re also not funding. But I think we have to also look at the roots of white supremacy in that concept of blaming mental health. Because when we can, when we can push it off on mental health, there’s already stigma against those who have mental illness. And so it’s easier to put an additional layer of stigma on them, than to take personal responsibility or to see this as a broader societal need. We know that ideas around ableism and looking down on those who can’t, you know, be as fruitful in a capitalist society. We look down on them, because of the roots of white supremacy – tie your worth to your output, to what you bring to the world, how much you can produce. So it’s easy to pass this off on mental health, even as we don’t address those things. But also, mental illness is really just kind of…throughout history, we always just kind of shift our language slightly to use coded words that really mean something racial. And so when we say, “Oh, this person was mentally ill,” it’s really just a coded word to say, “This was an individual person with a really individualistic problem. And so we’re going to try to come with an individualistic solution.” Rather, which is individualism is a core tenant of the culture of whiteness. And so if we can shift it to that, then we can take it off of our collective need to all be engaged in this work of what does it look like to live in a society where we have more guns than people in the U.S. And yet the answer that we’re given to the problem of guns is, “Well surely we just need more, right? Like if we have more individuals armed?” And I just want to say like, at what point are there enough guns? Right?
Latasha Morrison 48:52
Elizabeth Behrens 48:52
Like if we’re not safe, when there is 1.2 guns for every person – man, woman, and child – in the U.S., and we’re clearly not safe. We’re clearly dying by 10s of 1000s a year to gun violence, how many more guns until we’re safe? How many? Do we need two guns a person? Three guns a person?
Gina Fimbel 49:13
Elizabeth, I have to add right there, too. I was just listening to NPR last week, and they made the point that part of our immigration issue is that it has to do with the production of guns. A lot of the guns that are in South America were produced and manufactured right here in the U.S. And so, we do have some culpability. We have responsibility and culpability in this. It’s all connected. But thank you for sharing that. I love that, Elizabeth.
Latasha Morrison 49:45
I was just thinking, you know. And I’m gonna be real vulnerable here. You know, I was like when you mentioned like, how the scapegoat is mental health. And we say that, but there’s no funds, there’s no policies, there’s no legislation that has been passed, you know, even prior to Sandy Hook to help. If they’re saying this is the cause, people are cutting that budget. And you see people without the resources. I was talking to my aunt who, my cousin, who’s actually a nurse in a rural community, Native American community in North Carolina. And she just talked about just the mental health crisis there. And she talked about, you know, them not having trauma therapists, or PTSD, there’s no one at the hospital. The hospital that doesn’t employ anyone with that. And she said that the only resource they have is online. And just the need is so great. And so this is like a cesspool waiting for something like this to happen. And the same thing with Uvalde. There, you know, some of the reports that I’m reading, is that there aren’t any trauma counselors, like live, you know, trauma counselors in that area. And I know that the, some of the Congress people have been pushing to get more funding for their health center there. And so you have all these kind of communities around America who are under sourced and underserved. And we’re talking about mental health, but we’re not putting any money into it. And it’s just a scapegoat, because we’re not doing anything about that either. And I’m just thinking about, even myself after the shootings, and really before. My mom, since the shooting that happened in Colorado, I think it was Aurora, Colorado, in the movie theater. My mom has not been back to a movie theater since then. Okay? So you’re talking about secondary PTSD, where she has not been in the movie theater. When I go to a place that’s crowded, my thoughts, and you know, and I may be wired different. I don’t feel like I’m a scary person, I feel like I want to move and operate in this world, but I want to move and operate with wisdom. And I went to a concert, you know, the other week. And the first thing that I do is say, if something happens, where are the exits, where do I exit? How am I gonna get out here? And I’m not saying this verbally, but I’m thinking this in my mind. You know, I was in the grocery store. And then in the midst of being in the grocery store, I remember like, you know, just looking at people, all of these things, the trauma that ensues that we are experiencing, being a part of this violent culture in America. This weighs on someone. I’m saying if it weighs on someone like me where on Memorial Day I’m hearing firecrackers and different things going off. And this was, you know, really the very next weekend after one of those shootings, like my heart started racing in the midst of that. And so I’m like, if this is happening to me, and I’m more removed from Buffalo or Uvalde, which I’m not in that sense, I can only imagine what is happening in the minds and hearts of those children. And in the minds and hearts of those family members, people in Buffalo. Like how intense this is. And what type of resources are going to be available to them with the broken systems of healthcare that we have in this country?
And so, you know, and so that’s what I’m saying, when we talking about upstream conversation. You know? I’m just tired of the okey doke. I’m tired of the lip service. I’m tired of the lies. I’m just really tired of it. And it’s like, I need Americans to wake up and really understand what is at the root of this. What is it the root of this violent culture we have here in America where it’s not happening in any other country? And yes, they may have knives, but I tell you one thing. An AR 15 will kill a lot more people than a person with a knife. You know? And then when when they’ve had situations in other countries, they’ve changed laws, and they have not had the same situation. So I mean, we consider ourselves bright people. We have American exceptionalism. But we’re out doing every country, every developed country, you know, what you would call a developed country, in this. It’s like when is enough enough? And when will we wake up? But does the heart of this supremacist type mindset have you to your core where you can’t even see? You’re so blind where you can hang up a sign that says, “God, guns, and country,” and you think God is behind that. We have lost our ever loving minds. And it’s like really time to speak the truth into it. We have lost our minds. We idolize. We would say that there’s nothing that can be done after all of this. When we’re seeing children that were blown to bits, 10 year old, nine year old children, blown to bits. And we’re saying that there’s nothing that we can do about it. We have created an idol in guns. And right now I’m speaking to people of faith. I’m talking to you. Like if you value that gun more than you value lives, then something’s wrong. Something’s wrong with your faith. Something is wrong with your faith. And if you think God is backing this, or if you think that, you know, Jesus…I saw something where where Jesus could have defended himself against the Romans before they crucified him, if he would have had a gun. Like, exactly. That just goes against the very nature of the Christ we serve. But I’m telling you, I don’t know if this some of this westernized Christianity is even Christianity at all. But those are things that are being communicated in some pulpits across America. That’s for another conversation. I know, I done went on a rant.
But let’s get back to this. And I mean, I wanted to go jump into the Second Amendment. Because we hear this a lot, you know, “My Second Amendment right! My second.” Like, first of all you’re talking about, we speak to it as a very individualistic standpoint. And I’m thinking like, “Okay, so I don’t have a Second Amendment right? You only, you have a Second Amendment right?” I wanted to talk a little bit about that. You know, like, it should be for the greater good of the country. My citizenship is just not tied to me, but it’s collective. It’s tied to other people. So I wanted us to talk about that and just the ownership and the responsibility we have to one another because we are connected. You know, what ultimately impacts you, Elizabeth, impacts me. What ultimately impacts the people of Buffalo, impacts me. What ultimately impacts, you know, the people at Sandy Hook impacts me. Although we may not know each other, we are part of this community in this society together. So I just wanted us to speak into that Second Amendment a little bit. Gina can start, and then you can kind of close it up.
Gina Fimbel 58:00
The way the Second Amendment reads is that it begins with a well regulated militia. Right? And so I do think we have to look at that collective aspect of that. I don’t think it was necessarily all about the individual. And also, it was a different ballgame, because there were not military style weapons then. Right? You couldn’t walk in and kill 50 people in 20 seconds.
Latasha Morrison 58:28
It was the muskets.
Gina Fimbel 58:29
Latasha Morrison 58:30
You had to put powder in the thing.
Gina Fimbel 58:31
Latasha Morrison 58:33
“While you’re getting the powder in, I can get away.” (laughter) You know?
Gina Fimbel 58:37
Right. I guess for me, it just boils down to, sure you say you have this right. But my friend Latasha has a right to go to the grocery store and not be executed. And to me that trumps that.
Latasha Morrison 58:54
Elizabeth Behrens 58:55
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, Gina as you were talking about the first part of the Second Amendment, it made me think back to the Supreme Court deliberations in, I think it was U.S. v Heller about 2008, when that was really the first Supreme Court case that really decided to try to dissect the Second Amendment. And I swear to you, these attorneys were literally diagramming the sentence and arguing whether what the comma versus a semicolon. And what did a, you know. It was almost to the point of ridiculousness, I would say, particularly given the fact that there was a complete lack of racial context being given as to why the Second Amendment was written in the first place, especially from those who consider themselves more like constitutionalists or like originalists. There’s all these different terms, this idea that we have to stick to the original intentions of the Constitution. And it’s like, well, the original intentions of the Second Amendment were to control the enslaved population. I mean, within 20 years of the Revolutionary War, there was actually an act passed that required, I believe you had to be between the ages of 18 and 45 and a white man, you were required to buy a gun. Required. Because there was there was so much racial tension. And there was so much, you know, there was fear of foreign invasion, there were all these things. So this idea of original intention is interesting to me given the context of the origin of our country.
Latasha Morrison 1:00:41
But we couldn’t buy a gun. Repeat that what you said again. That white men were required to buy a gun, but Brown people couldn’t buy a gun. So that let’s you know who the law was for.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:00:54
Yeah, not just couldn’t. But like, there were specific laws passed to say that you can’t. You can’t buy a gun. And you can’t even buy a gun, you can’t even own a gun. Some states, even as, particularly in the wake of the revolution in Haiti, there was so much fear that the enslaved in the U.S. were going to sort of catch that fire of liberty, that realization that you could overthrow your oppressors, that it went to not only could you not buy a gun or not own a gun, it used to be that your master could give you one of his guns to use for either to be the one who was on a slave patrol or to be hunting or to do whatever. And even that became illegal, because there was so much fear of Black people having guns. So this debate about you know, what did the Second Amendment originally mean is curious to me. I’ll say that. I’ll say it’s curious. And usually the argument given for like, well, you know, now we have semiautomatic rifles, and we have AR 15s. And we have all these different things. It’s like, “Well, it’s because this is supposed to protect you from a tyrannical government,” which is not what the Second Amendment was written for. But I mean, well, in part it was because the idea was that the tyrannical government would be the federal government getting too much power and being able to pass laws regarding slavery. That was the idea of protecting from a tyrannical government was protection from laws limiting or ending the practice of slavery. But even as people want to use that argument today, all you have to do is look back at video footage of Ferguson. There were literal government tanks rolling through the streets and talk about seeing some government overreach. You know, we had, that was mere hours from my house. It was a war zone. And that’s not who was out protecting people from a tyrannical government, the same people fighting to be able to keep their automatic weapons or to keep their military style rifles. They weren’t there protecting anyone. In fact, instead, we saw within years of that, we saw Kyle Rittenhouse who was able to show up at a Black Lives Matter protest and walk past police with his rifle. I was actually at a very peaceful protest here in Kansas City and had the same thing happen except for it was two young men. I would be shocked if they were even 20 years old, but had rifles strapped to their backs, military style rifles. And they were just wandering through the crowd draped in American flags. We begged the police to do something. It felt very unsafe to have them there. The police instead when they decided to leave gave them protection and walked them back to their car. Later that night, there was actually a police car that was set on fire and of course the the narrative was blaming Antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters or whatever. Well, the police put out photos of the suspects. And it was those same men that I had begged them to protect us from, were actually the ones who later that day tried to further the negative narratives around those fighting for Black rights by burning a cop car. And it was the police that ushered them to safety so that later that night they could do that because it was never about whether they were allowed to own a gun or not. It was about the color of their skin that deemed them safe. I can guarantee you that if Black Lives Matter protesters showed up with the exact same gun strapped to their back, they wouldn’t be treated the same way by police in that situation. There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way that they would have been treated the same way. And we know that. We’ve seen that play out. We saw that play out.
You know, California passed all kinds of gun regulations after the Black Panthers started open carrying and started a smear campaign on the goals and the aims of the Black Panthers in that community. It was Ronald Reagan that signed several laws into place with the backing of the NRA after the Black Panthers showed up at the State House armed and ready to defend their liberties, and the fact that the state was not protecting them from violence bur was actually enacting that violence. So we’ve seen throughout history from whether it was during times of enslavement willingness to pass gun laws to restrict gun ownership, the same happened during Reconstruction, the same happened during the Civil Rights Movement. The government has never shown a lack of willingness to pass gun reform if it meant restricting the rights of Black people to own and utilize weapons. Yet, white nationalists who have been the perpetrators of more violence than this country will ever be able to atone for, are the ones that the government has never shown a willingness to enact really, hardly any sort of protections from for those in this country who don’t ascribe to that to that same narrative. And there’s been an unwillingness even to protect white people who who don’t choose the side of white nationalism. There’s lots of examples of where white people stand alongside people of color throughout history and their rights start to mirror those of the Black people in that situation, very intentionally. Because white supremacy has a goal and it’s not for white people to deflect from it. But we have passed lots of gun laws. But they’ve largely been to expand gun ownership and gun rights and things rather than to have a goal of protecting people, which should be the government’s goal. We’ve you know, we’ve passed things like Stand your Ground and Castle Doctrine and open carry laws, and all of those have been shown to not, those rights are never in actuality given to Black people. Black people are not allowed to stand their ground, not allowed to protect their castle.
Latasha Morrison 1:07:27
We know they don’t apply to us.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:07:36
Latasha Morrison 1:07:27
Because we’ve seen it. You know, with even in Florida with the the young lady shooting in the air, you know, trying to protect herself from domestic violence.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:07:36
Yeah, she was a domestic violence victim. And she’s in jail for 20 years. And the same state attorney that helped put her in jail for 20 years, a matter of weeks later, used that same law to protect a white man with a gun.
Gina Fimbel 1:07:50
Just hearing Elizabeth speak makes me think about the three evils that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of, which was racism, poverty, and militarism. And, honestly, I can’t even imagine our country without militarism, without military style weapons, without guns. I want to imagine a country without that, but because it has coexisted so intimately it’s really difficult to do that. But I do think, especially when we’re thinking about ideology, when we’re thinking about the ways in which we speak about guns, the ways in which we allow guns to exist in our country, I do think we’ve made a mistake of thinking that military superiority is a moral superiority. And in the United States, we’re guilty of that. There’s no way around it. Military superiority does not equal moral superiority. And, in fact, the United States, as we all know, you know, we have made some grievous sins in our country that we have yet to reckon with or atone for. So I just wanted to bring up some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words around that, because it’s timeless. And he was speaking into something that he knew would be trouble for us in this country.
Latasha Morrison 1:09:41
And I think he, and he was speaking from a person of faith, as a pastor. And I think that is some of the reasons why, you know, we have to remember that Dr. Martin Luther King when he was taken from us, when he was murdered, he was an enemy of the state. You know? So, you know, minds have changed for some around this, others still have a very racialized view around it. But I was looking at here at some statistics where we were talking about. The U.S. has 46% of the world’s guns. 46%. And in 2020, 40 million new guns were sold. 40 million. And, you know, I even know, like, you know, people in my family who never own guns that bought guns. And one of my cousins collects guns. And I was like, “Why do you have all these weapons?” And, you know, he actually blatantly told me, “I’ll stop buying guns, when they stop buying guns.” I was like, “Who is they?” He said, “White people. When white people stop buying guns, I’ll stop buying guns.” And it’s just like, this does not have a good ending. You know? And like you said, it’s heartbreaking, and it makes you very nervous and scared. And just to be honest, I’m gonna be real vulnerable here, you guys. You know, as we’re recording this, we’re coming up on Juneteenth. And, you know, I was, some friends and I, we were looking at things to do in our area for Juneteenth. And I’m afraid to attend some of these things, just because I know that evil is real. And that is the reality. And it’s not to say, like, I know, people say, “Well, you know, God has not given me a spirit of fear.” But when we talk about a loving and sound mind, that’s wisdom. And some things I’m applying wisdom to, and really just not giving the enemy any foot hold. And it’s not to say, I will probably go and do. But I’m just saying, I just want you to really, these are things I have to think about living in America. These are things that burden me. And, you know, I don’t have any children. So I can imagine even what the level of that is for families that are having to send their kids into schools and all the things. You know? And so some of the things I’m thinking about too, is I’m thinking about even Ukraine as they’re in war, and how they’re having to carry on with their life in the midst of war. So, I’m leaning into that as a way of strength, you know, but it’s just all of this stuff is just so fresh.
And, even with my mom, the area that she lives in, the flags that she sees every day. And, you know, she doesn’t want me out at dark. She gets nervous when I travel. You know, I recently had to tell a friend, talking about, like why I don’t travel by myself or why there’s certain things we’re putting into my contracts as a way of safety. Because people are mean, and people are not well, and sometimes they don’t have good intentions. And even those who claim Christianity, and I’ve had friends whose reputation and name, they’ve just been lied on in this space. And saying that they said things that they didn’t say. And like, just even sometimes when they’re traveling and speaking fearful at their life speaking at a college or fearful for their life and speaking at a church. And these are just things and so and we do have a right to be fearful because we look at all the people who were doing the things, the type of work that we do that look like us, many of them met death. You know? And so, exactly, that’s a real reality. And so, but that is what we live with day to day. So when we’re doing this podcast, you know, when we’re having this conversation, this is not just words. You know, this is us trying to beckon, to get people to realize, to get people to wake up, to get people to understand, to get people to understand the context, you know, honestly so that, you know, and I don’t know another word and how to say this, that so that we can live. You know? You know, this thing weighs on you. And you know, and I don’t know if people really understand that. And I know some of these things are done to evoke fear. And that is what it does. But my resistance in this is to tell the truth, is to expose it, is to educate. And that’s what we will continue to do. So I thank you guys for joining in that resistance and locking arms with me today. Where sometimes when we don’t know what to do, we can have a conversation. That’s a starting point in all of this, is having a conversation so that that conversation can change minds, and the changed minds of people change policy and systems. And so that is my hope with this conversation. But I wanted to, you know, when we look at, when we look at the NRA. Because this comes up a lot with the NRA, and I wanted to you know, like, who is the NRA? Who are the gun lobbyists? Like the intentions, we know that at the end of the day, they make money. And I think you know, one of the things why I wouldn’t want to buy a lot of guns is because I don’t want to give a lot of money to the gun manufacturers and all of those things. But this is also not a just, this is something that needs to be bipartisan because we’ve seen even some of these laws on both sides of the aisles. I want to say that automatic rifles, I don’t want to say this wrong, so y’all can. I looked up some history where semi automatic, the ban on those were lifted, it was lifted by Clinton, I want to say.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:16:55
So the ban against the, what was it the automatic rifle or assault rifle ban? And, AR does not stand for assault rifle.
Latasha Morrison 1:17:08
Yes, exactly. It doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:17:08
It was passed, it was passed but with a sundown clause so that it automatically would end at some point unless Congress acted to reinstate it. And Congress did not act to reinstate it largely because of the lobbying and work of the NRA. But upon it, you know, sundowning essentially, there was an increase in purchase of those guns and an increase in use of those guns. Of course there was. Like, you know, there’s often this response of, “Well, if we, you know, if we keep good guys from getting guns, then bad guys will still find a way to get them.” And it’s like, well, maybe, but also that relies, again, on that narrative of good guy with a gun and bad guy with a gun, which doesn’t actually hold water and has really racialized implications. And we know, that’s just fundamentally not true that it’s only bad guys with guns committing the violence, like we talked about issues of suicide and things. But a lot of these mass shootings are carried out with very legally acquired weapons. And so to say that those men, largely, would simply have found a different way to get them, it’s like, okay, maybe. But I’m okay with making it harder. I’m okay with putting barriers in place that, you know, will eliminate some of these mass shootings. It will eliminate some of these gun deaths. It will, you know, things like putting a waiting period on from when you can when you go into purchase a gun and when you can actually take it home. Laws like that are actually shown to reduce lots of deaths, because oftentimes, especially suicidal ideation, tends to come in waves and be fairly short lived. And so if you don’t have a means of suicide available there at your ready disposal, by the time you can acquire that oftentimes suicidal ideation passes. So we know that those waiting periods drastically reduce suicide deaths, and we also know that they reduce some of these mass shootings as well. Because oftentimes they are this idea of like a crime of passion of like, getting super riled up, going and getting the gun, and then going and committing the murder.
Latasha Morrison 1:19:42
And that’s what has happened, right Elizabeth? That has happened, as you speak to this. That happened in Uvalde. Like this was in 24 hours, he purchased a gun and used it. And I think, I don’t know about the case in Buffalo. But I know that was an 18 year old kid, this other one was 18 year old kid. And I do know that when I go in to get medicine at the window. I take Sudafed, and when I go to get that medicine, I have to sign off, I had to go to the pharmacy, I can’t even pick it up in the aisle. I have to go and I have to sign off. And I have to initial, sign my name, show my driver’s license. And if it comes up that I bought this within a certain period of time, I will be denied getting Sudafed in this country because of the addiction to meth, because of the drug use, which I don’t complain about that. I’m not upset about that. I understand why I have to go through that. And that is to keep some people safe. And I’m okay with that, because I’m connected to that. So I’m okay with having to wait for my Sudafed, or having to sign or show my driver’s license for that. But we cannot apply that same type of system as it relates to gun laws. And what we saw even in Texas, is some of the gun legislation that the governor passed would have red flagged this kid, because he had had the incident of threatening the year before. I think there have been some when he was in high school, there also had been some issues with violence towards animals and cruelty. And so when we think about that, when you’re at a time when we’re seeing so much violence, what in your mind, besides greed and I don’t even know the other word, would say that the way forward is to even have more guns and to loosen restrictions where an 18 year old who cannot rent a car, who cannot consume alcohol, who cannot take Sudafed, you know, basically can go out and buy a military style weapon and that type of ammunition within 24 to 48 hours. Something is wrong in this country. And something is wrong with people who back that. And if something has you holding so tight to power or to money. Like that is something that we really need to be, that is broken, and it’s really concerning. And I was seeing in our notes here that after, you know, you say much of the civil rights activists who were who were out and their lives were threatened, homes were bombed, you know, who were jailed, all of these things. Because, you know, some of them chose not to carry guns because they knew that would be an excuse to kill them. But also Martin Luther King Jr. applied for concealed carry permit after his home was bombed. And then he was denied. You know? And so that, so when we even think about it even shows us who the girls are made for. We see the racialized thread in this. And this is what we need to get you to see where everything comes back to our racialized society, it comes back to this and who holds the power and when we talk about supremacy and superiority. And that’s what we’re trying to get people to see and to understand and connect the dots on.
Gina Fimbel 1:23:49
Yeah, I mean, one of the things I say when I do training around the system of whiteness that we’ve built in the U.S. is that at the end of the day, and you mentioned this, Tasha, you mentioned money and greed. But so much of the story of America is about the control of power, money, and labor. And when it comes to the NRA, there is no doubt that they have poured in millions and millions and millions of dollars to senators who are going to be voting for laws that make it easier to get guns. You can go on to BradyUnited.org, which is an excellent organization, along with Moms Demand Action and Sandy Hook Promise. These are organizations who work all year long on this issue and have lots of great information, but they have the list of Senators laid out who gets the most money from the NRA. And I mean, at that top of the list $13 million the NRA is donating to Senator Mitt Romney in Utah. You know, I can look at my state North Carolina, the NRA has given him $6 million, Senator Richard Burr. And so we can’t be naive on this issue anymore. I don’t know the history of the NRA. But I know that they are about the control of money and power. And when gun laws are passed, they see it as getting less money, less profit. And so but, you know, hope requires us to take action. And so I don’t want to leave, I don’t want us to leave this conversation with everyone feeling so hopeless. But I want us to understand that we do have power, we live in this country, we can decide as a community the kind of community that we want to live in. And that’s where we are, we have to call our senators, we have to write our senators, we have to just get, you know, allow ourselves to have a basic education on this issue so we can talk to our neighbors about it. So we can talk to our pastors about it. We have to take action. Right? We can’t, this is not something that we can bypass anymore. One of the things we talk about at Be the Bridge is this idea of spiritual bypassing when it comes to racism. And the same principle applies here. You know, it’s our thoughts and prayers, we’re outraged for a couple of days, but then nothing ever changes. It didn’t change after Sandy Hook, it didn’t change after the shooting in Florida at Pulse Nightclub. But my prayer is that it will change after Uvalde. That it will change after what happened in Buffalo. And so that’s what my work is right now. My work is finding out what can I do in my local community? What letter can I write to my senator, to my representative? You know, what can I do to help in this? And so that’s what I hope that all of us will be asking those questions.
Latasha Morrison 1:27:04
Those are great questions to ask. And I think we can type that up as far as some action steps. As we get ready to close, Elizabeth, I would love to hear like what are the things that you’re hopeful for in this conversation and to maybe give three action steps that people can take. Because you can, what we notice in this work is when people feel hopeless, they don’t do anything. So what good is for it for me to do anything or say anything if we do it, you know, it’s bigger than me. But what we’ve seen is that when people use their voice, when people hold people accountable, we see that even in other countries, when people come out in masses, I mean by the millions and protests, you cannot, I know there are more people that are thinking like this than we know. And there are more good people who you know, that are really, I would say just oriented people that are just looking for something like what do I do? You know, what do I say? And I think one of the things, as we say it, is started by educating ourselves on the issues, what is something else that you would would you say, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Behrens 1:28:28
Yeah, in terms of three steps of what you can do, outside of what Gina mentioned, with really pushing our legislators to do something about this. You know, a lot of times there’s a push at the national level, be sure you’re talking to your state reps as well, though. A lot of state laws, there are many states who have, you know, Connecticut comes to mind, California comes to mind. I know there’s some others, though, that have passed some gun restrictions and some gun reform. Where they said, “We’re still going to let people have the right to bear arms. But we’re going to be more careful about this. We’re going to be more selective, we’re going to make sure that we are prioritizing safety.” And has that ended all mass shootings and all gun suicides and things? Not a chance. There’s no legislation that will at this point, we have millions and millions and millions of guns out there already. But what it’s done is it has lessened them. And so we can look at sort of piecemealing together some laws and solutions. So look into I’d say firstly, look into what’s actually worked for various states and push your own state to do likewise. Then anything that will help sort of end this epidemic of gun violence. But there’s a few other really practical things, there are some organizations. And I can put some things in the show notes and things but push for both your school and your pediatricians office to offer up safes and locks for guns and ammunition. That has been shown to help significantly to make sure that kids don’t get their hands on guns. Gun death is the leading cause of death for children as of 2020. That’s brand new. And one of those causes is because kids are getting their hands on guns that have been left unlocked or unloaded. And so you can actually push to have your school and your pediatrician offer those for free, no questions asked. And some pediatricians now are also starting to have that be part of, you know, at your child’s physical, one of the questions is, “Are their guns in the home? And how are they stored?” Push for that. That’s a simple, you don’t need a single, you know, the NRA doesn’t have to have a thing to do about that. You can increase the safety in your own community that way. And with that, also opening up the conversation with friends and with family. You know, before your kids are going to someone’s house, are you asking them if they have guns and how they’re stored. Kids are curious. Kids play with toy guns, kids play video games with guns, and sometimes those are tried to be pointed to as the reason. But often it’s the unlocked, unsecured gun that’s actually the problem when a friend is over, and kids get curious. So they try to show off to one another. Make sure that when your kids are at other people’s homes, that their guns are secured, that they’re unloaded, and that they’re locked, and then there’s no way a child could ever access them. But also, I think as much as anything is that when these big mass shootings happen, or when there’s, you know, sort of like we’ve had recently where there’s a whole bunch in a row and anxiety is high and fear is high. And people are sort of just lobbing insults at one another across political lines, to model what it is to be a bridge builder in that moment as well. That part of racial bridge building we know is to be able to have vulnerable, historically informed, nuanced conversations about race and racism in America, let’s embrace that same mindset, that same sort of path forward with this debate too. What would it look like to instead of just lobbing insults and letting our anxiety play out on a keyboard on the internet, what would it look like to instead be really informed people who understand this historical background, that are able to engage with nuance, that are able to embrace the reality of what we’re up against here and be able to have actual healthy conversations about this? I think that’s where we’re going to see this issue start to be able to be de politicized. If we’re able to say I don’t, it’s not about what the Democrats are pushing or the Republicans are pushing. I want to be informed. I want to know what works. I want to push for research so that we know what works and I want to be able to talk to whether it’s my friend or my neighbor or the city council meeting, or wherever it is that we’re talking about this, and be leading the way and showing our heart and mind and spirit of bridge building in this conversation, too.
Latasha Morrison 1:33:11
That’s so good. I think the push for research is key. And I know that some of the research that came out of Parkland, and some of the results where, you know, having more officers in schools, and the research indicates that that is not the solution. But the solution is more so having more counselors, having more career planning, more people that students can talk to about issues. Those are some of the better solutions that we’ve seen. So I think we have to look at that research. And I think this is a really healthy conversation. I think this is just one conversation. I think this is the beginning of this, there’s so many layers to this. And I think, you know, even out of this, you know, Be the Bridge we’re all about equipping. And I think this could also be a part of our training academy. Because as I’m looking, there’s this whole section that we really didn’t get to go over really breaking down from 1967 to 1970. I think those are some key areas where you see the Black Panthers in California and the open carry. And then when Reagan was governor, what he enacted, and then how you see some of those things shift in 1968. But you see those things shift as a result of the passing of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and immigration reform and all of these things. And so you see the reaction of that is this whole Black white binary you see in 1968. And then you see a lot of the shift in the NRA becoming more anti-gun reform. And so I think there’s a lot of history there that I would want us to dig into, but we cannot do that on the podcast.
Elizabeth Behrens 1:35:27
Oh I’d go for another hour if we were to get into that.
Latasha Morrison 1:35:32
Elizabeth Behrens 1:35:32
Right? That post Civil Rights Movement era where there was, you know, post MLK being murdered a lot of Black people in the streets, and that created white fear, and a white backlash and grievance response.
Latasha Morrison 1:35:46
Yeah, yeah. And I think. Go ahead.
Gina Fimbel 1:35:47
Well, I was just gonna say, I’m still in a state of rage that the number one cause of death for our children is gun violence. Like, I’m sorry.
Latasha Morrison 1:35:46
Yes. In America.
Gina Fimbel 1:35:59
As soon as she said that, I think I got lost in the conversation, because I didn’t realize that. And I’m gonna go cry in rage for a little while.
Latasha Morrison 1:36:07
It is, it is. It is the number one cause of death for children in America now. It’s gun violence. And this is on our watch. And so there is something that we can do. We do have, we control this. Like the people control this, and everybody is not thinking like that. And so sometimes the loudest voices are not necessarily the majority of voices. So, believe me, it takes only a remnant to change. And I think we can evoke change in this. And I think this is just the beginning of this conversation. There’s a lot more that we can discuss with this. And we’re going to do that, you know, in a deeper series on some of the cultural views that we have here in America. So you know, what type of things, you know, this is definitely a deep lament, even, as Gina just mentioned, just the lament of that the number one cause of death for children in America is gun violence. That is something to really cause, it should cause us to cry out to God, you know, to change and to redeem and to shift. And so that is definitely a lament of all of our hearts. You know, but when I think about some of the things that’s also given me hope in this is the fact that we can have this conversation, that we have a platform where we can have this conversation. We have an audience that we know that are listening, and they are learning, and they are lamenting, and they’re leveraging, those are the things that give me hope. Because just as we have changed and transformed and continue to change and transform, we know that our audience is continuing to change and transform. And we know that audience is part of a system of people, of community, of society, that can bring about worldly change. And so we’ve seen other countries do it. You know, we’ve seen other countries successfully do it. And although they have still have some violence, it’s very, it’s less, way less then our country where every day, parents are worried about sending their kids to college, where we have to think about gun violence when we go to the grocery store, where we have to think about gun violence when we go to the mall, where we have to think about gun violence when we go to the park, or where we have to think about gun violence when we go to the grocery store. That is a part of our daily thought process. And that is not normal. And I’m not going to normalize it. It is not normal. And it is not, it’s only normalized here in America, and someone is not going to convince me that this is the way that it should be because it doesn’t have to be this way. And so I’m hopeful that there are people who think the same way, that feels like this is not normal, and it does not have to be this way and we’re going to do something about it. So call your Senators, email, support organizations that are fighting this battle, because sometimes if you don’t know what to do, you can also support organizations that are fighting this battle. And then also begin to, you know, we have to vote for the things that are deemed important. And so this too, is something that, you know, I consider when I go into to the ballot box. So, these are things that we should all consider. So, thank you so much, Gina and Elizabeth for joining. I know, Elizabeth is thinking through right now, how we can create a training and conversation around this. I think this is a very, very important culture issue. I think we also have to look at other countries and what they’ve done like Norway and New Zealand and Europe in different places. I think we, the only, I think we even surpass Mexico. And then we can talk about like Mexico, most of the guns are coming from here. I mean, but I think there’s so much that we can really discuss in this to help educate people, to help shift minds and ideologies around this. So thank you so much for joining us. And I think the greatest thing that we also do as it goes along with the action, is that a prayer for change, you know, and prayer that hearts would change,and that eyes would be open and blinders would be eliminated as it relates to this conversation and others. So thank you so much. This is a very long podcast, we knew it was gonna be long. You know, we have information that you know, that we can edit with this. So thank you so much for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. Hopefully this information and this content would be used to bring about a shift and a change of mind as it relates to this specific conversation. So thank you so much for joining.
Tandria Potts 1:42:17
Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai