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Who Is To Blame For The Scores Of Illegal Guns In Black Communities?

Harlem Residents Protest Recent Gun Violence

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty

The summer is approaching fast and we all know what that means. More people outside doing activities and unfortunately that means more people interacting which makes the violence rates rise. I learned this recently on our movement political education call where we laid out stats on guns, drugs and violence.

According to ABC News, almost 5,000 people have died in the U.S. from gun violence so far in 2024.  I would think this number alone would create a mass movement around stopping such numbers until you realize one thing. That article is from February 2024 meaning that number has nearly tripled by now in June. Alarming to many and sad to the families of the victims. Yet, depending on where you live in this country or where you get your news from, who is to blame is an oblique narrative that we have already started to hear about from candidates both at the local and national levels on the ballot.

So why is the onus regularly shifted to individuals or groups mostly aligned by race or political party and not by lawmakers who regulate the manufacturing, transactions and possession of guns in the first place?

Depending on where, you will receive the same old politically slanted messaging that sounds like it is produced straight from a party’s think tank and communication department. Tell me if this sounds familiar. If you live in a so-called liberal state then it is always Republicans at the federal level who won’t implement common-sense gun laws to curb gun violence.

And if you live in a red state like the majority of the country then it’s always the urban (aka Black people) areas or the immigrants (Black and Brown people). In other words, somebody not white and/or it’s always going to be drug-related in some way, shape or form. If you watch any local nightly news broadcast, drugs and gun violence go hand and hand like Peaches and Herb. So, I’m asking the question and then attempting to slightly point at the answer with my elbows in this article for who may be really at fault for the violence that ravages our communities. And more importantly where our collective rage, organizing, and black ballots should become mobilized around strategically.

Let me start by asking you a question. “Where are all these guns and drugs coming from in the first place?” I mean it sure ain’t black folks. When I Googled “Black Gun Manufacturers” I only found one “Civilian Force Arms”. Wanna hear some irony? The owner is both black and an immigrant. The owner is Yonas Hagos,  a military veteran, and according to this website “is a Purple Heart recipient who delivers a World Class AR-15 platform that is dependable and performs at quite a high level.”  The black and immigrant part didn’t surprise me nor did the purple heart. What did was the military background though and all stemmed back to the movement teach-in that I recently attended. And you won’t guess who our special guest lecturer was either. Rick Ross. No, not the multi-platinum, multi-millionaire rapper, but where he gets his namesake from in the first place. The Freeway Rick Ross. Freeway Rick is known as the godfather of modern-day drug trafficking. At his height, he claims that he sold up to 3 million dollars worth of crack cocaine a day in the 1980s. He gets most if not all the blame for the crack epidemic that tore through the black middle class and devastated the black community to this day. But that’s not all he was. He was the fall guy for Republicans and a scapegoat for the Democrats to secure our vote through the 94 Crime Bill. But, like all Black drug kingpins and unlike our white counterparts, Mr. Ross served his time in both 1986 and then he received a life sentence in 1996, but his sentence was appealed and commuted in 2009.

But Ross’s case proved that President Reagan, Vice President Bush, the CIA, local to state law enforcement and even his high school tennis coach were all involved in an “alleged” international drug trafficking operation to fund a coup in Nicaragua to install a Pro-American government there. And to not be biased, President Obama ran a similar program called “Fast And Furious” where the U.S. government began instructing gun store owners to break the law by selling firearms to suspected criminals thought to be connected to Mexican Drug Cartels. Unfortunately, the guns were poorly tracked and subsequently used in the killings of Mexican and US citizens.

Now let’s get local, in 2010 Federal agents arrested three retired Marines suspected of trying to sell illegal assault weapons to a notorious Los Angeles street gang. In Chicago in 2021, Brandon Miller, 24, was arrested for conspiring with two other Fort Campbell soldiers to sell firearms in Chicago illegally.   And if you Google “guns stolen from a military base” you will see pages of cases where military guns are just gone, According to Forbes, 1,900 U.S. Military Firearms Were Lost Or Stolen Over The Last Decade.

Do you want to know the crazy part? You never hear organizations ever question the government or military’s involvement in drug or gun violence. Not the ones who are against mass shootings, gang violence or the stop the violence crusaders who march through the streets of most urban districts.

It seems to me that everyone is ignoring or afraid to call out the people who have a clear track record of being culpable for the drugs and guns getting here in the first place. But hey, what do I know? I’m just pointing out the obvious with my elbows.

And before one of y’all jump to a conclusion, let me clear the air. I am not for the mass removal of guns from black people nor do I believe that anybody should get on just because they are of age. I’m simply saying that the person who pulls the trigger, the one who sold it or stole it should go to jail all the same when they’re all in on it. More importantly though, our votes should only go to candidates who are willing to hold government agencies, employees and contractors accountable from the campaign trail through their terms just like they held my cousins and them throughout US history for drug and gun crimes. If not, you shouldn’t run and especially not ask for our vote. And to be quite frank, we shouldn’t give them our vote either no matter the party or even if they’re black.

Love y’all Black people.


Tory Russell is a Ferguson Uprising organizer, internationally recognized Black movement leader and Director of Organizing for the International Black Freedom Alliance.


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