CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Benforado on Weapons and the Increasingly Dangerous Right to Self Defense

Benforado adam Adam Benforado  (Drexel University - Earle Mack School of Law) has posted Quick on the Draw: Implicit Bias and the Second Amendment (Oregon Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 1, p. 1, 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

African Americans face a significant and menacing threat, but it is not the one that has preoccupied the press, pundits, and policy makers in the wake of several bigoted murders and a resurgent white supremacist movement. While hate crimes and hate groups demand continued vigilance, if we are truly to protect our minority citizens, we must shift our most urgent attention from neo-Nazis stockpiling weapons to the seemingly benign gun owners among us - our friends, family, and neighbors - who show no animus toward African Americans and who profess genuine commitments to equality.

Our commonsense narratives about racism and guns - centered on a conception of humans as autonomous, self-transparent, rational actors - are outdated and strongly contradicted by recent evidence from the mind sciences.

Advances in implicit social cognition reveal that most people carry biases against racial minorities beyond their conscious awareness. These biases affect critical behavior, including the actions of individuals performing shooting tasks. In simulations, Americans are faster and more accurate when firing on armed blacks than when firing on armed whites, and faster and more accurate in electing to hold their fire when confronting unarmed whites than when confronting unarmed blacks. Yet, studies suggest that people who carry implicit racial bias may be able to counteract its effects through training.

Given recent expansions in gun rights and gun ownership - and the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of private citizens who already use firearms in self-defense each year - this is reason for serious concern. While police officers often receive substantial simulation training in the use of weapons that, in laboratory experiments, appears to help them control for implicit bias, members of the public who purchase guns are under no similar practice duties.

In addressing this grave danger, states and local governments should require ongoing training courses for all gun owners similar to other existing licensing regimes. Such an approach is unlikely to run into constitutional problems and is more politically tenable than alternative solutions.

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With law professors like this, no wonder our legal system is so screwed up.

Posted by: Bruce V | Nov 12, 2010 6:20:15 AM

Adam is confused by the old Clan Watch (SPLC now) and the antiquated reporting system of the FBI. The white supremacist movement has been defeated the law enforcement. Yes, there are a few murders of Blacks by white racists, but very few. Compare the FBI stats with the California DOJ - FBI indicates that the majority of Hate Crime victims are Black with white suspects, but, that is because the FBI classifies Hispanics as white. CAL DOJ has the same total number of hate crimes reported, but the responsibles are Hispanic gang members. The number of guns possessed by whites does not have a bearing on black homicide rate. To reduce the number of Black homicides then take the guns away from Blacks. Whites with guns really doesn't have an impact.

Posted by: Alan Johnson | Nov 12, 2010 11:16:30 AM

Consider this..

In 2007 only 0.26% of all criminals convicted in the State of Texas were Licensed to Carry a handgun. (

Approximately 1/4 of 1%.
The State of Texas requires no training to obtain a CHL, yet, based on the statistics above, there is no evidence of Licensed Gun owners committing hate crimes to back up your assertion.

"Seemingly benign"? No, statistically, Licensed gun owners ARE benign.

Posted by: James G | Nov 14, 2010 3:57:31 PM

Great job i am very inspired by your article.
Thank you for post..

Posted by: Gun Cabinets | Apr 6, 2011 3:09:06 AM

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