EDITORIAL: Why I support Tavis Smiley’s solution for gun violence (VIDEO)

In the wake of the Zimmerman trial, PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley appeared on ABC and FOX News. Last Sunday, Smiley told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “It appears to me…that you can in fact stand your ground unless you are a black man.” After this reckless assertion, few would have predicted that less than 48 hours later Smiley would be capable of seriously contributing to a bona-fide solution to remedy a divided America.

Monday evening, Smiley appeared on FOX News’s the O’Reilly Factor. The segment focused on the nationwide media’s shameless effort to scrub all news of black-on-black crime. Host Bill O’Reilly asked Smiley about a supposed “institutional contempt for black men” that Smiley claims continues to permeate America. Smiley spouted that to resolve the verified media problem, as well as Smiley’s imaginary institutional-contempt problem, O’Reilly should join him on the “right side of the gun-control conversation.”

True to form, O’Reilly’s response was smug (but absent his signature nostril inhalation). O’Reilly dismissed gun control, but gladly proposed more government intrusion—“federalizing all gun crimes.” Eager to trump the host’s Harvard-influenced drivel, Smiley shot back, “We gotta get the guns off the streets; that’s how you solve the problem.”

Perhaps Smiley simply misfired—forgetting the adjective “illegal” before “guns.” However, only a dupe would give him the benefit of doubt.

During the interview Smiley honestly questioned why the NRA had not defended the idea of children carrying guns (to mug law-abiding citizens one might conclude). Smiley was referring to Trayvon Martin and implying Martin needed a gun to defend himself the night Martin savagely attacked George Zimmerman—a law-abiding neighborhood watchman. Confirmed texts on Trayvon Martin’s phone exposed that Martin expressed interest in buying a gun Martin referred to as a “.380.” This irrefutable fact alone makes Smiley’s sincere criticism of the NRA downright alarming. Responsible adults do not endorse children (or troubled teenagers) carrying or handling handguns—without proper supervision of course.

Nevertheless, even removing illegal guns from the street would do nothing to address Smiley’s imaginary institutional contempt for black men—but why digress?

Highlighting Smiley’s disturbing disregard for reality, he returned to his ignorance of Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground Law. Smiley stoked the racial paranoia he ignited on ABC again on FOX News: “There are a lot of people who believe Zimmerman had the right to stand his ground, but the reality is Trayvon Martin did not have a right to stand his ground.”

Smiley’s bizarre fantasy has nothing to do with truth. Zimmerman did not attack Martin. Apparently, Smiley believes Trayvon Martin should have had the right to violently attack a legally armed citizen who was simply trying to determine where Martin was going and what he was doing.

Perhaps through divine intervention, Smiley accidentally concluded with a brilliant solution that every American and card-carrying NRA member would absolutely support. Of course, his statement needs to be clarified—and broadened—but every American who loves the constitution should support him.

He finally started shooting in the right direction: “Arm every black person in America, and then let’s see what the NRA has to say.” Lack of medication or disdain for America may explain Smiley’s rather restricted, racial, and unrefined suggestion, but who cares?  Little did he realize that with careful wordsmithing, his idea could become a real crime stopper.

Of course, because the NRA promotes diversity, the organization would have to drop the adjective “black” before “person” before it could get on board. A qualifying statement that only law-abiding Americans who can legally own guns should own them also needs to be included. Furthermore, just in case Smiley was implying any sort of government involvement to arm anyone, the NRA might stress that Americans should arm themselves and that the government should butt out—unless it is locking up armed criminals.

Government-issued firearms should remain a privilege for Americans willing to risk their lives on our behalf serving in the military or in law enforcement—ethnicity should have nothing to do with it. To Smiley’s point, perhaps the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus could join hands to privately raise money for any law-abiding American who may not currently have the funds to invest in a personal-protection firearm?

So long as no government funds become attached to this amended version of Smiley’s recommendation, this very well could become the proposal that unites this divided nation. Who cares if Bill O’Reilly thinks it is “a little extreme”?

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