With one of the core part of the mission for The Liberal Gun Club being training and outreach to non-traditional gun owners of all stripes, we have folks reaching out to us regularly about things they notice, seeking help finding trainers and places to shoot that are welcoming to minorities, and a variety of other things. Sometimes something is brought up that we’ve meant to write about for awhile now, but due to other things taking up time and effort, they get put on the backburner.
So today, the topic of conversation is implicit bias in the Firearms industry. We’ve talked about implicit bias on this blog previously. Before we get there, let’s recall what exactly implicit bias is and why it’s a bad thing. Implicit bias is the unconscious evaluation of things as “good” and “bad” based on various characteristics which do not, in fact, have any such intrinsic values. In this context, it’s race:
With depressing frequency, the majority of subjects make the black-equals-bad and white-equals-good associations more accurately and more quickly than the other way around.
In terms of the firearms industry and law enforcement, this is massively problematic. As testing and real world results show, it means that people may be more prone to shoot people of color as they subconsciously associate people of color (and African American men in particular) with “bad”, “violent”, “angry”, or “dangerous.” This has the result of folks being quicker on the trigger and more lives being lost.
How does all this tie back to the topic? The tools we use can help to either reinforce these subconscious reactions or to not. When the training aids being used by departments or instructors have African American physical characteristics (even when they are subtle, such as darker skin showing under a ski mask), it can dehumanize them in the minds of the trainee. When more than 90% of the terrorist training targets appear to be Muslim, that will influence the conscious or unconscious mind of the people doing the drills. (Please note that we are purposefully not linking to these products, as it is easy to find them with a simple search and we do not wish to be seen as promoting them in any way.)
Is it intentional on the part of the target companies, the trainers, or the police? We’d like to think not. Prejudice dies hard- how many of the companies that create these tools think about it when they create this stuff? Probably not all of them to be sure. But to be sure, at a minimum, implicit bias is weighing in on the creation of these training aids, which is then furthering implicit bias down the road. We can do better. We should do better. It’s time for some soul searching on this stuff so that change can be implemented. We hope that departments and instructors will start looking for training aids which do not further these social stigmas and that our readers will think about this when seeking training.