On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher and rapper and activist Michael Render, aka Killer Mike, discussed gun control. They argued that there is a racial component to gun control, questioned whether banning assault weapons is particularly important, and discussed the consistency of people on the left arguing for more gun control while believing President Trump is a tyrant.
Maher brought up gun control and said that because there weren’t any mass shootings this week, it’s now okay to talk about the issue. He quickly turned to the controversy over Render’s appearance on NRATV. Maher stated that liberals should respect diversity of opinion before saying, “I think liberals are going to have to come to terms with the fact that there’s a racial component to this debate.”
Render agreed. He cited a Washington Post article about the racial history of gun control laws and how they have been used to control people of color. After recapping the article, he added, “So pretty much, if I’m a white man in America, you’re telling me that by owning a gun, I am a part of law enforcement. What does that — what happens because of that? You kill black children because their music is loud. What happens when you’re that emboldened? You track a black boy behind a building, you engage him in a fight, you begin to lose, you murder him, and then you are let off the hook because of stand your ground.”
He then contrasted this with the case of Siwatu-Salama Ra.
Render further stated that African-Americans should “stop and have a conversation with your allies and say this, these laws are going to affect us worst and they’re going to affect us first. If you put more police in school, you’re going to see more African-American children engaged by police in a violent manner, the same way the little girl was slammed out of0 her desk, the same way the little girl was slammed at a pool party. And I’m simply saying to our allies, wait and let’s talk about it. Because laws that are introduced are going affect my community worst and first.”
Maher then said, “It’s a matter of self-reliance. Police don’t always show up in the poorer neighborhoods.”
Render agreed, stating, “They’re not going to show up in poorer neighborhoods. They’re not going to show up in rural neighborhoods. Because we underfund our police forces. They lack the training they properly need, and we don’t have the type of officers we need in the community.”
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich agreed with Render on the issue of unequal application of the law, but argued that an assault weapons ban and universal background checks are “critical.”
Maher and Render then questioned whether banning assault weapons is “critical.” Maher said that while he doesn’t like guns, he owns one because the police might not get there on time. He then said that while banning assault weapons is a good applause line, he isn’t sure that’s the big issue, given the number of deaths caused by rifles.
Render then said, “You’re saying to a population of people, ‘This guy is a tyrant. You’re living under tyrannical times,’ and you’re comparing him to Adolf Hitler. When you do that to my community, I must take it seriously. I must take it seriously. Because not only am I seeing gun violence around crime and poverty in my community, I am seeing officers of the state murder my children, murder my women. So, when we start to say, ‘Tyranny could never happen.’ If you’re African-American, tyranny is happening now. Not happening — not potentially happening, we are being murdered at a higher rate and engaged by agents of the state. And when we say assault weapons, we ignore the fact that the Second Amendment says in case of tyranny. If a soldier or a cop can own a version of an AR-15, I am not comfortable in a country where I am being asked to de-arm and they are not.”
Render further stated that there’s no such thing as an assault weapon.
Reich pointed to the definition used in the Assault Weapons Ban Act and stated the law decreased mass shootings.
Render countered by pointing to the disproportionate way laws end up enforced and talked about the 1994 Crime Bill. He added, “[T]o African-Americans, it is going to affect you first and worst if we simply jump on the bandwagon and say, ‘Pass all the laws –.’”
Maher then stated, “If you really believe that Donald Trump is an authoritarian leader, capable of using force to suppress the opposition, I wonder if liberals are going to be rethinking their feelings about guns a little bit.”
Reich responded by talking about Trump allies like Roger Stone discussing a civil war if Trump is impeached and argued that if people don’t stand up for the rule of law, there won’t be anything left. Maher agreed with this point.