Rapper, activist, and social thinker Michael Santiago Render, aka Killer Mike, talked about the importance of gun ownership in the black community and the historical and contemporary restrictions placed upon the race in the U.S. in a Friday night appearance on HBO's Real Time with host Bill Maher. Killer Mike became the target of liberal ire after he appeared on NRA TV shortly after the Parkland shooting to defend gun rights and to explain why told his children not to participate in the school walkouts for gun control. (Watch his full appearance here.)
When fellow guest panelist Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, chimed in to say the Assault Weapons Ban needs to be reinstated he was rebuffed by Maher, and then Killer Mike, who noted that most gun crimes are not committed with assault weapons. The HBO host said only 400 gun deaths last year were done by rifles and the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shooting, the deadliest school shooting ever, used handguns. Killer Mike told Reich there is no such thing as "assault weapons" and that they are just "rifles that look scary."
Transcript of the full 8-minute discussion where Killer Mike makes his case that if police and military are allowed to own and use AR-15 weapons and the like than the general populace should also have access:
BILL MAHER: I want to talk about a subject that is not in the news this week which is guns because you can never talk about guns when it is in the news. You know, in those rare weeks when we're not having a shooting this is the time -- we're in-between shootings -- let's talk about it now.
You got into a little trouble when you were on NRA TV and you said -- it was that walkout day when the Parkland kids were having a demonstration all over the country, kids were walking out of school -- and you told your kids: we're a gun-owning family, don't walk out of that school.
KILLER MIKE: We're not doing that.
MAHER: And I said the next that's perfectly your right to say it. Okay, I'm not going to start on the PC nonsense of not being able to speak your mind and diversity of thought. But we should have diversity of thought and I think that liberals are going to have to come to terms that there is a racial component to this debate.
KILLER MIKE: Oh yeah.
Ameer Loggins and Christopher Petrella wrote about, a week after my time on the whipping post, about African-American gun ownership. They wrote an article in The Washington Post called Killer Mike might be right and it specifically highlighted that over the last 300 or 400 years how gun laws were not used against African-Americans and indigenous populations but created to control them.
Going back to the 1600s, if you had a gunsmith store and you were any type of metalsmith you could not work legally on an Indian's gun. Fast-forward -- they had slave patrols, not slave patrols because slavery was over -- they had literally, they deputized all white citizens in Florida to be able to go into black households and take guns out arbitrarily. Which is lends itself to [U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions] that 'Anglo-American history' was law enforcement.
So pretty much if I am a white man in America you're telling me that by owning a gun I am part of law enforcement. 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. At the same time, a black woman named Siwatu-Salama Ra is in Detroit. She is in an argument, as people get into all the time in Detroit, Atlanta, towns in other places where cars and people are involved. She feels as though she is threatened. She is about to be hit by a car, the car appears to about to ram her. She pulls an unloaded pistol, makes a threat -- the same way somebody tell you to do this [raises his arms] if you see a bear coming, just make whatever is threatening scared of you. She is now in jail for 2 years while 7 months pregnant. She didn't engage; they were engaging one another. She didn't track a child. She didn't murder that child. She is not free.
So what I was saying on NRA TV and any other TV that would have heard me is that African-Americans to align themselves with the gun-law lobby stop and have a conversation with your allies and say this: these laws are going to affect us worse and they are going to affect us first.
If you put more police in school, you are going to see more African-American children engaged by police in a violent matter. The same way the little girl that was slammed out of 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 to affect my community worse and first and I'd be a fool --
MAHER: It's a matter of self-reliance, police don't always show up.
KILLER MIKE: Absolutely.
MAHER: In the poorer neighborhoods.
KILLER MIKE: They're not going to show up in poorer neighborhoods, they are 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 communities.
ROBERT REICH, FMR. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I couldn't agree with you more in terms of equal rights. I mean, let's face it, this is not a country that distinguishes itself with equal rights on a racial basis. But there is a difference between that point I think and maintaining that we have to get rid of assault weapons, we've got to have universal background checks. That is absolutely critical.
KILLER MIKE: When you say that is --
MAHER: Why is that absolutely critical?
KILLER MIKE: Yeah, why is that critical?
MAHER: Why is that critical? Because one of the problems gun people have with liberals talking about guns is that liberals don't know what they're talking about guns.
KILLER MIKE: At all.
MAHER: I'm not a gun expert. I don't like guns. I've said many times that I have a gun, because self-reliance. And because the police might not get there, yada yada yada.
But there was I think only 400 deaths from all types of rifles last year. I don't know if that is the key issue. It's a big applause break for liberals when you say assault weapons, but the Virginia Tech shooting was the biggest one ever and that was a handgun.
KILLER MIKE: And you're saying to a population of people, and I know you are understanding me on this, you are saying to a population of people this guy is a tyrant, you're living in tyrannical times and you are comparing [President Donald Trump] 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 see it officers of the state murder my children, murder my women.
So when we start to say, 'tyranny can never happen,' if you're African-American, tyranny is happening now. Not happening -- not potential 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'm not comfortable in a country where I'm being asked to be unarmed and they are not.
REICH: Let me just say, in terms of assault weapons --
KILLER MIKE: They are no such things, also. They are rifles that look scary --
REICH: They were defined in 1994 in the Assault Weapons Ban which went into effect and I was there and all I know is that for the 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, when the Republicans got rid of the Assault Weapons Ban there was a 42% drop in mass killings, defined as killings of 5 people or more at the same time.
Now, you can define assault weapons any way you want but I am just telling you that we had a law. Let's go back to the law.
KILLER MIKE: But we come right back around to law and what law looks like when applied. In 1994, we also had a crime bill. That crime bill made 5 grams of crack equal to a half of brick of cocaine. I saw tons of black men and women wiped off the streets with sentences they didn't deserve simply because the leaders in the African-American community didn't say to their allies, stop, wait, let's see how that is going to affect me first. So this is a nation of laws, but, again, to 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: But when you talk about tyranny... I've been saying for a long time that Donald Trump is bringing fascism to this country. Madeleine Albright wrote an op-ed in the New York Times a few weeks ago saying the same thing. She said fascism is coming. Okay. The shoe's on the other foot now. 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.