BY MAL’AKIY 17 ALLAH
Special to the AmNews
The upsurge in violence during the pandemic throughout the past couple years has caused concern for many of New York City’s citizens. Due to this fact, the “Fitness, Fuel and Fire” outfit sponsored a very informative gun safety forum at Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building (163 W. 125th St.) this past Friday evening where five expert panelists discussed the topic. Legal ownership and proper training of firearms was the main theme.
“I want to train Black people, so they can also teach their children,” stated Kwasi Asante, a firearm instructor and competition shooter. He added that Black people should be prepared for any potential enemies because “we only make up 13% of the population.”
The U.S. Constitution grants all citizens the legal right to possess guns.
“There is a 2nd Amendment right, since 2008, for us to bear arms in self-defense,” informed sister Julia Jenkins from the Bronx’s Legal Aid Society, who wrote the amicus brief which overturned New York’s gun law.
She also mentioned that being convicted of gun possession is a “Class C violent felony, carrying a three-year minimum sentence. What we’re seeing in New York is that people are being aggressively prosecuted for mere possession of a firearm.”
She added how gun suspects “receive high bails,” and that convictions “cause discrimination in education, employment and housing” opportunities, and also devastate household compositions.
Firearms instructor, Gabriella Muhammad, suggested training children by “dry firing” (guns without bullets) so they become acquainted with handling guns at an early age, and not be intimidated by them, then “advancing to live ammo as they mature.”
Attorney Robert Schecter commented about a recent court ruling: “In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court said that if you’re going to evaluate laws against the 2nd Amendment, we have to look at them in the lens of its tradition, which meant, if you pass a law, it had to be in effect in 1776, which means most, if not all, gun regulation laws would be unconstitutional.”
He added that gun carrying permits are only given in specific cases, like “if you are able to establish some special need greater than the general public [business owners or security] and the people in your neighborhood. The people in power wanted to limit who could [legally] get guns.”
He also mentioned the process those previously convicted for crimes have to go through in order to have their rights restored, and that they must file a Certificate of Relief from Disability.
“If you’ve been convicted of one or less felonies [misdemeanors], and you were not sent to state prison, you can go to the courts,” he noted. “If you were sentenced to state prison, you have to apply at the department of corrections [to restore your rights].”
Moderator Batim Asante urged, “We’re gonna have to use proper language [in court]. You can’t be denied that, and once you have that in hand, along with the disposition that comes with it, you should be on the road [to getting your rights restored].”
For those denied a gun permit, attorney Schecter suggested, “Go to court and file a Supreme Court action called an ‘Article 78 action,’ which you have less than a 50% chance there. You can apply for a Certificate of Civil Disposition in the courts.”
Asante suggested people read a sheet of paper he made available from “an extraordinary session in the senate, cause it will tell you all the new, absurd, Draconian laws that they implemented,” regarding gun rights.
He added, “For the majority, women can get their gun permits [easier than men] cause they really don’t get into too many problems with the law, so you’re in a wonderful position. I encourage every woman in here [to get their gun permits]. This is not just a feel-good meeting about firearms. Be proactive to take advantage of this conversation.”