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Death and Taxes

Killer Mike’s Full NRA Interview Is Still Disingenuous

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 23: Killer Mike of Run The Jewels performs onstage on day 3 of FYF Fest 2017 at Exposition Park on July 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for FYF)

Killer Mike recently went on NRATV, the NRA’s online streaming channel, to talk about the issue of gun control with channel host and fellow pro-gun activist Colion Noir. An excerpt of the interview released on March 22nd, timed to coincide with the March For Our Lives protest, showed Killer Mike decrying the mass walkouts by students a week earlier in protest of gun violence. “I told my kids on the school walkout: ‘I love you—if you walk out that school, walk out my house. We are a gun owning family.” The clip was immediately controversial, especially among Mike’s largely liberal fanbase (he was an early celebrity endorser of Bernie Sanders), due to its callous attitude towards those protests.

Killer Mike promptly responded with an apology, arguing that the video was “used in the wrong way” by the NRA. Today, Noir posted the entire 42-minute interview, providing the full context of Mike’s statements. “We’re here to make people mad,” he jokes at the beginning of the conversation, and he wasn’t far off. However, it’s not the pro-gun statements that inspire ire but instead the disingenuousness of the conversation between the two. Despite Mike’s claim that the NRA used clips from his interview in a way he didn’t intend, the full thing doesn’t make him look much better; often it just finds Mike doing promo for the NRA. “I look at the NRA as an effective lobbying group for my rights. If you don’t like the NRA, get a million black people to join. Go to the convention. Realize that this ain’t white people in hoods—just regular working class people like you that are probably going to be friendly and engage you. And then add your thoughts to the agenda.” Mike parrots much of the conservative, pro-NRA conspiratorial talking points; painting a picture not of responsible gun control and ownership but fears and propaganda about banning all guns.

Across the 42 minutes, Mike does make some solid points about why an individual might want to own a gun, particularly within the African American community. “As a unit, we have done more to protect our rights and freedoms with a gun than we are credited for,” he says. But he almost completely ignores the actual desires of many people who are interested in responsible gun ownership—such as sensible gun regulation and a restriction of assault weapons—as well as the questions of why a high magazine rifle is even necessary, much less easy to buy. “You wanna ban a gun because it looks scary,” he argues. “Handguns kill more people in America than rifles, and Coca-Cola and soda kills more people than handguns. You’re not trying to ban soda, and you’re not even smart enough to have the argument to ban handguns.” This is classic conversation-shifting. Like many gun rights activists, Mike merely turns the conversation into one about fears of a tyrannical government taking all citizens’ guns at will.

Much of the interview disregards mass murders in America. It matters that guns are incredibly easy to get in this country and it matters that America has the highest gun violence of any developed nation; that can’t be ignored in favor of dystopic fears about guns being banned. Whatever empathy the men have for the Parkland students and any other casualties of gun violence seem almost like an aside–a footnote to their real fears about any revision of second amendment rights. “I don’t trust the greater public to take care of my best interests,” Mike argues. “I can’t take you at my best interests because we treat children that are protesting against gun violence as heroes but we treat children who are protesting in Ferguson as criminals.” He’s right that the coverage of the Parkland protestors versus that of Ferguson protestors was unequal, but this line of attack also uses a different, and entirely legitimate, issue to sidestep the difficult questions regarding limiting access to guns. The interview becomes nothing more than a debate about Democrats, their allies and “woke culture.” “You are a lackey of the progressive movement,” Mike says to the audience, “because you have never disagreed with the people that tell you what to do.” He argues that any of his fans who are anti-gun are merely parrots of the Democratic party, but will be break rank with the NRA?

Killer Mike believes in home protection and gun training, which are reasonable, but to not even be willing to discuss the real problems with our current system feels insincere. It’s particularly galling that he chose to make his arguments in a forum that, in any form, amounts to NRA propaganda. There is room to question the systemic issues within America that have lead to much of our gun violence while also actively working to prevent catastrophes like Parkland from happening, and it would be more beneficial for Mike, as a visible progressive, to have this discussion with someone who is going to challenge him. The gun debate is not going away and both sides have arguments to make; this, however, is just 42 minutes of the same same NRA talking points.

The full interview can be watched below: