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Sam on Let it Rip

Sam on Let it Rip

Condoms or guns?

By Sam Riddle
The Michigan Citizen

It was live TV. The subject matter was the ubiquitous “stand your ground” laws that are used to justify the whacking of those who foolishly invade the space of the armed citizenry. Matter of fact “stand your ground,” coupled with “no duty to retreat,” is the new death penalty in states like Michigan that do not have the death penalty.

Detroit police chief “Hollywood Craig” has given his blessing to law-abiding citizens firing away when they feel threatened. I understand. The headlines heighten the fear that holds Detroit hostage. A senior beaten to death by teens while store workers cower; a carjacking by teens ends in the death of a jacker, and, of course there are the run of the mill shoot ‘em ups and drive-bys.

One of the guests on the TV show had shot and killed a would-be jacker that was driving off with his vehicle after flashing a gun; the other guest, was a law professor. They intended to give me a media beat down.

Pretty quick on the draw myself, I disarmed that crew when I unraveled a roll of condoms and held them before the cameras declaring, “We will save more lives in Detroit with condoms than guns.”

It was a wrap.

The city of Detroit, with at last count 778 HIV cases per 100,000 people, makes random sex a very life-threatening proposition much more than gunplay. A high HIV rate is classified as 90 or more cases per 100,000 residents. Detroit’s HIV level is 800 percent more than the norm for a high HIV level. People are getting infected. People are dying. Simple use of a condom (the real bullet proof vest) will save more Detroit lives than wild-west gun cowboyism advocated by a media intoxicated cop.

Want to fight crime? Fight poverty. Systemic poverty is the most deadly form of violence in Detroit. But we’re talking about the right of citizens to bear arms. I get it.

I wrote every word of a speech interrupted by a dozen standing ovations delivered by the late Colorado Secretary of State Vikki Buckley to the 1999 NRA National Convention in Denver, Colo., days after the Columbine Massacre. C-Span and the NRA have videos. With me, as Buckley and I walked to the convention, was Rev. Michael Shoels whose son Isaiah was the only Black student killed at Columbine. I was the family spokesman for the Shoels, standing with Charlton Heston and NRA leadership as thousands demonstrated against the NRA a couple of blocks away at the state capitol.

Look, folk have a right to defend themselves and others consistent with 2nd Amendment guaranties. I do object to the devaluation of Black life that has made it open season on Black Americans. I object to how someone can use the “no duty to retreat” to be an aggressor that kills for reasons other than real fear that they are in danger of losing their own life.

I can still hear my words as spoken by Buckley to the thousands at the NRA convention 15 years ago (excerpted):

“…Isn’t it ironic that many who would run you (NRA) out of town would themselves be unable to even vote had we as a nation not honored all provisions of the United States Constitution?

To them I say, shame on you!

I stand before you today as one who has worked closely with the family of Isaiah Shoels. Isaiah was the Columbine High School student who was killed in part because of the color of his skin.

I must agree with Isaiah’s father, Michael, who has stated that guns are not the issue. Hate is what pulls the trigger of violence.

We are witnesses to new age hate crimes, which we must eliminate if we are to remain the greatest nation on earth.

What is a new age hate crime?

When our children leave for school without a value system that places a premium on human life — we are accessories to a new age hate crime.

Parents, when you raise your children and send them to school without a value system that teaches the difference between right and wrong, then parents we have committed a new age hate crime.

I say to those who run our schools, when you allow children to graduate who are technologically and functionally illiterate — you have committed a new age hate crime because those children are destined to be economically tortured to death as though they had been chained and dragged behind a pickup truck in Jasper, Tex.

Those who would run the NRA out of town need to look at our own children who are engaging in irresponsible sex and having children they cannot take care of. Such irresponsible sex is a new age hate crime — raise as much heck about that as you do the NRA and you will save more lives in five years than are taken with guns in a century…”

The real disgrace is we do not have a community value system that requires intervention to prevent harm to another human. That may mean neighborhood patrols, stepping up when a senior is being beaten, or using condoms.

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director of Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at or Twitter at 

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