New Campaign Seeks to End Use of Black Targets at Gun Ranges

This is real.

A new campaign has launched seeking to end the use of black targets at gun ranges. If you've ever visited the gun range, you know there are an array of targets you can select and purchase while you practice your marksmanship. I have an old Osama bin Laden target riddled with bullet holes on my refrigerator.  A few months ago I selected a cartoon scene of a barn with various animals (don't shoot the animals!) for my practice.

And there is the standard silhouette target. It looks like this:

According to the campaign, the black target leads to trigger bias.

Young black men are 3X more likely to be shot by trained shooters than their white peers. A disturbing potential correlation: The most popular target for shooters to learn to use their firearm is a black silhouette. Unconscious bias can be deadly."

There is even an academic study to "back it up."

An academic study published by University of Illinois researchers drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

"What we found is that it does," Mekawi told NPR's Arun Rath, who covered the story.

"In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And ... people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets."

That is, shooters weren't just faster to fire at black targets; they were also more likely to fire at a black target. This petition seeks to eliminate the use of the most popular target for shooters to learn to use their firearm: a menacing black silhouette.

The campaign consists of artists working in various mediums.

No More Black Targets is a collective of artists, diverse in backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities, working in paint, digital media, patternmaking and also physical installations to bring new artwork to life. The collective stand for “More paint. Less hate.”

Some of those targets are pretty cool -- I'd frame one and hang it on my wall. But as far as using them at the range, I am quicker to shoot at things when I have the most visible color contrast. It would take me longer to figure out exactly where I want to shoot if my target can blend in with its surroundings and I am being timed on my reflexes and accuracy. Does this translate into shooting more black people because people tend to train on black targets? I don't think we have persuasive evidence based on the information I've been able to read about the study, for which I refuse to pay.

“[We] coded the cities in which the data was collected by how permissive the gun laws were,” Yara Mekawi said. “And we used the Brady Law campaign, which gives basically states a score … being very permissive, this means that, you know, they didn’t require background checks in the same way that other, more strict states might or have other limitations on who’s allowed to purchase a gun.”

Background checks are federally mandated, so states don't have their own background checks -- they are all run through the NICS system. Perhaps they are referring to states that allow private sales where consenting adults engage in mutually agreeable, legal, constitutionally protected transactions that do not include background checks. Or perhaps they are referring to states that have a waiting period to purchase a firearm.

"Basically, what we found was that in states that had relatively permissive gun laws, the shooting threshold for black targets was lower than for white targets," the study's author said in an interview with NPR a few years ago.

Still this doesn't connect being more likely to shoot at a black target to being more likely to shoot an actual black human being. In fact, police shoot more white people than black people. And what does "ease of access" to firearms according to the idiots at the Brady mafia have to do with with shooting African Americans and shooting black targets? This is what happens when gun-ignorant people cover firearms topics. They don't know enough to ask the right questions.

The No More Black Targets group has a petition if you are interested in signing it: petition.