There is a clear correspondence between gun usage and community-police relationships in the United States: when people trust the police more, they carry fewer weapons. Cunningham et al. (2021) research show that adolescents who do not trust the police tend to carry guns. Such tendency is especially strong among Black adolescents, which corresponds to the current situation: there are mass protests against police violence, racial inequity, and social injustice now. They reduce the level of trust between the community and police and, thus, increase violence. While more than 90% of pro-BLM protests in 2020-2021 were peaceful, both protesters and anti-protesters formed armed groups (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, 2021). It further reduces the police-community trust and can lead, in potential, to escalated violence. Thus, the problem of mistrust between police and the community is very likely to increase and worsen once appearing.
Perhaps, there are two reasons: first, people think that the police will not defend them in the case of an emergency. Mass protests lead to increased violence, and people tend to carry weapons to ensure that they will secure themselves. Second, as the current mass protests are primarily against police violence, many people initially did not believe in the police. Among those who believe, many people arm themselves because they think that police cannot stop the mass violent protest; thus, they should act by themselves and rely only on themselves. They form militia groups to defend property from aggressive protesters; more than half of armed demonstrations in 2020-2021 involved such groups (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, 2021). In that way, even if they have a good attitude toward police initially, it worsens as the protests continue, although for a different reason. As one can conclude, it is essential to maintain communication and good relationships between communities and police, to ensure trust and reduce the violence during mass protests.
Cunningham, M. C., Cobbina, J. E., Melde, C., Abad, D., Almanza, M., Goldstick, J. E., Zimmerman, M. A., & Heinze, J. E. (2021). Attitudes towards police and weapon carriage among adolescents. American Journal of Criminal Justice. Published. Web.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. (2021). Armed assembly: Guns, demonstrations, and political violence in America. Everytown Research & Policy. Web.