February 21 2017
A group of artists is urging law enforcement to stop using “menacing black silhouette” targets at the shooting range, claiming they contribute to “unconscious bias” and ultimately, to police violence against black people.
“The campaign seeks to eliminate the use of these targets, forever,” the initiative’s website says. The petition calls on the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors to start “getting rid of black targets at shooting ranges and replacing them with variations of more diverse target designs.”
The petition references a November 2015 University of Illinois study that found people were faster to shoot black targets than white ones, and that they also unloaded more bullets into black targets.
To raise awareness about “trigger bias” caused by black shooting targets, the group has encouraged its supporters to design colorful alternative targets, even offering a template on its website.
In late January, No More Black Targets put on an exhibit of its artistic targets at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The initiative has also put up street art of the targets on the Lower East Side, stretching between Houston and First. And over the weekend, alternative targets were displayed at a show at the Richard Taittinger Gallery in New York.
No More Black Targets did not respond to Heat Street’s request for comment, and the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors did not answer repeated inquiries about whether they’d change their standard targets. So far, the Change.org petition has garnered just over 230 signatures.
No More Black Targets isn’t the first group to claim that the type of targets used during practice can influence shooters’ behavior outside of the gun range.
In 2015, a Pennsylvania lawmaker unsuccessfully attempted to ban all targets showing a human form from shooting ranges in the state. Massachusetts law has long banned the use of targets at shooting ranges “that depict human figures, human effigies, human silhouettes or any human images thereof, except by public safety personnel performing in line with their official duties.” And a few shooting ranges run by Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources have also forbidden human-shaped targets, saying they are counterproductive to hunter safety.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.