The Racism of Gun Control
By Matthew Vadum
Black conservative leaders warn that new gun control proposals threaten Americans’ most fundamental civil rights.
Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), recalled the racist pedigree of gun control laws and the grave dangers they create, not just for blacks, but for all Americans.
“I believe that it is our duty to stand together and challenge the proposals currently on the table in the Senate, which invoke painful memories of Jim Crow laws and black codes,” said Parker.
“Black history is rife with government demands for background checks in order to qualify for constitutional rights,” she said at a Washington, D.C. press conference. “All Americans should be concerned.”
The effort to stem further gun control measures comes as left-wing legislators lead a crackdown on the Second Amendment.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), author of the now-expired 1994 assault weapons ban, has introduced proposed legislation banning 157 specific weapons, magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges, and other weapons with features such as a folding stock, pistol grip, or detachable magazines. The Senate Judiciary Committee began considering four gun control bills last week.
Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said the committee will continue voting on the measures this week.
Second Amendment supporters recently rallied across the country at the “Day of Resistance,” a series of protests against the 23 constitutionally dubious executive actions on gun control that President Obama issued in January.
The protests took place after Democrat Joe Salazar, a Colorado state representative, said college women are trigger-happy and can’t be trusted with guns because they’re not smart enough to know when they’re about to be raped.
CURE, which describes itself as the largest black conservative think tank in the nation, argues that legislation pending in the U.S. Senate will limit citizens’ ability to defend themselves, their property, and their families. They also worry that the proposed measures place too much power in the hands of politicians.
CURE plans to hold senators to account by letting urban pastors, business leaders, and other black voters know how lawmakers stand on the Second Amendment — especially Democratic senators soon up for reelection in traditionally Republican states.
Regardless of the intentions of gun-control supporters, every new anti-gun regulation hurts law-abiding Americans. Waiting periods, for example, leave battered women vulnerable to their abusers and shopkeepers at the mercy of street thugs illegally toting guns.
Throughout American history gun control has been used to disarm those without political power, leaving inner-city blacks and poor people in crime-ridden neighborhoods helpless at the hands of criminals.
Today, gun control, enacted under the guise of public safety, is being used to disarm citizens. This has the effect, intended or not, of removing the check on tyrannical government that an armed populace provides. Providing this counter-balance to government power is the primary purpose of the Second Amendment.
Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), doesn’t buy the public safety argument pushed by anti-gun politicians.
“For black Americans, we know that gun control has ultimately been about people control,” he said. “It sprouts from racist soil; be it after the, or during the infamous Dred Scott case where black man’s humanity was not recognized.” (A helpful timeline tracking 1640 to 1995 shows the history of legislative efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of black Americans.)
Figuratively standing on the corpses of the 26 people murdered by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Democrats and leftist groups have been cynically parading shooting victims and their relatives before legislative panels across America. One of the more odious proposals left-wingers are promoting is universal background checks which could be tantamount to gun registration.
Stacy Swimp, president of the Frederick Douglass Society, said “there’s a direct correlation between gun control and black people control.” Early gun laws “were put into place to register black folks, to make sure that they would know who we were — that we could not defend ourselves.” (It was former slave and orator Frederick Douglass who said, “A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.”)
Black Chamber of Commerce president Harry Alford praised the National Rifle Association, noting its historic role in protecting black Americans.
“The National Rifle Association was started, founded by religious leaders who wanted to protect free slaves from the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “They would raise money, buy arms, show the free slaves how to use those arms and protect their families. God bless you. Many of us probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the NRA.”
As historian Michael Zak explained in his book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, after the Civil War ended Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment, formally abolishing slavery. Democrats in southern states countered by enacting laws aimed at maintaining control over the ex-slaves.
Zak notes that these “black codes” typically prohibited African-Americans not only from owning guns, but also from operating their own businesses, assembling without authorization, being on the street after nightfall, or traveling without permission from their white employers.
He said the black code in effect in Mississippi stated that “no freedman, free Negro or mulatto, not in the military . . . and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry firearms of any kind, or any ammunition…”
“The black codes were abolished, in theory, by the GOP’s 1866 Civil Rights Act, and in practice, by the GOP’s 1868 Reconstruction Act,” Zak says.
After the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, Democrats strained to find new ways to prevent freed blacks from getting their hands on guns, writes Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute.
Because the new 14th Amendment forbade any state to deny “the equal protection of the laws,” gun control statutes aimed at blacks could no longer be written in overtly racial terms. Instead, the South created racially neutral laws designed to disarm freedmen. Some laws prohibited inexpensive firearms while protecting more expensive military guns owned by former Confederate soldiers. Meanwhile, other laws imposed licensing systems or carry restrictions. As a Florida Supreme Court justice later acknowledged, these laws were “never intended to be applied to the white population” (Watson v. Stone, 1941).
Meanwhile, anti-gun rights proposals are now being considered in various states including Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, and Washington.
President Obama has been interfering in state politics by using his Saul Alinsky-inspired nonprofit group, Organizing for Action, to attack Second Amendment rights in state legislatures. Until recently Organizing for Action (formerly Organizing for America) had been a project of the Democratic National Committee.
After the massacre in Connecticut, New York limited semiautomatic rifle magazines to seven cartridges. Egged on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a strident left-wing Democrat who wants to be president someday, lawmakers were not deterred by the fact that there is no such thing as a seven-round semiautomatic rifle magazine.
The Supreme Court has blown away gun grabbers in recent years. In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the high court struck down the draconian ban on gun ownership that had long been in effect in the nation’s capital. The court found for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia affirming what serious constitutional scholars had known for years.
The court followed up in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, making it clear that the individual right to keep and bear arms acknowledged in the Heller ruling applies to the states as well. That 2010 decision quashed a Chicago city ordinance banning the possession of handguns. Along with civil rights opponents in the Illinois state legislature, Chicago’s thug mayor Rahm Emanuel and his predecessor began fighting the ruling the day it was rendered.
Even liberal constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe reluctantly concedes that –at a minimum– the Second Amendment safeguards the individual right of Americans to “possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.”
Perhaps the left-wingers agitating for more gun control should listen to Professor Tribe.