The modern gun control movement is steeped in contradiction; overcome with mysticism and self-aggrandizement. Fallacy drips from anti-gun arguments like anti-freeze drips from my 1996 Honda Accord. Of all the comedic claims made in the effort to restrict the rights of others, none has been more egregious than the claim that gun control will serve to protect. That’s a bold challenge, I know, seeing as how it’s the fundamental tenet of the gun control argument. Surely, it will be a difficult pillar to topple.
In 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr received the news while giving a speech that his home had been destroyed by what we would call today a terrorist bombing. That same year, Dr. King applied for a concealed carry permit. Even a peace advocate as strong as King felt the need to be able to protect himself from those who would not see reason. As a man of peace with clear reason to fear for his life, one would think King a fine candidate for lawfully carrying a firearm to protect himself. Alabama police did not, however, and denied him that right.
This didn’t stop King, though. Unable to carry, himself, King came to rely on armed followers to safeguard him. The effort, unfortunately, was not ultimately successful, but his example speaks volumes to the way gun control has been used right here in the “Land of the Free.”
A common argument made against the restriction of gun ownership is that the 2nd amendment sets that right in stone; that the fundamental building block of democracy is the willingness of the people to fight to protect their rights. Citing examples such as Syria, Libya, and Iran, gun rights advocates can point to nations today where armed citizens are fighting or have recently fought for freedom. The common counterclaim is that such a thing isn’t an issue in America. The great irony of that response is that gun control advocates have, traditionally, been the same people oppressing others right here at home for 150 years.
Before the Civil war pit brother against brother, many states had what were then called ‘slave codes.’ These codes prohibited the ownership of firearms by slaves, naturally to prevent their uprising. By the time the Civil War had ended, however, many blacks had taken up arms on both sides. Once freed, the law of the land would have defaulted to the Bill of Rights. ‘Slave codes’ were promptly rewritten into ‘Black codes,’ to prevent the ‘wrong kinds of people’ from owning arms. According to the Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference, held in Paris in August of 1867, the disarmament of blacks was used specifically to prevent them from defending themselves against assaults. Unarmed, blacks were easily kept in their place.
Fast forward one hundred years to May of 1967. Thirty armed members of the original Black Panthers Party marched up the steps of the California Capitol, pausing briefly for Bobby Seale to issue the following statement:
“The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense calls upon the American people in general and the black people in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature which is now considering legislation aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of black people.
Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetrated against black people. All of these efforts have been answered by more repression, deceit, and hypocrisy. As the aggression of the racist American government escalates in Vietnam, the police agencies of America escalate the repression of black people throughout the ghettos of America. Vicious police dogs, cattle prods, and increased patrols have become familiar sights in black communities. City Hall turns a deaf ear to the pleas of black people for relief from this increasing terror.”
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense believes that the time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”
The demonstration rattled plenty of cages, but ended peacefully. The Panthers were there protesting the Mulford Act, a law designed specifically to declaw them. Formed six months earlier, the Black Panthers had become one of the forefront police watchdog groups in America. Disenfranchised with the stalemate of the civil rights movement, (Legislative progress had brought, in their minds, no actual change) the armed Panthers took to the streets. At the time, no law restricted the carrying of a loaded weapon in public. The Panthers used these firearms to inoculate themselves from police harassment. In turn, they were able to follow police officers and watch for signs of abuses with relative impunity; they were breaking no laws, and were able to defend themselves if attacked. Thus, they were not attacked. At least, not often.
The sudden appearance of armed blacks struck a nerve, especially as racial unrest grew to a fevered pitch, including rioting in Detroit and Newark. The solution was obvious to lawmakers: Rather than address the issues creating the tension that resulted in violence, they would disarm the population.
The simple fact of the matter is that gun control is, at its core, a method of oppression, as Stefan B. Tahmassebi writes in the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal:
“The history of gun control in the United States has been one of discrimination, oppression, and arbitrary enforcement. Although the purported legislative intent behind gun control statutes was to decrease crime and violence and thereby ensure public safety, the primary purpose was to keep blacks, immigrants, and native Americans in check. If, as the white establishment believed, blacks and other minorities generally could not be trusted, they certainly could not be trusted with arms and ammunition. Those in power wielded gun control laws in efforts to preserve their monopoly on the instruments of force.”
Gun control has never “protected” anyone who was prevented from owning a weapon. The real question Americans need to ask themselves is “Who gains from my disarmament?”