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House Democrats walk out of the Capitol after their sit-in over gun-control law on June 23, 2016. (Image: Yuri Gripas / Reuters)
There is an element of racism associated with the American gun control movement, but its origins and proponents may be surprising to many.
Gun control has been racially-motivated since pre-revolutionary times
A recent academic study published by two professors at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) claimed white people in America own guns because they are inherently racist. That study was based in part on highly questionable data, including an earlier 2013 study by 4 foreign researchers whose conclusions were later exposed as being “completely false”.
While the UIC professor’s study may be rightfully dismissed as discredited liberal propaganda, there IS an element of racism associated with the American gun-control debate. That racism, however, did not originate with whites per-se, but rather from a political sub-section of whites who were the forerunners of today’s Democratic party.
Keeping blacks disarmed: the historical purpose behind gun control
Keeping blacks disarmed has been the underlying purpose of gun control since pre-revolutionary times. In 1751, the “French Black Code” required colonists in Louisiana to confront and beat any “black carrying any potential weapon”. If an armed black was on horseback and refused to stop, the code permitted the white colonist to “shoot to kill.”
When U.S. officials showed up in New Orleans in 1803 to take possession of their new purchase, white slave owners took efforts to disarm the city’s free black militia, and to exclude those “free blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms.” At the same time, the New Orleans city government took steps to stop whites from teaching free blacks how to defend themselves by fencing.
1833 Tennessee Supreme Court refused blacks the right to own guns, at the request of the Democratic party
In 1833, the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized the right to bear arms as an individual guarantee. However, at the request of local Democrats, the Tennessee state constitution was changed the following year from, “That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms”, to “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms.”
Elijah Newsom and the 1840 North Carolina statutory change that prohibited blacks from carrying a gun
An 1840 North Carolina statute, enacted by Democrats in that state, made it a crime for “any free negro, mulatto, or free person of color, [to] wear or carry about his or her person, or keep in his or her house, any shot gun, musket, rifle, pistol, sword, dagger or bowie-knife, unless he or she shall have obtained a license therefor.”
When Elijah Newsom, “a free person of color”, was arrested for carrying a shotgun without a license, the North Carolina Supreme Court, sympathetic to the democrat’s desire to disarm blacks entirely, modified the statute to replace the word “person” with “citizens”, a group from which Newsom, by virtue of his color, was excluded, despite his free status.
The KKK “began as a gun-control organization”
The end of slavery in 1865 did not end the democrat’s efforts to disarm blacks. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), which had been founded by southern democrats before the war to oppose northern abolitionist efforts, continued the party’s efforts to disarm their now-free black neighbors. Since blacks were now free citizens and protected by federal law, Democrats flocked to the KKK and the anonymity it provided behind its hoods. Following the war, KKK membership rolls read like the Democratic party voting rolls. In 2011, Adam Winkler spoke about the origins of gun control in his book, “Gun Fight”. “The KKK,” he noted, “began as a gun-control organization.”
Democratic efforts to disarm blacks continue today
The gun control debate continues to rage today. As they did in the days following the civil war, Democrats continue to argue for gun control. As they were both before and after that war, the group most negatively impacted by gun control continues to be black Americans.
According to a 2014 Pew survey, only 19 percent of black Americans owned a gun, while 41 percent of their white neighbors were armed.
According to a 2014 Pew survey, only 19 percent of black Americans owned a gun, while 41 percent of their white neighbors were armed. A 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report showed that, although blacks make up a smaller proportion of American citizens than their white counterparts, blacks had far greater risks of criminal victimization than either whites, Hispanics, or Asians.
While there are undoubtedly many social-economic factors contributing to black victimization, gun control is perhaps the most insidious. After more than a century of destructive policies imposed on them by the Democratic party, black Americans continue to overwhelmingly vote Democrat and in favor of gun control; a policy that was enacted by racists more than a century ago to keep their ancestors under Democrat control.
The racist element of gun-control must be claimed solely by the Democratic party
The racist element of gun control must be claimed solely by the Democratic party. Not all Democrats are racist. Undoubtedly, the vast majority are not. However, the origin of the gun control movement was racism, and that racism must be laid squarely on shoulders of the Democratic party, the historical party of slave owners.
The first Republican president was Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was the Republicans in Congress who authored the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments giving former slaves their citizenship, voting rights, and due process under the law. By contrast, it was Democrats who fought to uphold slavery before the civil war, authored the “Jim Crow” laws, and promoted segregation after the war had ended. When Republican President Dwight Eisenhower championed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, it was Democrats in the Senate who filibustered the bill.
“A good revolver, a steady hand and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap… Every slave hunter who meets a bloody death in his infernal business is an argument in favor of the manhood of our race.” – Frederick Douglass
For black Americans who support the Democrat party’s efforts at gun-control, the words of Frederick Douglass should be remembered. Speaking to both fugitives and freemen in 1854, Frederick Douglass explained that the purpose of a gun is to protect one’s freedom and liberty, “A good revolver, a steady hand and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap… Every slave hunter who meets a bloody death in his infernal business is an argument in favor of the manhood of our race.”
“The right to defend one’s home and one’s person when attacked has been guaranteed through the ages by common law.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Douglass’ words were echoed a century later by Martin Luther King Jr, who said in 1967, “The right to defend one’s home and one’s person when attacked has been guaranteed through the ages by common law.”
Martin Luther King Jr. himself once applied for a concealed carry permit. After King’s house was bombed in 1956, the clergyman applied in Alabama for a permit to carry a concealed gun.
It was denied under a gun control law enacted by Democratic lawmakers in that state.
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Keywords: Democratic party, Elijah Newsom, Frederick Douglass, gun control, Louisiana, Martin Luther King Jr, Supreme Court, UIC.