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The Complicated History of Blacks and Gun Control

A few decades ago, “Gun Control” was code for controlling people who were not white.

Fordham University professor Nickolas Johnson  finds that pro-gun ownership groups have turned to black gun owners for support:

Targeting blacks is a new turn for the gun rights movement, but the arguments they’re using are not. For decades, black opponents of gun control have also been fighting their cause under the banner of civil rights, although their ranks have dwindled.

Armed self-defense had a critical role in the civil rights movement. In certain southern states, black-armed groups would guard voter drives and the homes of civil rights leaders. In her landmark reports on lynching, Ida B. Wells, a co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women, wrote, “a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every Black home” for the “protection which the law refuses to give.”

When Rosa Parks and her husband began organizing activist meetings in their home, she claims she had no place to put the refreshments “with the table so covered with guns.” Even Martin Luther King, Jr. applied for a concealed firearm permit, after his house was firebombed.

This tradition has shaped the politics of many black gun rights advocates. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said her defense of the second amendment is rooted in memories of growing up in Birmingham, Ala., when her father and his friends would guard their streets against white terror groups.

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