Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is gun control really about race?

I doubt you'll hear the Illinois State Rifle Association raising these arguments in public, but this column by author Kristian Williams and activist Peter Little takes a look at the historical racial undertones of the gun control debate in America.

Talking About Guns, Fighting About Race is an eye-opener:
Truth is, there has always been gun control in America. Starting in the colonial period and continuing after the American Revolution, laws excluded specific people from gun ownership — slaves, free blacks, Indians, poor whites, non-Protestants and even some heterodox Protestant sects.

During the same period, militias — which never performed particularly well in military engagements — were chiefly responsible for putting down insurrections. And in the South, they were responsible for organizing slave patrols to police the black population.

After the Civil War, Southern states sought to preserve this tradition by instituting “black codes” that barred blacks from owning guns, land or businesses. At the same time, terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan continued the work of the slave patrols, using violence to restrict blacks’ travel, suppress their political activity and disarm them.


And more recently...

In Watson v. Stone (1941), the Florida Supreme Court overturned the gun conviction of a white man. Justice Rivers Buford wrote in his concurring opinion: “The Act was passed for the purpose of disarming negro laborers. … [It] was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”

A quarter century later, in 1967, California passed its Panther Law, with the specific aim of ending the Black Panthers’ armed patrols against police brutality.

White supremacy has refined its presentation since the civil rights period, relying increasingly on nominally colorblind laws. Yet many gun regulations — bans on guns in housing projects and laws that take the cheapest pistols off the market, for example — have continued to disproportionately affect people of color.

Concluding...

Many liberals trust the state to respect the rights of individuals and to protect them against crime and disorder. They see no role for private gun ownership under the rule of law.

Many conservatives retain some suspicion of government regulation and don’t believe the state capable of protecting decent law-abiding people. They see gun ownership both as an emblem of citizenship and as a protection against those they view as criminals — historically, blacks and, at present, immigrants.

The disagreement is over who should have guns.

The point of agreement is over who shouldn’t.

As presently construed, both the gun-control and the gun-rights arguments — that is, both the liberal and the conservative positions — represent the defense of white supremacy.

Like I said, you won't hear the Illinois State Rifle Association making this argument. But logically I have to concede that if a white man has a constitutional right to protect his family and his home, so does a black man, even if he was convicted of some unrelated crime. Especially if that crime neither involved a gun nor was violent.

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40 Comments:

Blogger Burkdaddy said...

Part of the reason we've not been invaded is that we have the best armed populace in the world.

300 Million potentially armed civillians who can melt in to a city scene or ocuntry side that they know intimately, is something to deter any enemy force. It's been that way from the beginning.

I don't want sex offendors or violent offenders to have guns. I don't care what color they are. I'm white. My wife is not. Our children are mixxed. I'm color blind and proud of it.

Our legislative branch and Civil rights busy bodies are using this as a reason to explain their existance. It's tiresome and old at best. It's NOT about race. It's about my right to put a bullet in your head if you're in my house, uninvited and too close to my two daughters. NO law will prevent me from doing just that. And you know what? I won't wait to see what color your skin is. Nor will I apologize after the fact.

I just want the rules even all across the board. Criminals wave their rights when they commit the crime. Perhaps, depending on severity, we could concede a progam where they could regain the right to a weapon. I'll meet you in the middle.

My two cents.

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Blogger GabbyRose said...

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12:02 PM  

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