Martin Luther King, who received endless death threats and was the target of a house bombing in 1956, applied for an open carry permit, but was denied by Montgomery, Alabama’s racist police force. When the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in accordance with California law, began openly carrying weapons to patrol Oakland’s neighborhoods, the state legislature quickly crafted, and Gov. Ronald Reagan quickly signed, the 1967 Mulford Act ending public carry. On the heels of race riots, Congress Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, followed by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which Georgetown historian Adam Winkler notes included a provision to restrict “‘Saturday Night Specials’—the cheap, easily available guns often used by [black] youth.” The legislation was the first federal gun law in nearly three decades, and proved lawmakers would rather institute widespread gun control measures than potentially have a widely armed black populace.
More recently, the understanding that the Second Amendment serves only to protect America’s white citizens was reified with the 2014 police murder of John Crawford III, who was holding an airgun in a Walmart located in Ohio, an open carry state. The same is true of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who had just informed cops he was carrying when Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez unloaded five fatal shots into his body. (The NRA was conspicuously mum on the issue.) The Christian Science Monitor cites research from Jennifer Carlson, author of “Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline,” who noted discrepancies in the Michigan licensing practices that stood until 2015.
She found differences in how gun boards operated in Michigan's majority-black Wayne County and majority-white Oakland County. Black concealed-carry applicants in Wayne were routinely lectured and quizzed in public forums – what she calls “degradation ceremonies.” White gun owners in Oakland, meanwhile, were addressed without lectures in hearings where they could plead their case in a semi-private room. (Michigan has since done away with the gun boards.)
White folks' deep-seated fears of black folks will always ensure pushback on arms in black hands. These attitudes, it will surprise zero black people, are yet more pronounced among white gun advocates. That is, the intensity of gun fervor in white Americans often correlates directly with racist attitudes, and by extension, fears and stereotypes about black criminality, thus creating a perceived need for more guns. Researchers note that “for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a gun at home.” Similarly, Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee analyzed data comparing white racial resentment and gun attitudes and emerged with the near-obvious conclusion, “Opposition to gun control—like opposition to immigration, Sharia law, and ‘political correctness’—has become linked to things that racially resentful whites fear." It seems pretty likely that, were the media face of gun ownership to become black, calls to institute legislative controls would suddenly fill the halls of Congress.
By the most recent tally, just 19 percent of African-Americans have a gun in their household, compared with 41 percent of whites. But new fears about rising racist violence, an increase in the number of hate groups and the everyday transparent bigotry of the Trump administration are reportedly helping drive up the number of African-American gun buyers. The official numbers aren’t yet in, but if the needle on black gun ownership noticeably moves, it will be taken as cause for alarm and time to politically act. And once again, black folks will have saved America from itself.
Imagine this scenario, guys.
Imagine if there were a large open carry rally in a red state like Oklahoma or Texas or better yet, Alabama or Florida, with ten or fifteen thousand black folks with AR-15s.
Imagine the kind of coverage that would get on FOX News. Imagine the coverage that just the promise of organized future rallies of that type would get. Imagine organizers on TV calmly telling the press that black America was planning on fully engaging in "Second Amendment remedies" to solve the problems of black inequality in the same way white supremacist groups and sovereign citizens groups and militia groups advocate today for in 2018.
Imagine how Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Tomi Lahren, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart would cover something like that.
Now imagine what they would call for in response. 50 years ago we had the Mulford Act. We'd have it again, only then some.
You would have the entire Sandy Hook package of legislation that Democrats wanted to pass years ago plus everything since get 400 House votes and 80 Senate votes and on Trump's desk within 90 days, and more like 30.
I guarantee you this.
If black citizens of this country ever started taking advantage of the Second Amendment that exists in the fantasies of the NRA lobby, you would have gun control laws, bans on certain weapon types, magazine bans, ammunition bans, smart locks, waiting periods, background checks, federal firearms databases, hell you'd even have the bans on the CDC researching firearms as a health hazard all lifted, and all of this legislation would happen within the space of months, if not weeks.
It would happen with a blinding swiftness, a near-epic celerity that would cement common sense laws for generations in America.
Then have these same black open carry rally leaders say "We respect these new laws, but plan to keep our existing firearms and ammunition for defense of our homes and neighborhoods."
And watch what happens with the idea that guns could never be confiscated in America.
You want to get the bulk of well over a hundred million plus firearms in this country off the streets within a year?
You do that.
Like lightning in a bottle, guys.
I know it's a fantasy, but it's a damn effective one. And failing that, well, there's always voting out the NRA lobby in 2018 and 2020.
Let's aim for that too.