I discussed this a little bit with the Washington Examiner‘s Kerry Picket on yesterday’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co., but our conversation was almost completely focused on the media and it’s double standard of covering “right wing militias” and “left wing militias” very differently. Gun owners on the right, whether or not they have anything to do with a militia, are scary, dangerous, and probably racist to boot. Gun owners on the left? Well, they’re just gun owners. Their AR-15’s aren’t even “battlefield weapons of war,” just plain old “rifles.
Gun control advocates, on the other hand, won’t even acknowledge that these left-wing armed protesters, many of whom are black, even exist. To do so would put them into a terrible bind on the Left, which is all about lifting up black voices right now. How on earth could Shannon Watts scold Grand Master Jay of the Not F*cking Around Coalition for his black armed militia at a time like this? She’d be roasted as a Karen as soon as she hit send on her tweet. So instead, she and other anti-gun advocates just refuse to see or hear these black gun owners at all.
Not only that, some gun control advocates are actually going so far as to deny black Americans their history of using firearms in self and community defense. At Crooked, Ken Harbaugh gave Shannon Watts a shout-out for helping with his recent stab at American history that completely ignores the tradition and experience of black gun owners. Of course, what else should you expect from a piece called “Guns Are The Inextinguishable Symbol Of White Supremacy”?
Twenty years ago, when NRA President Charlton Heston said, “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands,” he was waving a muzzle-loading musket in the air. The updated version of that is a gang of insurrectionists riding in armored vehicles and brandishing grenade launchers. For the zealot, there is no room for moderation. Today, that gun-wielding zealot is almost always white.
“Almost always” is another way of saying “I don’t want to talk about those gun owners who don’t fit my premise that gun ownership is all about white supremacy.” In an instant, the voices of literally millions of black gun owners are dismissed by a white guy in Ohio, who apparently has such a simplistic view of American history that there’s no room for men and women like Ida B. Wells, Dr. Ossian Sweet, Hartman Turnbow, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the untold number of black Americans who protected themselves and their families from armed oppressors over the course of our nation’s history.
Yes, white supremacists used guns to subjugate minorities. They also used gun control laws to do the same. And despite those gun control laws, some black Americans used firearms to ward off, and in many cases, shoot and kill their attackers. They didn’t always receive a fair trial afterwards. Justice wasn’t always done. Our history isn’t simple, and there are plenty of unhappy endings to be found, but, perhaps because the heroes in many of these stories were black Americans who defied the gun control laws on the books, Harbaugh simply chooses to leave them out of his brief history of the gun in America.
Harbaugh’s version of history isn’t just one sided, in some cases it’s laughably and demonstrably false, attempting to portray conservatives as the real architects of the modern gun control movement.
Since at least the Civil War, America has racialized its approach to firearms. The Ku Klux Klan was founded, in part, to ensure the disarmament of newly freed southern black citizens. In California, open carry is illegal today not because of some triumph of progressive politics, but because the Black Panther Party in the 1960s dared carry their weapons in public. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan (R-CA) signed legislation ensuring that could never happen again. When black protesters in Georgia carried the kind of firearms that are mainstays at backlash protests, Fox News invited a Republican senator on air to stoke panic about lawless marauders. Yet fanatics on the right are routinely given free rein to express their paranoia—even derail democracy itself—at the point of a gun. In the case of armed militias who shut down the Michigan legislature, they were encouraged by the president himself.
I don’t know if Harbaugh realizes it, but he just described the Ku Klux Klan as a post-Civil War gun control organization, which isn’t wrong, though certainly an incomplete definition. He’s also wrong about the impact of the Mulford Act on open carry in California. It’s true that Ronald Reagan banned the open carry of loaded firearms, but it took Democrats to ban the unloaded carrying of firearms in the state decades later. Unfortunately, Second Amendment restrictions have a bipartisan history in this country, but for some reason Harbaugh seems unwilling to acknowledge the perfectly obvious role that Democrats and the Left have played in restricting the rights of minority Americans to own guns.
On Twitter, Harbaugh thanked his pal Shannon Watts for all her help with the “framing” of his piece.
2/2 – “Guns get attention, which is what this is really about. Those protesters are not actually trying to open up barber shops. They just want to be seen, and feared. Because nobody saw or feared them before they had a gun.”
— Ken Harbaugh (@Team_Harbaugh) July 7, 2020
So, uh, does this apply to all protesters? Black Lives Matter protesters? III%ers? Black protesters, white protesters, brown protesters? Or is this another one of those instances where white gun control advocates simply choose to pretend that black gun owners don’t exist?
We just saw hundreds of armed black gun owners marching in Georgia with AR-15s this past weekend, and Gov. Brian Kemp isn’t calling for a ban on the open carry of rifles. It’s the gun control crowd that believes these men and women should be charged with a crime for simply owning an AR-15, much less carrying it in public. It would have been much more accurate for Harbaugh to call his piece “Guns Control Laws Are The Inextinguishable Symbol Of White Supremacy,” because that’s not only been the case throughout U.S. history, it’s true today.
Want to put fewer black Americans in prison? Decriminalize the Second Amendment. End the prosecution of non-violent firearms offenses. Make it possible for the average American, black or white, to lawfully exercise their right to keep and bear arms. Restore a culture of lawful gun ownership in these deep-blue, Democrat-controlled cities.
For decades politicians in these cities have done whatever they could to ensure that guns are taboo. There are few voices teaching responsible gun ownership. There’s almost no one preaching the four rules of gun safety. Instead of the gun-free society they’ve been aiming for, Democrats have fostered a culture of unlawful gun ownership instead, and folks like Harbaugh and his buddy Shannon Watts want to keep it that way.