Why Readers Upset Over MLK Day Sale Ad Should Settle Down

Stores routinely latch onto holidays and tie sales to them. It’s not unusual in the least. After all, holidays are often days when people have the day off and can kind of goof off a bit without too much of a problem, so why not hit a store?


Well, one gun store decided to have a Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday sale and ran an ad. Some are less than pleased with the idea.

“There’s irony and I haven’t seen any other businesses have a sale for Martin Luther King and its so ironic that a gun shop,” said Hanz Herdia.

That irony, as some have pointed out on social media, is because of what Dr. King stood for: non-violence and peaceful protest. Not to mention, the the civil rights leader was assassinated with a gun in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

“I do think its in bad taste and i’m sure other people have used historical figures to sell things but it also helps to reflect their morals and it doesn’t in this case,” said Allen Marquez.

Except, well, it seems that Dr. King was a gun owner.

That’s right. You see, while Dr. King advocated for nonviolence when it came to protesting segregation, he wasn’t an idiot. He understood there would be people who would want to see him dead, and he prepared for that.

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler explains King’s relationship with firearms in his bookGunfight. He writes:

Most people think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the 1956, as the civil rights movement heated up, King turned to firearms for self-protection and he even applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

This was not out of the norm for Civil Rights organizers in the 1950s and 60s, nor was it the only weapon King kept around him. Receiving countless death threats from both civilians and law enforcement, armed supporters took turns guarding King’s home and family after his permit was denied knowing too well that the Klan was targeting him for assassination. They also knew that they would likely receive little assistance from the local authorities.

Indeed William Worthy, a black journalist who covered King in the 1950s, reported that he once went to sit down on an armchair in the King’s living room and almost sat on a loaded gun. King’s adviser Glenn Smiley described the great pacifist’s home as containing “an arsenal.”


In other words, Dr. King turned to firearms in self-defense.

The truth is, store owner Mark Abramson has a fair point about tieing Dr. King to firearms sales.

Abramson said he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

“I thought it was an appropriate depiction of Dr. King. We celebrate some of the freedoms we have because of the work he did,” Abramson said.

He believes the ad is consistent with Dr. King’s mission of equality.

“Jim Crow laws and things that happened immediately after the civil war and continued for almost 100 years denied blacks, denied minorities the right to defend themselves while the majority could do that. Dr. King fought against that,” Abramson said.

That’s really the origin of gun control. The purpose of early gun control laws was to disarm blacks. This is especially true in the Deep South immediately following the Civil War, but was also true throughout the nation. While laws were written in such a way that they weren’t focused on ethnicity, that was only to sneak them by the carpetbaggers and others who would have shut down any attempt at simply disarming blacks.

Instead, they simply wrote laws that would, theoretically, apply to everyone, all while knowing that no white sheriff would arrest a white man for these “crimes.”

Eventually, they were applied to everyone, but in a world where statues are yanked down because of racism and anything with supposedly racist ties is denigrated, why is gun control still viable? If anything hurt blacks in rural communities, it was laws that inhibited their ability to defend themselves from racists.


Connecting Dr. King to a gun store sale? Makes perfect sense to me.

Meanwhile, some are upset about the holiday being used to sell things. However, since they aren’t making the same arguments against sales on days we honor presidents who accomplished great things or sales for the season set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ, much less any other holiday, I’m less than sympathetic. Dr. King isn’t a greater man than George Washington or Jesus. He doesn’t get special treatment.


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