The Second Amendment isn’t something that only serves one group of people in this country. As any would be true of any other right, it exists to protect the rights of all Americans.
Yet, unfortunately, that wasn’t always viewed as being the case. The early days of gun control were all about disarming black Americans. It’s a lot easier to terrorize people when they can’t resist the terrorizing, after all.
Also, unfortunately, there are far too few people who are prepared to call out that history.
Surprisingly, an op-ed in Nevada did just that.
And yet, there’s a crucial aspect of the gun control debate that remains conspicuously and tragically under-discussed by both sides: The racial, historical and civic relevance of Second Amendment rights.
The last several years of racial and cultural tension have had a predictable effect on firearm ownership that is certain to complicate progressives’ political calculus regarding gun control: More Americans are buying more firearms than ever, and minorities are increasingly joining the ranks of first-time gun buyers.
The explosion of firearm ownership among Black Americans, especially, is something that would make some of the civil rights activists of decades-past beam with pride—and, with good reason: Historically, gun control has negatively affected disadvantaged communities to a greater extent than white middle-America, and gun rights were once integral to the expansion of civil rights.
In fact, at one point, racial inequities were actually the purpose of gun control laws.
The Black Codes in the post-Civil War South were, in part, aimed at disarming freed Black slaves. Gun licensing laws, registration schemes and even prohibitions on certain models of weapons were used as legal tools to strip African Americans in the deep south of the ability to defend themselves against the terrorist tactics of organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. In the early 20th Century, northern states began adopting similar regulatory frameworks as a means of disenfranchising marginalized Italian and German communities.
Obviously, gun control activists today aren’t advocating for a return to the racist and prejudiced policies of the Jim Crow South or the anti-Italian sentiments of New York’s Sullivan Act. However, better intentions don’t magically erase the disparate impact such laws generate. Like any number of bureaucratic burdens on individual rights, it’s not unreasonable to think firearm regulations would disproportionately affect communities that suffer from institutional or social prejudice.
Now, I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t something I expected to see when I clicked on that link. Instead, I expected to see another screed about how opposition to gun control is racist and how we’re all horrible people for not support it.
And yet, it wasn’t.
More than that, though, I’m starting to see more and more of this kind of thing. People are starting to see the racist history of gun control for what it is, and they’re lashing out over it.
Frankly, it should have happened long ago. After all, while the mob was tearing down statues that anyone thought had even a hint of racism and while schools are being renamed for the same “reasons,” it struck me as oddly bizarre that this attempt to destroy anything with even a hint of racist roots left gun control completely alone.
Slowly, though, I think we’re starting to see just that. It’s not as mobbish an attack at an institution with racist roots, but I’m starting to see more and more people reaching out and calling gun control for its roots.
It’s really just a matter of time before Democrats start running from gun control lest they earn the ire of their liberal base. Won’t that be something?
What we need to be concerned about is whether or not the Second Amendment will survive long enough for that to matter.
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