Gun rights and civil rights aren't that different

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The gun rights movement gets pretty much nothing but bad press. The media doesn’t like us and seemingly goes out of its way to portray us in the most negative light possible.


Meanwhile, groups like Black Lives Matter are described as fighting for civil rights, the spiritual descendants of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, while many who support BLM oppose gun rights. The idea is that the two are diametrically opposed to one another somehow.

That’s what the New York Times seemed to think, but as Reason’s Damon Root notes, that isn’t necessarily the case.

A group of public defense lawyer organizations recently joined forces with Second Amendment advocates to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate a New York gun control scheme. Now that the scheme has been successfully overturned in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which held that the Second Amendment includes the right “to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” public defenders have begun citing the Court’s ruling to protect the rights of their clients.

This state of affairs has left some New York Times journalists scratching their heads in surprise. As a recent Times headline put it: “Unlikely Fans of Supreme Court Ruling on Guns: Public Defenders.” The accompanying article describes the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, the Bronx Defenders, and other groups as “unexpected” allies of the gun rights movement.

But the alliance seems less “unexpected” when you remember that gun control has a racially disparate impact. As the public defender groups told the Supreme Court in an amicus brief, “New York enacted its firearm licensing requirements to criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities. That remains the effect of its enforcement by police and prosecutors today.” In other words, Bruen was a win for both gun rights and criminal justice reform.


Root goes on to delve into the history of how the civil rights movement had a component of gun rights as well. It’s not a terribly long read, but it’s a good one.

You see, while the media loves to tout the revisionist history book The Second as authoritative proof that gun rights are rooted in racism, the truth is that the vast majority of gun control laws were, at least initially, designed to disarm black men and women, making it easier for racists to terrorize them.

Lawmakers of the day figured those laws wouldn’t be applied to white folks regardless of what the law actually said, but could be used to keep black people essentially disarmed.

In other words, as we’ve noted time and time again, gun control has racist roots and origins.

Further, as noted above, it continues to have a disproportional impact on the black community pretty much everywhere in the United States. If we’re going to take a disproportional impact on black people as a sign of racism, as seems to happen in just about every aspect of political life that doesn’t involve guns, then why isn’t it seen the same way with gun control?


Look, at the end of the day, gun rights and civil rights have much in common. That’s because gun rights are civil rights. They always were and always will be.

However, until that is more broadly recognized, all civil rights will be at risk.

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