We’ve long argued that the history of gun control is one of racism. We’ve argued it because, well, it’s true. The purpose of early gun control efforts wasn’t to supposedly keep people safe but to keep people safe from the supposed evils of the black man.
Anti-gunners claim that’s simply not true.
Yet The Marshall Project isn’t exactly a variation on Bearing Arms. Their focus is on criminal justice and they don’t seem to be too thrilled with Chicago lately, which I’ve already talked about this week.
Now, though, they’re taking aim at Chicago’s history of gun control…and the supposedly non-existent racism behind it.
Guns have a long, winding history in America. A story by The Marshall Project published this week revealed that when it comes to enforcing gun laws, Black men pay the price — especially in Chicago.
The legal system in Illinois that has led to the incarceration of thousands is more than 60 years in the making — rooted in politics that are inseparable from race, crime and power.
When Illinois codified its criminal code in the early 1960s, it included a statute called “unlawful use of weapons,” a confusing name for a series of laws focused primarily on weapons possession, not use.
Years of racial uprisings and increasing gun violence nationwide had politicians in an uproar. By 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on crime” and increased federal funding for police departments.
The following year, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley vented to President Johnson about the lack of progress on gun control.
In a late evening call to Johnson, Daley expressed frustration with “civil rights demands,” “open and armed rebellion,” and the potential “breakdown of law enforcement” to combat “lawlessness” — which he felt was a “damn serious situation,” across the country.
“Outside the suburbs, in the city, we have control, but what the hell — you go out to all around our suburbs, and you’ve got people out there, especially the non-White, are buying guns right and left,” Daley told the president. “Shotguns and rifles and pistols and everything else. There’s no registration. … There isn’t a damn thing, and you know, something has to be done under the gun law.”
So “especially the non-White.”
I’m sorry, but that is an alarming turn of phrase because it makes it clear that the issue really is the non-white folks buying guns.
Yet Second Amendment rights are rights for everyone. Everyone has a right to keep and bear arms. “Especially” the non-white folks.
Daley was driven to push for a national gun registry–something anti-gunners still want–because of this racist motivation. Those people buying guns weren’t necessarily doing anything illegal. They just bought guns, likely in response to the growing civil unrest of the time. It made a lot of people nervous and they wanted to protect themselves.
Yet for Daley, still an icon in Chicago, that was all the justification he needed to call for more and more gun control.
And this isn’t some racism from centuries ago. This is within living memory. Many of those who bought those guns that so alarmed Daley are still walking around Chicago.
For anyone to claim that racism isn’t part of the gun control effort at this point requires them to ignore reality.