From the begining
From the earliest days of the United States as a country, segments of the ruling elite and "concerned citizens" sought to and did bar the posession of firearms from minorities and the economically challenged. By using blatantly racial legislation and high taxes on the purchase of firearms, the right to keep and bear arms was effectively denied to those that needed it most. What is even more suprising is the perpetuation of that racist mindset today by the leaders of virtually all minority movements and organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloed People. In many areas of America today, the people most in need of the ability to protect themselves are still being routinely denied that right.
Actual court documents and the public record are repleat with bonafide accounts of this very behavior. These published accounts can be read in the opinions of such august bodies as the courts of numorous states and even the Supreme Court of the United States of America itsself. The SCOTUS decision in Dred Scott (1857) is most telling in that, in addittion to the court ruling that minorities were not citizens, the court recognized that persons that were in fact citizens had the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went;
"In Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), Chief Justice Taney argued if members of the African race were "citizens" they would be exempt from the special "police regulations" applicable to them. "It would give to persons of the negro race...full liberty of speech...to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went."
"Aside: There has been much debate in the courts as to the meaning of "bear arms" as it applies to >"keep and bear arms". It would seem that the issue was settled one hundred and fifty years ago. The key words there are "CARRY" and "WHERE EVER THEY WANT".
The Dred Scott case was decided a few short years before the dark days of the "War between the States". Prior to and after the war many states and localities passed legislation that were commonly called "Black Codes". These local laws were explicit in that they were created specifically to keep firearms from the hands of freed slaves.
A short nine years after the Dred Scott case a reunited Congress passed the Civil Rights Act 1866.
"The CRA of 1866 did away with badges of slavery embodied in the "Black Codes," including those provisions which "prohibit any negro or mulatto from having fire-arms." [CONG. GLOBE, 39th Congress, 1st Session, pt. 1, 474 (29 Jan. 1866)]
It was not without opposition as Democrat William Saulsbury, Senator from the northern state Delaware added before voting against the bill;
"In my State for many years...there has existed a law...which declares that free negroes shall not have the possession of firearms or ammunition. This bill proposes to take away from the States this police power..."
Throughout the reconstruction era government entities turned a blind eye or outright aided and abetted the in the persecution of the freed minorities. In U.S. v. Cruikshank SCOTUS ruled that the federal government had no jurisdiction cocerning civil rights violations of the 14th amendment. The individuals were, in that decision, required to turn to the state for a remedy. The crux of the case involved KKK member Cruikshank being charged with violating the rights of two black men to peaceably assemble and bear arms.
The Court held that for protection against private criminal action, individuals are required to look to state governments. "The doctrine in Cruikshank, that blacks would have to look to state government for protection against criminal conspiracies gave the green light to private forces, often with the assistance of state and local governments, that sought to subjugate the former slaves and their descendants... With the protective arm of the federal government withdrawn, protection of black lives and property was left to largely hostile state governments." (GLJ, p. 348.)
The Century Turns
The begining of a new century and the conclusion of World War I did little to change the status quo.
"After World War I, a generation of young blacks, often led by veterans familiar with firearms and willing to fight for the equal treatment that they had received in other lands, began to assert their civil rights. In reaction, the Klan again became a major force in the South in the 1910's and 1920's. Often public authorities stood by while murders, beatings and lynchings were openly perpetrated upon helpless black citizens. And once again, firearms legislation in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas made sure that the victims of the Klan's violence were unarmed and did not possess the ability to defend themselves, while at the same time cloaking the specially deputized Klansmen in the safety of their monopoly of arms."
Gun control does not stop at the doors of the minorities either. Between 1879 and 1907 several states enacted laws that economically effectively placed the purchase of firearms, specifically handguns, out of reach of minorities and the low-income.
In 1911 the city of New York enacted the "Sullivan Law" that even the New York Times and the American Bar Association supported.
"Of proven success in dealing with political dissidents in Central European countries, this system made handgun ownership illegal for anyone without a police permit." The New York City Police Department thereby acquired the official and wholly arbitrary authority to deny or permit the possession of handguns; which the department used in its effort to disarm the city's Italian population. The Sullivan law was designed to strike hardest at the foreign-born element . . . . As early as 1903 the authorities had begun to cancel pistol permits in the Italian sections of the city. This was followed by a state law of 1905 which made it illegal for aliens to possess firearms 'in any public place'. This provision was retained in the Sullivan law."
It is interesting to note that the "Sullivan Law" still exists today despite it's obvious racial and economic discriminations.
"New York's infamous Sullivan law, originally enacted to disarm Southern and Eastern European immigrants who were considered racially inferior and religiously and ideologically suspect, continues to be enforced in a racist and elitist fashion "as the police seldom grant hand gun permits to any but the wealthy or politically influential.""
It should be noted that New York City does issue some permits though;
"New York City permits are issued only to the very wealthy, the politically powerful, and the socially elite. Permits are also issued to: private guard services employed by the very wealthy, the banks, and the great corporations; to ward heelers and political influence peddlers; and (on payment of a suitable sum) to reputable 'soldiers' of the Mafia . . . ."
Since 1911 citizens of all walks of life have been subject to even more stringent acts of gun control. Notably amoung them is the Firearms Control Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the The Semi-Automatic Weapons Act of 1994. It has to be remembered that the key word in any of these restrictions by the government is control. A firearm is an inanimate object, as is a hammer or chainsaw and does not require control. By themselves they do nothing. Despite that truth, there are those that feel that people must be controlled or deprived of certain inanimate objects for their own good. The reasoning is that "certain people" can not be trusted or "allowed to posess arms because they will immediatelly use them for illicet purposes. These people, in their minds need to be controlled for their own and societies protection. As has been documented by competent record the entire scheme has been and still is a means to excert control over the population, especially that of the economically down-trodden and minorities.
Another Century Turned
An article penned by Ana Radelat has recently been circulating the blogs that was conducted with Dr. Condoleezza Rice in the last few days. Dr. Rice grew up in the south during the desegregation of the 1960's. When asked about her thoughts on gun control;
Rice has said memories of Birmingham's racial turmoil shaped some of her core values. During the bombings of the summer of 1963, her father and other neighborhood men guarded the streets at night to keep white vigilantes at bay. Rice said her staunch defense of gun rights comes from those days. She has argued that if the guns her father and neighbors carried had been registered, they could have been confiscated by the authorities, leaving the black community defenseless.
Speaking of the same time period Dr. Rice told George Will in the fall of 2000;
"I am," she answered crisply, "a Second Amendment absolutist." Growing up in Birmingham, Ala., in the early 1960s, when racial tensions rose, there were, she said, occasions when the black community had to exercise its right to bear arms in self-defense, becoming, if you will, a well-regulated militia."
Given the history and purpose of gun control it should be inconceivable that anyone would support such blatantly discriminitory legislation. The sole and entire reason for such laws has been to control minorities and the poor. The groups statistics show are the most likely to be victims of crime and oppression. People in charge of all levels of government have made it plain that the average person can not be trusted with the means to protect themselves. The biggest fear is that if a minority or poor person has access to a firearm they will instead use it to commit crimes.
Gun Control and Racism - Stefan B. Tahmassebi
The racist roots of Gun Control - Clayton Cramer
The Racist Origins of U.S. Gun Control - Steve Ekwall
I had this mostly written sometime ago but a special thanks to Geek With A 45
for giving me the impetus to actually finish it.