By: Peter Suciu
The ills of America can apparently be explained in three simple words: “critical race theory,” which suggests that American racism has shaped public policy.
According to Education Week, “Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”
It isn’t just about opportunities for employment, school, medical services, or the ability to buy a house. One author is claiming the Second Amendment wasn’t as much about ensuring that Americans could keep and bear arms, but “was designed and has consistently been constructed to keep African-Americans powerless and vulnerable.”
In her new book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, Carol Anderson suggests that early lawmakers may have been more worried about armed blacks than about foreign invaders, saying the “well-regulated militia” was meant to deal with a potential slave revolt.
“One of the things that many previous historians have not linked up was the role of the militia in putting down slave revolts, in buttressing slave patrols and keeping enslaved Black people, and free Blacks, under the boot of White supremacy,” Anderson said in an interview with CNN.
Anderson further argued that, “James Madison crafted that language in order to mollify the concerns coming out of Virginia and the anti-Federalists, that they would still have full control over their state militias — and those militias were used in order to quell slave revolts.”
Yet, there has long been a counterpoint to Anderson’s stance – and that it is that gun control has actually been a racist tool to keep African-Americans from being able to protect themselves. In its own study, Young Americans for Liberty noted that there had been laws restricting gun ownership by African-Americans even before there was a United States.
A 1639 law in Virginia was among those cited that banned all Africans from gun ownership, while simultaneously making it a law for all whites to be able to own one.
In his essay, “The Racist Origins of US Gun Control: Laws Designed to Disarm Slaves, Freedman, and African-Americans,” author Steve Ekwall noted “Slaves Codes” prohibited slaves from owning guns. After the Civil War, many states renamed the laws “Black Codes,” which also prohibited freedmen from owning guns. Even into the 20th century, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns so as to price blacks as well as poorer whites out of the gun market, Ekwall added.
Those laws were essentially in conflict with the Second Amendment, not in support of it.
Urban Populace of the 20th Century
Consider, too, the urban centers in America – notably Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. – where firearms became highly restricted in the decades after an influx of minorities, including African-Americans and Latinos. New York City had no firearms ban in the early 20th century, but by the end of the century, it had some of the most restrictive laws in the country. The same is true of Chicago and D.C.
As “white flight” in the 1960s and 1970s that sent the more affluent white residents to the suburbs coincided with the Gun Control Act of 1968. As crime increased in the inner cities, it was increased gun control, not the Second Amendment, that kept those urban residents from having the means to defend themselves.
Retired lawyer and Newsmax contributor Michael Dorstewitz further explained how it took the Supreme Court ruling to further clarify that the Second Amendment was an individual right — not a right of a state militia.
Dorstewitz wrote, “In District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 case, the court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia. The court further held that the people may keep firearms that are ‘in common use at the time’ for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. Two years later the court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the right of an individual to keep and bear arms is enforceable against the states — not just against the federal government.”
Those cases were brought by angry residents who were banned from owning the means to protect themselves as crime increased in their neighborhoods.
Minority Gun Ownership
The Second Amendment certainly wasn’t about keeping minorities from owning firearms, yet even if it were, that most certainly isn’t the case today. During the pandemic, the sales of firearms set new records, and 2020 saw some 8 million first time buyers – with nearly half of those being African-American and women.
There is no need to theorize why they’re buying guns, as calls to defund the police amidst violent protests have left many communities less safe while violence has continued. Clearly, the Second Amendment is about providing a way for individuals of all colors and creeds to protect themselves, and most should see that gun control is a modern form of racism – as it would disarm those who can’t rely on the police for protection.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.