Friday, March 7, 2008

Where did gun control come from?

Two plantation owners are talking:

"That black man has a gun."
"Yep, yep he does. Didn't you own him yesterday?"
"Yeah, I did. Him and his whole family. Think he's mad?"

Most people have forgotten the origins of gun control. The liberals in this country tend to tout themselves as champions of minorities. I've often wondered how they reconcile this idea with their rabid and pervasive gun control agenda. The two concepts are mutually exclusive, once you understand the original (and in my opinion ongoing) purpose behind gun control.

To the uninitiated, this probably comes across as quite a serious charge. And it is. And unfortunately, it's completely true, and supported by nearly two hundred years of legal history. Laws were enacted in Georgia, for example, that predated the civil war. In Georgia, in 1833, a law was passed that read "It shall not be lawful for any free person of colour in this state, to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description whatsoever." Later, in 1848, the Georgia Supreme Court opined "Free persons of color have never been recognized as citizens; they are not entitled to bear arms, vote for members of the legislature, or to hold any civil office." States passed and maintained similar laws all over the south. The idea of a free black man who may have been in chains yesterday suddenly carrying a rifle today seemed to unnerve white men. It was probably particularly disconcerting to powerful and wealthy plantation owners and other slave owners.

Then the civil war happened. Imagine this running through the mind of a former slave owner. "Um, you mean this black man right here is free? And, by free you mean just like me? Complete with actual civil rights? YOU MEAN HE CAN OWN A GUN? The man whose entire family I horsewhipped not a month ago CAN CARRY A RIFLE LIKE A WHITE MAN!?" Yeah. The white man freaked out. And, I have to admit, whitey the slave-owner freaking out at the concept of his former slaves having the right to keep and bear arms makes me chuckle a bit. Not to make light of slavery, but mainly because whitey deserved that anxiety and much worse. But whitey still had the money and the power. And whitey solved that little problem along with a host of others. Enter the Jim Crow era laws.

Along with the Jim Crow laws, a host of other gun control laws were enacted often placing the right to bear arms in the hands of the local (and very white) sheriff. The sheriffs would pull all kinds of shenanigans. There were stories of one southern ordinance that required that anyone who wanted to own a firearm had to take a simple intelligence test. It was agreed that reading the front page of a newspaper would be a sufficient test of intelligence. This test was to be administered by the local sheriff. Of course, no black man could read the paper. Though, that had little to do with his intelligence, considering the paper the sheriff held up for him was printed in Chinese. And guess who signed off on my concealed carry permit? Yep, the county sheriff. This brings to mind a scene from the 1986 movie crossroads, where an old black blues player, after being incarcerated for a couple of decades and freed by a young white guitar player, is confronted with a racist southern sheriff, who happened to be black himself. After being thrown out of the county by the racist sheriff, the old blues player said "My my, things sure have changed 'round here. But then again, they kinda still the same."

Someone might read this, and say "well, that's ancient history." First off, it's not so ancient. Just because the vast majority of early gun control laws were Jim Crow doesn't mean that they stopped and died with Jim Crow. Consider for a moment the gun control act of 1968. The country was in turmoil. In 1962, James Meridith (a black student) had just been enrolled at the University of Mississippi. He was escorted by US Marshals. White men, still used to Jim Crow followed by Segregation were not happy about having black men enrolled in their centers of higher learning at gunpoint by federal agents. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing. There were riots. There were assassinations. The Kennedys and Martin Luther King had recently been assassinated. It's my suspicion that this huge erosion of the second amendment was a direct result of fear of an armed black uprising in the United States. I believe that fear persists today. I've heard it. I live in a rural area, and unfortunately, I've been exposed to some truly racist scumbags in my time. I've heard more than once a racist state that he has this or that for "when them damn n*'s riot." Now, when I say that, you're probably envisioning some inbred redneck in coveralls. No. I've heard that from "pillar of the community" types. It's disgusting. But it doesn't change the fact that fear of armed black uprising still exists. And it still exists among white men of power and influence.

It's simple. The origins of gun control have, and to some degree still remain rooted in racism. To what degree, I cannot say for sure. But it is my suspicion that in their heart of hearts, those that espouse gun control do so in fear of young, urban, black youths. From pre civil-war Georgia through GCA68, racist fear has driven gun control. To my astonishment, liberals (by and large) continue to champion this racist concept. Actually, let me back up a bit. Let me make a minor correction. It's not JUST liberals. Most of our current republican candidates have stated that they support gun control in some form or other. Some of them have actively voted against second amendment rights in their respective political offices. George H. W. Bush signed the "Gun Free School Zones" act of 1990. Mitt Romney stated he'd support an AWB and John McCain has voted in favor of several gun control laws. This is not unique to liberal politicians. None of them want an armed populace. None of them. I suppose the liberals should be credited for at least being honest about it. However, in the ultimate irony, Barack Obama strongly supports and champions gun control. The man is African-American and supports a racist ideal!

In another stroke of irony, I've noticed that "civil rights champions" (read Jesse Jackson et al) are also rabidly anti-gun. I have to wonder if anyone's pointed out to them that they're perpetuating a racist concept. If it has been pointed out to them, I'd sure love to hear their defense of the idea. If anyone should be armed for self defense in my opinion, it's an oppressed minority. How can they preach about empowerment when among their stated goals is the desire to strip the "power" of their followers to defend their very lives?

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