Ken Blackwell: The Truth About Gun Control and Racism

Ken Blackwell: The Truth About Gun Control and Racism By Ken Blackwell for CNS News

America’s founders understood that the right to own firearms—the right to use effectual force to defend oneself, one’s family, one’s neighborhood, one’s nation—was the difference between a mere subject and a free, independent, equal citizen. The United States was designed to enjoy a government of, by, and for the people, as President Lincoln put it. To that end, every citizen was entitled, and often required, to own firearms. On the frontier, defending the community was the responsibility of every man.

For black communities, however, the threat has rarely come from invading Redcoats or marauding Indians. Few Americans remember today that the first task of the Ku Klux Klan was to disarm the black population in the South. Even fewer know that citizen militias repelled white mobs attacking black neighborhoods in many Northern cities in the days before the Civil War. On at least two occasions, those militias were composed entirely of black gun owners. Few Americans realize that during the freedom struggles of the 1960s, civil rights workers of all races were protected by organized black militias in at least three Southern states.

U.S. President Barack Obama shoots clay targets with a shotgun on the range
on August 4, 2012 at Camp David, Maryland. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)

Despite this heritage of responsible and effective use of firearms, equal citizenship has frequently been denied to black Americans through the use of gun control laws. Such laws were used to keep firearms out of the hands of African Americans—to deny their very equality as human beings—from the earliest colonial days through the end of Jim Crow in 1965. Many would argue that even today, blacks continue to suffer disproportionate harm from gun control laws, as major cities deny legal firearms to the residents of high-crime urban neighborhoods.

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