Gun Control and Racism

Anti-gunners often accuse gun rights activists of being middle-aged white racists. Unless you actually are one of the rare middle-aged white racists you laugh and call the anti-gunner a hypocrite. Why? Because the history of gun control has been almost entirely driven by racism and fear of minorities having the same rights of self-defense as whites:

As an adult I continued to fear and hate guns and to generally align myself with the gun control cause, but Jeff’s suggestion that the regulation of people’s access to guns is essentially conservative nagged at me, unresolved, until I read UCLA law professor Adam Winkler’s stunning new book Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. At the heart of his narrative, Winkler convincingly argues that the people who began the movement against gun control operated not out of the National Rifle Association’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., but out of a nondescript two-story brick building three blocks from where I sat staring at that pistol: 3106 Shattuck Avenue, in the heart of radical Berkeley. It was there, in 1967, at the headquarters of the Black Panther Party, that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale planned an armed march into the California State Capitol that “launched the modern gun-rights movement.”

Despite my feelings about guns, even as a child I admired that the Panthers made their name shortly after their founding in 1966 by patrolling West Oakland streets with rifles and shotguns and confronting police officers who were detaining blacks. It seemed to me that there was no more effective means of curbing the daily police brutality being meted out to the residents of Oakland’s ghetto. But I did not know until reading Gunfight that the Panthers’ armed patrols provoked the drafting of legislation that established today’s gun regulation apparatus, or that the champions of that legislation were as conservative as apple pie.

Whether your like or dislike the early actions of the Black Panthers it must be noted that their rise was a direct result of police brutalizing members of the black community. In other words if they didn’t come together as a community and fight against the state’s monopoly on initiating violence they would be subject to acts of violence without recourse. The Second Amendment was drafted for this exact reason, when the state becomes overly tyrannical an armed citizenry maintains the option of defending themselves from state actors. Members of the Black Panthers originally armed themselves to resist tyranny as all other options including the courts were entirely against them. Sadly the need for self-defense gave the state an excuse to advance gun control in the hopes of disarming blacks and rendering them easier to subjugate:

In 1967 Don Mulford, the Republican state assemblyman who represented the Panthers’ patrol zone and who had once famously denounced the Free Speech Movement and anti-war demonstrations at the University of California at Berkeley, introduced a bill inspired by the Panthers that prohibited the public carrying of loaded firearms, open and concealed.


Two months after the invasion of Sacramento, riots erupted in response to instances of police brutality in the black sections of Detroit and Newark. From rooftops, windows, and doorways, gunmen fired on police, National Guardsmen, and Army troops sent to quash the rebellions. Congress responded by passing the Gun Control Act of 1968 and its companion bill, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. Although Winkler chastises “extremists” on both sides of the current gun control debate who characterize their opponents as totalitarians, he does note that while drafting the 1968 bills, Sen. Thomas Dodd (D-Conn.) had the Library of Congress provide him with an English translation of the gun control regulations that the Nazis used to disarm Jews and political dissidents.

Yes the 1968 Gun Control Act is basically an English translation of the Nazi Gun Control Act. Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership published an excellent book that compares our 1968 Gun Control Act with the Nazi equivalent and they are almost the same (minus the fact our version doesn’t overtly target a minority group).

I think I’ll throw Gun Fight onto my reading list and, whenever I get around to actually reading and finishing it, I’ll post up my thoughts.