The Right of the People, But Not THOSE People, to Keep and Bear Arms…
Laura Ingraham: the gift that keeps on giving.
In a year in which she mocked a high schooler’s rejection from college, told LeBron James he should “shut up and dribble” rather than express a political opinion, and explicitly lamented the “demographic change” brought on by immigration, she has managed to find another way to be offensive. And this time, she has revealed more about her authentic self than ever before when she retweeted a rather problematic piece from conservative opinion website The Daily Caller:
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) November 5, 2018
These aren’t Ingraham’s words, though she certainly appears to agree with them. The article’s headline-as well as the body of the article-give validity to an argument made by many on the left and in anti-firearm circles: gun rights are only meant for white people.
From The Daily Caller:
Members of the Black Panther Party marched through the city of Atlanta, strapped with assault rifles and brandishing Stacey Abrams campaign signs.
* * *
Kemp’s campaign called on Abrams to immediately denounce the Black Panthers.
“It’s no surprise that militant Black Panthers are armed and patrolling the streets of Georgia for Stacey Abrams. The Black Panthers are a radical hate group with a racist and anti-semitic agenda. They are dangerous and encourage violence against our men and women in uniform,” Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement to TheDCNF.
When a group of white men armed with AR-15s march, they are freedom-loving, 2nd Amendment-supporting patriots. When a group of black men do so, they are militant, dangerous radicals. When AR-15s are carried by white people, they are run-of-the-mill firearms used for hunting; when black people carry them, they are assault rifles. Obvious racism is obvious.
If all of this seems a bit of a reach, or perhaps an isolated example of racism by an extremist faction of the right, one need only look to the history of “gun rights” in America to see it is simply carrying on a long, unspoken tradition.
It is hard to believe today with the ubiquitous positioning of the 2nd Amendment at the forefront of public debate, but the right to bear arms was not an important topic in the first nearly 200 years of the existence of our Bill of Rights. It simply was not a matter of much debate or jurisprudence; there were a grand total of three US Supreme Court cases directly dealing with the 2nd Amendment from 1791 to 1980. To compare, there have been four in the forty years since.
The influx of cases can be traced to the unrest of the late 1960s and, coincidentally, the Black Panthers. In 1966 in Oakland, California there was a rash of shootings of black men by the police (deja vous all over again). Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the latter a law student, formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The group intended to form patrols as a way of monitoring the actions of law enforcement in black neighborhoods. To that end, Newton had the idea that the 2nd Amendment, along with a California law permitting open carry, gave them the individual right to carry guns openly while on patrol. And so, they did.
Soon after, Mr. Newton, holding a rifle, stood in the vicinity of a police officer who was arresting a black man. The officer noticed and abandoned his detainee to confronted Newton and his compatriots, but the black men knew their rights; they refused to budge from their observation point or to hand over their weapons. 1 Soon after this incident, California State Assemblyman Mulford introduced legislation to criminalize the carrying of loaded weapons in public places.
On May 2, 1967, as the Mulford Act was set to be debated in the California legislature, the armed Black Panthers arrived at the statehouse, where they encountered the governor of California at the time, Ronald W. Reagan. Reagan was on the lawn, addressing a group of middle-schoolers. The children were curious about the Panthers and approached their group- followed by the press. Bobby Seale took the opportunity to call out the legislature and their direct attempt to criminalize the activities of the Black Panthers, and delivered a statement:
“The Black Panther party for self-defense calls upon the American people in general and the black people in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature which is considering legislation aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder and repression of black people.”
Then, a group of the 30-odd Black Panthers entered the California Statehouse with the intent of observing as the Assembly debated the Mulford Act. Looking for the spectator gallery, they were inadvertently directed to a door that entered onto the floor of the chamber. Imagine the scene, as roughly a dozen members of the Black Panther party entered the chambers of the California State Assembly, carrying firearms. Chaos ensued as one might expect, and the group was marched out of the building. Their weapons were confiscated and several were taken to the police station, despite having violated no law, with one officer telling a reporter for the Sacramento Bee “We’re going to take them all down and check them all out and we’re going to check out all these weapons.”
The Mulford Act passed.
Certainly, the National Rifle Association, the staunch champions of individual gun rights took up the cause, denouncing the new law as an infringement upon the rights of the members of the Black Panther Party to exercise their 2nd Amendment freedoms.
No. No they didn’t. The NRA fought alongside the government to disarm the feared Black Panther Party and other African Americans. Notably, another surprising figure in the outcry for gun control in the wake of the Panther’s demonstration was none other than the icon of modern American conservative thought, Ronald Reagan:
There’s absolutely no reason why out on the street today a civilian should be carrying a loaded weapon.”
–Ronald Reagan, May 2, 1967
This was the impetus for and the beginning of the push for gun control- as well as the backlash against it. And it would appear to be a compelling argument for the pro-gun side today, to point out the racist beginnings of gun control. But as illustrated by The Daily Caller article tweeted out by Laura Ingraham, the underlying attitude remains: a rifle in the hand of a white person represents a God-given right to self-defense; in the hands of African Americans, it is an instrument of menace, a crime waiting to happen.
Take, for example, the case of Marissa Alexander, a black woman in Florida, who spent six years either behind bars or under house arrest for firing a warning shot at the man who was attacking her. The “stand your ground” law, which protected from conviction a man who pursued and then shot to death an unarmed teenager, was not extended to Ms. Alexander.
Then there is the example of Selma, Alabama resident Jacqueline Dixon, also black, charged with murder for fatally shooting her estranged husband when he charged at her from her front lawn. Despite a documented history of abuse, Alabama’s own version of “stand your ground” did not shield her.
Or Philando Castile, a lawfully licensed gun owner shot while sitting in his car during a traffic stop simply for having a gun, even after alerting the police officer to its presence.The 2nd Amendment, that sacred institution of the American right, is not uniformly available to all of our allegedly equal citizenry. In a time when conservatives want to convince the left that the racism they decry is no longer a serious issue, the The Daily Caller reveals the truth.
- As recounted by Bobby Seale in the October 12, 2017 episode of the More Perfect podcast.