Ken Blackwell: A Brief History Lesson on Gun Control Laws and Black Americans

Editor’s Note: The column was co-authored by Lori Roman.

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, in the days before the Civil War, citizen militias repelled white mobs that attacked black neighborhoods in many Northern cities. 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.

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.

Many black political leaders need to rethink their opposition to the Second Amendment. By supporting government infringement of the right to bear arms, they are not only violating the Constitution but also robbing their fellow blacks of the ability to defend themselves, relegating them to second-class citizenship.

The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) was one of the early voices relating civil rights for African Americans and their 2nd Amendment rights. This report “The Truth About Gun Control, Racism and Genocide” exposes information often suppressed by mainstream media.

Why? Because of the uncomfortable truth that Democrats sought to keep guns from African Americans. And, in fact, Democrats utilized the Ku Klux Klan to oppress black Americans. But that difficult piece of information should not keep us from examining our history and using those lessons to protect the civil liberties of all Americans today.

The 1st and 2st Amendments of our Constitution are the great equalizers. However, we have seen from history that if the 2nd Amendment is compromised, then 1st Amendment rights deteriorate quickly. Freedom for all Americans is dependent on both. And any political party that undermines those rights is making the minority community most vulnerable. I encourage Democrats to learn from their uncomfortable history and I urge Republicans in Congress to not infringe on the rights of Americans to defend themselves in any way. Law-abiding Americans deserve the right to defend themselves.

Ken Blackwell was a Domestic Policy Advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team. Previously, he served as Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Treasurer, and Mayor of Cincinnati.

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.

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  1. And many people may not know (or have forgotten) how the California Mulford Act of 1967 restricted citizens from lawfully carrying a gun in public. This in response to [then] legally armed members of the Black Panther Party protesting in Sacramento.

  2. Have observed, over the past fifty-odd years, the cultural decline of America. The hue and cry, after any tragic “mass” (4 or more) FELONY killing, is to ramp up another USELESS gun INFRINGEMENT! What is needed is for just ONE deep thinker, on that anti-gun side, to get the message out to their coterie of non-deep thinkers that America’s current climate of carnage is NOT due to guns, or the availability of guns!

    The single question needing to be asked that has an answer is: ‘What Has Changed in America Over These Past Fifty Plus Years, That Has America Reaping This Killing Carnage?” Answer: America has LOST the culture war! From a previously more religious society, America has ‘devolved’ into a completely secular one. We have spawned at least two generations of people that have little to no respect for authority, no idea of or respect for any HIGHER authority, no respect for others, no respect for life (62 million abortions & counting), and probably most telling, NO respect for themselves!

    When men, that are born of women, decide there is no Higher power than their own, and respect none, they are unrestrained in their narcissism and depravity. Just review the cultural stats for the period, they are all in the toilet, from birth to death! The TWO parent family rests on the brink of extinction. No society can survive without the underpinning of a vibrant, successful, reproducing, two parent, family structure! America is tripping, not lightly through the tulips, heavily on the road to the ash heap of history.

    Just one fact to illustrate the true carnage, and pay CLOSE ATTENTION to the 2% of ALL number: In 1960, barely 2 percent of all American children, from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, lived with a never married parent. By 2008, 41 percent of black children, 18 percent of Hispanic children, and 7 percent of white children lived in a home with an unmarried parent. As said by Ripley, “Believe It Or Not!”