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Civil rights organization fights elitists and racists

By John Bender
web posted July 21, 2008

With the Heller decision only hours old, the National rifle Association, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, filed suit against Chicago and San Francisco seeking to overturn obviously unconstitutional laws those cities have on the books.  In the case of Chicago, their anti-civil right law mirrors the Washington, D.C. law the court struck down.  In San Francisco the anti-civil rights law being challenged is different, but also absolutely unconstitutional on its face.

In fact the San Francisco law is elitist and racist and the federal government should have insisted it be withdrawn when it was first implemented.  If the political hacks who run San Francisco refused, federal troops should have gone in like they did in Little Rock in 1957.

San Francisco doesn’t bar everyone from keeping a gun at home.  They only bar the poorest of the poor, those living in the projects the city calls public housing from exercising their Constitutional rights.  The people they bar from keeping these self defense tools in their homes are not only economically disadvantaged, they are disproportionately minorities.  The San Francisco law is not just a violation of these people’s Second Amendment rights.  It also violates several federal civil rights laws because of its disproportional impact on minorities.

It is a sad commentary on the U.S. Justice Department that they allowed this flagrantly racist and elitist law to stand for so long.  But, when one understands the history of gun control laws it isn’t surprising that this racist, elitist law was ignored.

The nation’s very first gun control law was a Virginia race based law that prohibited “negroes, slave and free, from carrying weapons including clubs.", and further stating that “free Mulattoes, Negroes and Indians...shall appear without arms."  But the racist and elitist roots of gun control laws goes back even farther than that.

The historical record is clear.  Since the beginning of recorded history, those in the ruling class have always tried to disarm those they subjugate.  In modern democracies, the ruling class frequently finds it necessary to allow one or more groups to be armed in order to gain their support for disarming suspect groups that can be demonized as dangerous and inferior.  However, in most cases, the ruling political class prefers the entire population, other than them and their enforcers be unarmed.

Throughout most of American history gun control laws were openly used as a method of keeping blacks and Hispanics ”in their place”, and to quiet the fears of the white population.  For decades, "gun-control" helped keep black people defenseless against lynching.  After the Civil war there was a rush to keep the newly freed black population from arming themselves. States in the South were barred from enforcing the old Slave Codes and barred from passing laws that only applied to blacks by the Civil Rights Act of 1866. They needed to come up with laws that appeared neutral but effectively kept blacks “in their place”.

Just like the racists and elitists of today they were very innovative.  Because the black population was overwhelmingly poor they passed laws that priced guns out of their financial reach. 

They also came up with licensing schemes.  These schemes assured that only the elite and their minions would have the right own and carry to self-defense tools.  They turned the right to own and carry arms into a privilege to be handed out to the elite and their favored subjects.  They did the same with the right to vote.

Poll taxes and literacy tests were used to keep suspect groups from voting.  Gun taxes, “Saturday night special” laws, and licensing, put arms out of the reach of most blacks and poor whites.

Still not satisfied that the suspect groups were unarmed and vulnerable, the elite passed registration laws so they knew where to look for guns among the suspect underclass in the event they felt threatened.  The police frequently used licensing and registration records to confiscate guns in black neighborhoods prior to a KKK raid.

Today the elitists and racists deny these anti-civil rights laws are either racist or elitist.  They also try to hide the real history of those anti-Second Amendment laws.  However, anyone who cares to look into the subject easily finds proof such as the Florida Supreme Court’s 1941 ruling in Watson v Stone which says:

“I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied." - Watson v. Stone, 4 So.2d 700, 703 (Fla. 1941) 

More recently gun control laws like New York’s infamous Sullivan Law, were also used against other “suspect” groups like the Irish, Italians, and Jews.  In New York City the police issue the precious few permits to the rich and politically powerful rather than to the shop keeper in Harlem or the trauma nurse working the 4 to midnight shift and taking the bus home.

Today it is not politically correct to openly advocate keeping suspect groups “in their place”.  Laws are now written to appear neutral.  The racists and elitists camouflage their intent while accomplishing the same goal.

Over the years, the racists and elitists have honed their skill in writing laws that appear neutral.  They are so good at it now that they even get some civil rights organizations to support their anti-rights legislation.

Federal law bars anyone who was ever convicted of a crime that carries a sentence of one year in jail or more from ever again exercising their Second Amendment rights.  This appears to be a neutral law and was supported by several civil rights groups including the nation’s oldest civil rights group, the NRA.  However, in practice, the law disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities. 

Poor people are convicted at higher rates than richer people and receive longer sentences for the same offences. Minorities are disproportionately poor so they suffer the loss of their constitutional right to own and carry a self-defense tool at a much higher rate than others.

Anyone stripped of his Second Amendment rights loses them forever.  People do not get these rights back when their other civil rights are restored. 

Racial profiling also plays a role in depriving greater numbers of minorities of their rights.  Federal laws that increase the penalty for crimes committed on property subsidized by federal tax dollars also disproportionately impact minorities.

Minor offences are upgraded when the offence is committed in HUD housing.  For example, a person caught with a small amount of marijuana on housing authority property faces a far longer sentence than he would face if caught somewhere else.

Possession of a small amount of marijuana in a HUD apartment can strip a young person of his Second Amendment right for the rest of his life.  The same offence committed in an expensive home will leave the convicted person with their constitutional rights in tact.

Law enforcement officers will frequently wait to arrest people until they are on HUD property so the arrest is for a more serious offense.  This may have nothing to do with racism on the part of the officer.  The officer may simply want to gain favor with the powers that be by having a more impressive arrest.

Some civil rights organizations back the passage of so called “Shall Issue” laws.  These laws require jurisdictions to issue licenses to carry firearms to all applicants who are not barred from exercising their constitutional right by some other law.  The National Rifle Association backs passage of these laws.

Their intent is to remove the discretion to issue a license from racist and elitist officials.  Those who back these laws want to force the racists and elitists to grant permission to carry a firearm to everyone based on the same rules.  They want to eliminate the disparities inherent under a “May Issue” law.  In practice these laws are only slightly better than ”May Issue” licensing schemes.  The poor are still disproportionately deprived of their rights.

Shall Issue laws require training, background checks, fingerprinting, and fees.  The training costs money and the fees are an expense.  This expense is a larger burden for the poor than it is for the rich.

Taking the mandatory training classes requires single parents to find childcare for the time they are in the training classes, which adds to the expense. Adding the cost of the license, the background check, the training, and child care prices the license out of the reach of many poor people.

Just like poll taxes priced voting out of the reach of the poor, licensing prices the right to own and carry a self-defense tool out of the reach of the poor.  Licensing also turns the right to own and carry a firearm into a privilege.

The right to own and carry a firearm is as much a civil right as the right to vote.  It is even more than that.  It is an important component of the basic human right to self-defense.

For small people, women, older people, and the disabled, a firearm is the only self-defense tool that is an efficient means of self-defense.  All other defensive tools leave the advantage with the combatant who is stronger, faster and more agile.  Only a firearm equalizes the variances in physical ability enough to allow the weakest members of society to effectively exercise their basic human right of self-defense.

For poor people a firearm is the only effective tool for keeping themselves safe from the predators who roam their neighborhoods. When firearms are priced out of their reach, their basic human right of self-defense becomes a hollow joke.

There was a time within the memory of some of us more seasoned citizens when civil rights leaders of all stripes not only recognized the importance of fighting for our Second Amendment rights but spoke out about it. 

"Gun prohibitionists are aiding and abetting criminals. Of the thousands of gun laws in this country, none really targets the criminal. In fact, criminals are some of the strongest gun-prohibitionists in this country." Mr. Roy Innis, National Chairman of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), American Rifleman, December 1992, pg. 27

"The Constitution of the United States of America clearly affirms the right of every American citizen to bear arms. And as Americans, we will not give up a single right guaranteed under the Constitution. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves or we will continue to be a defenseless people at the mercy of a ruthless and violent racist mob." in Malcolm X at 337, J. Clarke ed. (New York, N.Y., 1969)

"The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all black people should arm themselves for self-defense." Barry Seal in the pamphlet "Seize the Time" at 68 (1970)

Most people have heard of Medgar Evers. Most people do not know that Mr. Evers believed in his right to own and carry arms. Myrlie Evers, Mr. Evers widow, said the following: “now we had guns in every room of our house.  I slept with a small revolver next to me on the nightstand.  He slept with a rifle next to him.  We had one in the hall, we had one in the front room.  We often talked about it, and he said: “Yes, I will use it if it’s necessary to protect myself, to protect my family, to protect my friends.”  Voices of Freedom, Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer, Bantam Books, 1990, p.152

Even fewer people know about the Deacons for Defense and JusticeThe Deacons for Defense and Justice, was a group of African American men who were mostly veterans of World War II and the Korean War, who joined together and organized the group in Jonesboro, Louisiana, on July 10, 1964. They were founded to defend the black community and civil rights workers.  These were armed black men who armed themselves in self-defense against the white elites who were trying to keep them “in their place”.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice mostly protected civil rights workers from CORE who were registering black voters in Louisiana and Mississippi. This protection also extended to the black neighborhoods where CORE was housing the civil rights workers and to the black churches where CORE was holding voting rights seminars.  Armed Deacons escorted the civil rights workers to and from meetings and patrolled black neighborhoods. 

By 1965 the Deacons had between fifty and sixty chapters spread across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  In Bogalusa, Louisiana the group had about 900 members. 

James Farmer, who was then the head of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was scheduled to go to Bogalusa.  He received a warning from the FBI that the Klan was making death threats against him.

The Deacons must have heard about the threats too because they met Mr. Farmer at the airport.  They escorted Mr. Farmer and provided tight security for him during his visit.  Mr. Farmer even stayed at the home of the chapter president.

Not only were the Deacons willing to use force to repel an attack, they were armed for the job.  This capability and willingness to use force to defend themselves and others provided an effective deterrent to the Klan terrorists.  Mr. Farmer wrote about his stay with the Deacons in his autobiography, “ . . .unless a bomb were tossed . . . the Klan could only reach me if they were prepared to swap their lives for mine.”  

Floyd McKissick, of CORE, and Martin Luther King, of SCLC, had the Deacons protect the marchers on the “March Against Fear” in 1966. This march, from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, was organized after James Meredith was shot while trying to make the 220-mile walk by himself.  When the marchers reached Greenwood, Mississippi, Stokely Carmichael gave his famous Black Power speech.    

Dr. King and Mr. McKissick had the Deacons for Defense and Justice scout ahead of the marchers looking for snipers, and ambushes.  They also had them guard the marchers at night as armed guards against raiders.  

Today’s race hustlers and political hacks who not only defend the racist and elitist anti-civil rights laws but work to pass them, are spitting on the work of people who were giants compared to them. The hustlers and hacks can’t lick the boots of men like Martin Luther King, James Farmer, Roy Innis, Medgar Evers and James Meredith, never mind walk in their shoes.

Civil rights groups like the NRA have their work cut out for them and need the support of every freedom loving person to roll back these anti-civil rights laws and to hold the racists and elitists at bay. ESR

John Bender is a freelance writer living in Dallas.  He is a former staff writer for EtherZone.  His columns have appeared in various print and internet publications and his work has been quoted by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.





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