What follows are excerpts from various sources that outline two main aspects of the racist history of gun control in America; the laws and the bloody actions the laws enabled.
In the first part, we’ll look at state and national laws that go all the way back to the 17th century and continue through to 1968.
In the second part, we’ll look at four major events where blacks were targeted for assassination, including the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, and the less-talked about, but perhaps most dramatic of the four events, the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, in which Southern Democrat Whites overthrew an election and violently revolted against an elected government, suffering no consequence as a result.
The purpose of this report is to highlight an essential element to the reality of power, force. Wherever social, demonstrable, and ideational influence fails to push individuals to acquiesce to another group of individuals who mean to impede their ability to freely live the life of their choosing, force is the deciding factor.
This reality has long been part of American history, though it is a little-talked-about part of that history. Going forward, there is no reason to believe that this reality of power will not come into play, again and again and again.
If you live in America as a member of an undesired class, be it by your race, your beliefs, your economic status, or any other dividing marker used by the ones with the advantage of force to deliniate the undesired, then you should study hard what happens to the undesired groups in America who cannot meet the force that the powers that be bring to bear.
Gun control is about control, period. And it uses the maternal and paternal instincts of humans to invoke a protectionist instinct, but one that leads them to empower the very beasts that unleashed hell in the first place.
For every child saved by a gun control law, tens more will die, or be enslaved, or be ground to dust by the power your support of gun control only further empowered, a power that is far more deadly than all of the mass shooters throughout history combined.
I hope, as you review this history, you come to see the futility of placing in the hands of the few the power of deadly force, leaving any and all undesired groups that choose to not comply with the tyrannical dreams of the ones in power defenseless, vulnerable to another round of massacres, all so that you can satisfy that misdirected sense of maternal, or paternal instinct to save the children.
THE RACIST GUN CONTROL LAWS AND RULINGS (Pre-Civil War)
Race-based total gun and self-defense ban. “Prohibiting Negroes, slave and free, from carrying weapons including clubs.” (Los Angeles Times, To Fight Crime, Some Blacks Attack Gun Control, January 19, 1992)
1712 South Carolina
Race-based total gun ban. “An act for the better ordering and governing of Negroes and slaves.” [7 Statutes at Large of South Carolina, p. 353-54 (D. J. McCord ed. 1836-1873).] (GMU CR LJ, p. 70)
1792 United States
Blacks excluded from the militia, i.e. law-abiding males thus instilled with the right to own guns. Uniform Militia Act of 1792 “called for the enrollment of every free, able-bodied white male citizen between the ages of eighteen and forty-five” to be in the militia, and specified that every militia member was to “provide himself with a musket or firelock, a bayonet, and ammunition.” [1 Stat. 271 (Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 80, No. 2, “The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration,” Robert Cottrol and Raymond Diamond, 1991, p. 331)]
Complete gun ban for slaves. Act of Apr. 8, 1811, ch. 14, 1811 Laws of La. 50, 53-54, forbade sale or delivery of firearms to slaves. (Id.)
Slave and free black homes searched for guns for confiscation. “An Act to Govern Patrols,” 1825 Acts of Fla. 52, 55 – Section 8 provided that white citizen patrols “shall enter into all Negro houses and suspected places, and search for arms and other offensive or improper weapons, and may lawfully seize and take away such arms, weapons, and ammunition …” Section 9 provided that a slave might carry a firearm under this statute either by means of the weekly renewable license or if “in the presence of some white person.” (Id.)
Race-based total gun ban. In the December 1831 legislative session, Maryland entirely prohibited free blacks from carrying arms. (Aptheker, p. 75) (GLJ, p. 338)
Complete gun ban for slaves. “An Act Concerning Slaves,” Sec. 6, 1840 Laws of Tex. 171, 172, ch. 58 of the Texas Acts of 1850 prohibited slaves from using firearms altogether from 1842-1850. (Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University, Vol. 85, No. 3, “Gun Control and Economic Discrimination: The Melting-Point Case-In-Point”, T. Markus Funk, 1995, p. 797)
1857 United States
High Court upholds slavery since blacks “not citizens.” In Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U. S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), Chief Justice Taney argued if members of the African race were “citizens” they would be exempt from the special “police regulations” applicable to them. “It would give to persons of the Negro race … full liberty of speech … to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.” (Id. p. 417) U. S. Supreme Court held that descendants of Africans who were imported into this country and sold as slaves were not included nor intended to be included under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, whether emancipated or not, and remained without rights or privileges except such as those which the government might grant them, thereby upholding slavery. Also held that a slave did not become free when taken into a free state; that Congress cannot bar slavery in any territory; and that blacks could not be citizens.
Blacks require police approval to own guns, unless in military. Mississippi Statute of 1865 prohibited blacks, not in the military “and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county” from keeping or carrying “fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife.” [reprinted in 1 Documentary History of Reconstruction: Political, Military, Social, Religious, Educational and Industrial, 1865 to the Present Time, p. 291, Walter L. Fleming, ed., 1960.] (GLJ, p. 344)
THE RACIST GUN CONTROL LAWS AND RULINGS (Post-Civil War)
1866 North Carolina
Rights of blacks can be changed by legislature. North Carolina Black Code, ch. 40, 1866 N. C. Sess. Laws 99 stated “All persons of color who are now inhabitants of this state shall be entitled to the same privileges, and are subject to the same burdens and disabilities, as by the laws of the state were conferred on, or were attached to, free persons of color, prior to the ordinance of emancipation, except as the same may be changed by law.” (Avins, p. 291.) (GLJ, p. 344)
First “Saturday Night Special” economic handgun ban passed. In the first legislative session in which they gained control, white supremacists passed “An Act to Preserve the Peace and Prevent Homicide,” which banned the sale of all handguns except the expensive “Army and Navy model handgun” which whites already owned or could afford to buy, and blacks could not. (Gun Control: White Man’s Law, William R. Tonso, Reason, December 1985) Upheld in Andrews v. State, 50 Tenn. (3 Heisk.)165, 172 (1871) (GMU CR LJ, p. 74)
“The cheap revolvers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were referred to as ”Suicide Specials,“ the ”Saturday Night Special“ label not becoming widespread until reformers and politicians took up the gun control cause during the 1960s. The source of this recent concern about cheap revolvers, as their new label suggest, has much in common with the concerns of the gun-law initiators of the post-Civil War South. As B. Bruce-Briggs has written in the Public Interest, ”It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the “Saturday Night Special” is emphasized because it is cheap and being sold to a particular class of people. The name is sufficient evidence — the reference is to “niggertown Saturday night.” (Gun Control: White Man’s Law,William R. Tonso, Reason, December 1985)
1875 United States
High Court rules has no power to stop KKK members from disarming blacks. In United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. at 548-59 (1875) A member of the KKK, Cruikshank had been charged with violating the rights of two black men to peaceably assemble and to bear arms.
The U. S. Supreme Court held that the federal government had no power to protect citizens against private action (not committed by federal or state government authorities) that deprived them of their constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.
The Court held that for protection against private criminal action, individuals are required to look to state governments. “The doctrine in Cruikshank, that blacks would have to look to state government for protection against criminal conspiracies gave the green light to private forces, often with the assistance of state and local governments, that sought to subjugate the former slaves and … With the protective arm of the federal government withdrawn, protection of black lives and property was left to largely hostile state governments.” (GLJ, p. 348.)
First all-gun economic ban passed. Alabama placed “extremely heavy business and/or transactional taxes“ on the sale of handguns in an attempt ”to put handguns out of the reach of blacks and poor whites.“ (Gun Control: White Man’s Law, William R. Tonso, Reason, December 1985)
THE RACIST GUN CONTROL LAWS AND RULINGS (20th Century)
Race-based confiscation through record-keeping. Mississippi enacted the first registration law for retailers in1906, requiring them to maintain records of all pistol and pistol ammunition sales, and to make such records available for inspection on demand. (Kates, p. 14) (GMU CR LJ, p. 75)
1911 New York
Police choose who can own guns lawfully. “Sullivan Law” enacted, requiring police permission, via a permit issued at their discretion, to own a handgun. Unpopular minorities were and are routinely denied permits. (Gun Control: White Man’s Law, William R. Tonso, Reason, December 1985)
(From Old Yankee, “Laws Designed to Disarm Slaves, Freedmen, and African-Americans”)
As governor of California, Reagan signed the Mulford Act into law in 1967. Written by Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford, the legislation was the most sweeping state edict in all the country, prohibiting the more or less free carrying of firearms in public. It went along with the rest of his heavy-handed entire law-and-order agenda and inspired an avalanche of new gun laws nationwide.
The purpose of the law was to disarm the Black Panthers, a radical leftist group that openly carried firearms, kept an eye out on the police, and even took their rifles to the state Capitol to protest what they decried as racist legislation. (from Anthony Gregory, “The Panthers Were Right and Reagan Was Wrong on Gun Control” featured in blog.independent.org).
1968 United States
Gun Control Act of 1968 passed. Avowed anti-gun journalist Robert Sherrill frankly admitted that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was “passed not to control guns but to control Blacks.” [R. Sherrill, The Saturday Night Special, p. 280 (1972).] (GMU CRLJ, p. 80)
“The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed not to control guns but to control blacks, and inasmuch as a majority of Congress did not want to do the former but were ashamed to show that their goal was the latter, the result was they did neither. Indeed, this law, the first gun-control law passed by Congress in thirty years, was one of the grand jokes of our time. First of all, bear in mind that it was not passed in one piece but was a combination of two laws. (The Saturday Night Special and Other Guns, Robert Sherrill, p. 280, 1972)
THE RACIST ACTS EMPOWERED BY THE DISARMAMENT OF BLACKS
And now we get to the bloody aftermath of the gun control laws, starting in Mississippi in 1871 and ending in Oklahoma in 1921. These are not the only examples, nor do they begin after the Civil War.
America is spotted with these types of events as one favored group uses its advantage of force power over an undesired minority. That advantage of force power was given to the favored group through laws, regulations, and selective enforcement, as we highlighted in the laws above.
And now, the four most bloody, most power-altering examples of the bloody aftermath of racist gun control.
The Meridian race riot of 1871 was a race riot in Meridian, Mississippi in March 1871. It followed the arrest of freedmen accused of inciting riot in a downtown fire, and blacks’ organizing for self-defense. Although the local Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapter had attacked freedmen since the end of the Civil War, generally without punishment, the first local arrest under the 1870 act to suppress the Klan was of a freedman.
This angered the black community. During the trial of black leaders, the presiding judge was shot in the courtroom, and a gunfight erupted that killed several people. In the ensuing mob violence, whites killed as many as 30 blacks over the next few days. Whites drove the Republican mayor from office, and no person was charged or tried in the freedmen’s deaths.
The Meridian riot was related to widespread postwar violence by whites to drive Reconstruction Republicans from office and restore white supremacy. Although the Enforcement Acts helped suppress the Klan at this time, the Meridian riot marked a turning point in Mississippi violence.
By 1875 other white paramilitary groups arose; the Red Shirts suppressed black voting by intimidation, and their efforts led to a Democratic Party victory in state elections.
Within two years a national political compromise was reached, and the federal government withdrew its military forces from the South in 1877. (from Wikipedia, “Meridian Race Riot of 1871”)
The Colfax massacre, or Colfax riot as the events are termed on the 1950 state historic marker, occurred on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, the seat of Grant Parish, when approximately 150 black men were murdered by white Southern Democrats.
The bloodiest single instance of racial carnage in the Reconstruction era, the Colfax massacre was an example of the lengths to which some opponents of Reconstruction would go to regain their accustomed authority. Among blacks, the incident was long remembered as proof that in any large confrontation, they stood at a fatal disadvantage.
In the wake of the contested 1872 election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, a group of white Democrats armed with rifles and a small cannon, overpowered Republican freedmen and state militia (also black) occupying the Grant Parish courthouse in Colfax.
Most of the freedmen were killed after they surrendered; nearly 50 were killed later that night after being held as prisoners for several hours.
Estimates of the number of dead have varied, ranging from 62 to 153; three whites died but the number of black victims was difficult to determine because bodies had been thrown into the river or removed for burial. There were rumors of mass graves at the site.
Historian Eric Foner described the massacre as the worst instance of racial violence during Reconstruction.
In Louisiana, it had the highest fatalities of any of the numerous violent events following the disputed gubernatorial contest in 1872 between Republicans and Democrats. Foner wrote, “…every election [in Louisiana] between 1868 and 1876 was marked by rampant violence and pervasive fraud.”
Although the Fusionist-dominated state “returning board,” which ruled on vote validity, initially declared John McEnery and his Democratic slate the winners, the board eventually split, with a faction declaring Republican William P. Kellogg the victor. A Republican federal judge in New Orleans ruled that the Republican-majority legislature be seated.
Federal prosecution and conviction of a few perpetrators at Colfax under the Enforcement Acts was appealed to the Supreme Court. In a key case, the court ruled in United States v. Cruikshank (1876) that protections of the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to the actions of individuals, but only to the actions of state governments.
After this ruling, the federal government could no longer use the Enforcement Act of 1870 to prosecute actions by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which had chapters forming across Louisiana beginning in 1874.
Intimidation and black voter suppression by such paramilitary groups were instrumental to the Democratic Party regaining political control in the state legislature by the late 1870s.
(from Wikipedia, “Colfax Massacre”)
We are going to jump a bit out of sequence here and skip to the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 before we end with the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898.
The Tulsa race riot, or Tulsa race riot of 1921, occurred between May 31 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob started attacking residents and businesses of the African-American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in what is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States.
The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the nation.
More than 800 people were admitted to hospitals and more than 6,000 black residents were arrested and detained, many for several days.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 39 dead, but the American Red Cross estimated 300.
The riot began over a Memorial Day weekend after a young black man was accused of raping a young white female elevator operator at a commercial building. After he was taken into custody, rumors raced through the black community that he was at risk of being lynched.
A group of armed African-American men rushed to the police station, to prevent a lynching, where the young suspect was held and a white crowd had gathered.
A confrontation developed between blacks and whites; shots were fired, and some whites and blacks were killed. As this news spread throughout the city, mob violence exploded.
Thousands of whites rampaged through the black community that night and the next day, killing men and women, burning and looting stores and homes.
About 10,000 black people were left homeless, and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property ($31 million in 2018).
Some black people claimed that policemen had joined the mob; others said that National Guardsmen fired a machine gun into the black community and a plane dropped sticks of dynamite.
In an eyewitness account discovered in 2015, Greenwood attorney Buck Colbert Franklin described watching a dozen or more planes, which had been dispatched by the city police force, drop burning balls of turpentine on Greenwood’s rooftops.
Many survivors left Tulsa. Both black and white residents who stayed in the city were silent for decades about the terror, violence, and losses of this event. The riot was largely omitted from local and state, as well as national, histories: “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.”
(from Wikipedia, “Tulsa Race Riot”)
North Carolina 1898
Originally described by white Americans as a race riot caused by blacks. However, over time, with more facts discovered, the event has come to be classified as a coup d’etat, with complex causes that were social, political and economic.
It is the only successful coup d’état on record in the U.S.
The coup occurred after the state’s white Conservative Democratic Party conspired, and led a mob of 2,000 white men, to overthrow the legitimately elected local Fusionist government, expelling black leaders from the city, destroying the property and businesses of black citizens built up since the Civil War, including the only black newspaper in the city, and killing an estimated 60, to more than 300, people.
…… the Red Shirts left the convention and started terrorizing black citizens and their white allies, in the eastern part of the state, right away. They destroyed property, ambushed citizens with weapon fire, and kidnapped people from their homes and whipped them at night, with the goal of terrorizing them to the point where Republican sympathizers would be too afraid to vote, or even register to do so…..
A number of black men attempted to purchase guns and powder, but the gun merchants, who were all white, refused to sell them any.
The merchants would also report, to the clubs, on any black person who tried to procure arms. Some blacks tried to circumvent the local merchants, by trying to purchase guns outside of the state, such as the Winchester Arms Company of New Jersey.
However, the manufacture would refer the request back to their North Carolina state branch, which would then call the order in to the local Wilmington branch.
Once the state branch learned, from the local branch, that the purchasers were black, the state branch would refuse to fill the order.
Despite it being legal for blacks to own and purchase guns, they were unable to procure any for their defense, except a few men who owned old army muskets or pistols.
Merchants sold no guns to blacks between November 1st and November 10th, but later testified that they sold over 400 guns to whites over the same period.
Newspapers had incited people into believing that confrontation was inevitable. Rumors began to spread that blacks were purchasing guns and ammunition, readying themselves for a confrontation. Whites began to suspect black leaders were conspiring in churches, making revolutionary speeches and pleading with the community to arm themselves with bullets, or to sabotage white cotton bales with kerosene and torches to fight……
……The election occurred with little interference. However, most blacks, and many Republicans, did not vote, hoping to avoid violence, as Red Shirts had blocked every road leading in and out of the city, and driving any perceived black voter away with gunfire.
The Red Shirts were in line with Congressman W.W. Kitchin, who declared, “Before we allow the Negroes to control this state as they do now, we will kill enough of them that there will not be enough left to bury them.”…….
Despite the Democrats’ inflammatory rhetoric in support of white supremacy, and the Red Shirt armed display, the biracial Fusionist government still remained in power in Wilmington.
The night following the election, Democrats ordered white men to patrol the streets, expecting blacks to retaliate. However, no retaliation occurred…..
When Waddell and the Committee did not received a response (it is unclear when, Waddell checked his mailbox) by 7:30 a.m., about 45 minutes later, he gathered about 500 white businessmen and veterans to the Wilmington’s armory.
After heavily arming themselves with rifles, and the Gatlin gun, Waddell then led the group to the two-story publishing office of “The Daily Record.”
They broke into Manley’s publishing press, vandalized the premises, doused the wood floors with kerosene, set the building on fire, and gutted the remains.
At the same time, black newspapers all over the state, were also being destroyed. In addition, blacks, along with white Republicans, were denied entrance to city centers throughout the state.
Following the fire, the mob of white vigilantes swelled into about 2,000 men. A rumor circulated that some blacks had fired on a small group of white men a mile away from the printing-office.
White men then went into black Wilmington neighborhoods, destroying black businesses and property, and assaulting black inhabitants with a mentality of killing “every damn nigger in sight.”
As Waddell led a group to disband, and drive out, the political institution of the city, the armed white mob rioted and shotguns, attacking blacks throughout Wilmington, but primarily in Brooklyn, the majority-black neighborhood.
The small patrols were spread out over the city and continued until nightfall. Walker Taylor was authorized by Governor Russell to command the Wilmington Light Infantry (WLI) troops, just returned from the Spanish–American War, and the federal Naval Reserves, taking them into Brooklyn to quell the “riot.”
They intimidated both black and white crowds with rapid-fire weapons, and killed several black men. Hundreds of blacks fled the town to take shelter in nearby swamps.
…..The coup was deemed a “success” for the business elite, with The Charlotte Observer quoting a prominent lawyer who said:
“…the business men of the State are largely responsible for the victory….We have tried to win them [the Populists] back by coaxing. In doing this, we have insulted some of the best businessmen in the state…But not so this year. Not before in years have the bank men, the mill men, and the business men in general — the backbone of the property interest of the State — taken such sincere interest. They worked from start to finish, and furthermore they spent large bits of money on behalf of the cause. For several years, this class of men has been almost ignored.”
It is estimated that, by the end of the day, Waddell’s orders led to the murder of between 60 and 300 black people, and to the banishment of about 20 more
(from Wikipedia, “Wilmington Insurrection of 1898)
These excerpts only highlight what, for me, are the most jarring examples of how laws have been used to target an undesired minority, and how those laws then tilted the balance of force power heavily towards the accepted groups.
In this case, we are talking about blacks being in the undesired minority and white supremacists being in the accepted group. But tomorrow, who knows what groups will be deemed undesired and what groups will be favored.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself, be it by choice or biological circumstance, with one of the undesired minorities, and you currently support gun control, one day you may be, as the saying goes, hoisted on your own petard, done in by your own anti-human, anti-liberty, anti-progress work.
This presentation only touched upon one aspect of gun control, the racist element. Implied in this, sometimes explicitly, but most implicitly, lies also the element of class control.
Gun control is and will always be the oppressor of the poor and the undesired minorities, for the ones with means will have ways to be afforded access to self defense that those without means, living in a land with gun control, will not be able to afford to access.
Gun Control is Racist, classist, and it is the very fuel of tyrants.