Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gun Control and Black American Civil Rights

Holy Week has "got in the way"(not that I am complaining) of my posting on more secular items. Also some religious ones. I commented at Cajun Huguenot for instance I was going to respond to this post he did on Martin Luther. I intend to do that late tonight.

However I still intend to go into the Heller Case later on which is the big second amendment case in more detail. Here is a post on the overview of the case and the courts oral arguments.

The second amendment is often cited as giving some protection against Government tyranny. The Court in the Heller Case talked about that in a way. It would have been very interesting if Justice Thomas could have spoke up a tad and interjected perhaps some interesting history he might have been very much aware of. Perhaps it would have been similar to the current United State Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice past comments on Larry King:

KING: We have a Second Amendment. People can own guns. By the way, what do you think about gun control?
RICE: The way I come out of my own personal experience, in which in Birmingham, Alabama, my father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against White Knight Riders by going to the head of the community, the head of the cul-de-sac, and sitting there, armed. And so I'm very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment.I'll tell you that I know that if Bull Conner had had lists of -- of registered weapons, I don't think my father and his friends would have been sitting at the head of the community, defending the community.

KING: So you would not change the Second Amendment? You would not..
.RICE: I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution. The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment.

KING: But doesn't having the guns, while it's protection, also leads to people killing people?
RICE: Well, obviously, the sources of violence are many, and we need to -- to get at the source of the violence. Obviously, I'm very much in favor of things like background checks, and you know, controlling it at gun shows. And there are lots of things we can do.But we have to be very careful when we start abridging rights that our Founding Fathers thought very important. On this one, I think that they understood that there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Alabama, when in fact, the police weren't going to protect you.

KING: Did you see him take the gun?
RICE: Oh, absolutely. Every -- every night he and his -- he and his friends kind of organized a little brigade.

KING: How old were you?
RICE: I was 8. Eight years old.

KING: You remember that?
RICE: I remember it very, very well.

This by the way was not an exception. As to my home state of Louisiana the excellent book Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972, recounts how these ordinary black citizen groups armed themselves for self defense all around the state . I have no doubt that this to a large extent held the horrors of the Klan and others from wreaking more horror. This was repeated throughout the country and especially the south. There were laws on the books that in fact tried to limit this right to blacks but they were hard to enforce. Also the the rural nature of the south made such laws impractical. Thus you had in the South an armed class that did perhaps as the Sec of State recounts make a major difference in many races against the tyranny of the majority and the Govt they controlled.

It would indeed be interesting to see if these self armed black groups had in some places a connection with Prince Hall Masonry. The black lodge would have been a natural place to talk about such subjects , to organize, and they would be very much following in the footsteps of some of the original Masonic Founding Fathers.

In the Supreme Courts oral argument Justice Kennedy was quite vocal on the right of self defense and the Second amendment. In fact I would not be surprised if he wrote the majority opinion if Chief Justice Roberts does not write it. Justice Kennedy seems to envisions a more advanced view individual gun rights as seen in perhaps a more advanced version of the old English bill of rights of 1689. Justice Scalia helpfully pointed out that not all were equal under that English law in particular Scottish highlanders and Roman Catholics .

The exclusion of certain people and the right to bear arms is nothing. Returning to the subject of race and the American experience we start to see the first real attempts at gun control during the days after the civil war. Black Americans that now had true equal status under the law for the first time were finding that their gun rights were the first to be attacked.

All this brings me to a post that instapundit had up today that provides links as to this subject. He writes:

GUN RIGHTS and reconstruction.
Those unaware of the importance attached to ensuring that black freedmen could have guns for their own protection against revanchist Southern whites should read this article by Robert Cottrol and Ray Diamond. And those doubting the deliberate effort to disarm black people via gun control laws should read this one.

Of particular interest to Louisiana folks is a sad story that is not exactly a bright spot in Louisiana history. That is the famous(even though not famous enough) Colfax Massacre that occurred in (Ironically) Grant Parish. That is one of the links instapundit highlights.

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