African-Americans and gun rights | Firearms Lawyer

Sometimes I hear people say that the Civil War was not really about slavery. I find that difficult to believe. Nevertheless, the fight for African-American freedom began in earnest after the Civil War ended. The U.S. Supreme Court cited firearms lawyer Stephen Halbrook in the landmark DC vs. Heller decision:

“Blacks were routinely disarmed by Southern States after the Civil War. Those who opposed these injustices frequently stated that they infringed blacks’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Needless to say, the claim was not that blacks were being prohibited from carrying arms in an organized state militia.”

The legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a joint Congressional Report that described how after the Civil War “in some parts of (South Carolina), armed parties… without proper authority, engaged in seizing all firearms found in the hands of the freemen. Such conduct is in clear and direct violation of their personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States….”

After the Civil War, Northerners recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment extended the right to keep and bear arms to newly freed black citizens. Southerners also knew that Constitutional rights for blacks also meant extending gun rights and defiantly enacted laws prohibiting blacks from possessing guns.

An editorial in The Loyal Georgian (Augusta) on Feb. 3, 1866, assured blacks that all “men, without distinction of color, have the right to keep and bear arms to defend their homes, families or themselves.”

Black and white Southerners who expressed such opinions often found themselves defending their homes and families. Some black Civil War veterans were lynched for refusing to surrender service weapons to white militias that rode about enforcing laws prohibiting blacks from possessing firearms.

Martin Luther King knew that reason, not force of arms, was the only method of overcoming ignorance and hatred. But King’s strategies could only work in a nation where citizens love justice and compassion. Crusades against slavery in England and the U.S. could only be effective in nations where the people participate in representative government and are animated by mercy.

Leaders in nations like North Korea, Iran or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have far less concern about voter sensibilities. Despots have few qualms when it comes to killing and torturing demonstrators. The men and women that followed Rev. King proved that a people’s need for dignity triumphs over intimidation and violence. Dialogue alone did not stop the violence, however. In order to advance the struggle for black equality, the federal government deployed armed troops to defend black and white citizens that stood up for justice.

Prior to the Civil War, British warships and their big guns abolished the slave trade by controlling the high seas. Even as freedom marchers risked their lives in the Deep South and Northern cities like Chicago, there were armed black men like the Deacons for the Defense that made the nightriders want to stay a little closer to home. The Founders anticipated that the Republic would face dangerous times.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
How George Floyd’s death is changing history | Roegner

The death of George Floyd at the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Rethinking a natural gas ban in Washington state | Brunell

Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case with legislation making… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Politics and the Sound Transit Board’s big decision for South King County | Roegner

Fortunately, the Sound Transit Board of Directors will make the final decision… Continue reading

Keith Livingston is a longtime Federal Way resident and community observer. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.
Police blotter blues and our sense of accountability | Livingston

Reading the police blotter in any newspaper proves that we as people… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Democrats, Republicans, budgets and taxes | Roegner

Because the Democrats control the state’s House, Senate and the Governor’s Office,… Continue reading

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
Asian women and racial violence in the aftermath of Atlanta | Guest column

In her famous essay “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous resurrects… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
When a sheriff is under investigation | Roegner

I have always viewed the position of sheriff as a non-political professional… Continue reading

An AR-15 and a loaded magazine were recovered from a suspect in a shooting incident at the Kent Station parking garage in 2019. (King County Sheriff’s Office)
Editorial: Lawmakers test public’s patience on gun laws

There were more than 24,000 firearm deaths last year, yet state and national lawmakers seem immovable.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Violence Against Women Act becomes political victim | Roegner

The last thing this country need is to politicize violence against women.… Continue reading

Keith Livingston is a longtime Federal Way resident and community observer. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.
The state of Federal Way’s forward-thinking ‘vision’ | Livingston

I watched the mayor of Federal Way’s 2021 State of the City… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Tax on capital gains stirs debate in Olympia | Roegner

Going into the 2021 legislative session, there were many major issues for… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Voter suppression and the stolen election myth | Roegner

The next two years are going to be as partisan as the… Continue reading