The Racist Roots of Gun Control
~ Foreword ~
Every so often, we are inclined to go back to the ‘roots’ of the Federal Observer, and with today’s posting, and due to the overwhelming controversy over the next generation of gun-grab attempts, the time has come to repost this lengthy column once again. Once again, due to the age of this column (November 2002) some or all of the embedded links may no longer be active. Due your own due-diligence.
But what gave us the idea? Frankly, it was a phone call from a conservative talk show host out of Washington, DC, who came across this posting in its old archive location – and became interested enough to contact me. His name is Ken McClenton, and I will be a guest on his Blogtalk radio program, Monday, January 14, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). You will be able to tune in “live” HERE OR HERE. The topic? Well – you are about to read it. Did I mention that my host happens to be a man of color?
To straighten out the un-enlighted reader – Mr. Whitley is not the author of “The Racist Roots of Gun Control”. He is however the author of the introduction and the closing comments. Our thanks to Mr. Clayton E. Cramer – the author of the main body of this text. We suggest that the NAACP (an organization who seems to have no intention of allowing their ‘people’ to be advanced for anything) – read and study – and then know their own history.
It would seem, the NAACP is willing to sellout the black race by withholding the truth in exchange for a few bucks in a civil case – and may even be willing to go so far as to threaten others of their own race if they try to reveal historical facts dealing with racism if it interferes with their cash-flow. The path the NAACP has taken is…well, as they say, “follow the money” (and the truth be damned).
Jeffrey Bennett, Publisher
The Federal Observer is proud to carry this column – as it seems to have lit the long-dormant fires of activism in many, who have read this lengthy posting. To the authors of hundreds of letters and emails, which we have received since June of 2002 and to those of you who have chosen to post your comments on the pages of this publication – we thank each and every one of you. We would also like to invite our readers and listeners to email the NAACP directly with the same type of comments, which you have been forwarding to us. Keep it clean and keep it simple – and keep it straight to the point.
For those of you who question the motives of The Federal Observer – they are motives of truth and unity – for people of all colors and creeds. The time has come for the truth to be set free – so that all of us may once again experience the freedom once granted to us by the Almighty Creator.
We invite the NAACP to join us in this last fight for freedom – freedom for all! We need each other now more than ever before.
Editor’s Update: November 25, 2002
What The Federal Observer would like to know – in these “politically correct” times – Does the NAACP wish to be known as Negro, Colored, Black, Afro-American or African American? What is their REAL agenda? After all – this is the 21st Century and these people are a long way behind the times!
The Federal Observer will continue to recycle this article over and over until a positive change is brought about. (Ed.)
~ Introduction ~
Speaking as an African-American, I depend upon our representatives in government and the African-American leaders in our communities to keep you and me informed of racism in all its forms. Because we live in Orwellian times, racism is more subtle today and is often disguised.
Needless to say I was shocked when a co-worker (who is white by the way) handed me an essay titled “The Racist Roots of Gun Control” by Clayton E. Cramer. This essay covers the long history of gun control in America, and how it was originally used to keep African-Americans “in their place.” Originally, gun control laws were never intended for whites.
My question is: Why am I only learning of this now? How is it I never learned this in school? Where is Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? NAACP? Shouldn’t they have brought this issue to light?
When I first started making copies of this essay and passing them out I thought I would receive resistance from the Klan, Skin Heads, members of the Aryan Nation, etc. But I never heard from them. However, I have been contacted by representatives of the NAACP from several states telling me to “back off” in my attempts to make these facts known. Each call boils down to “…now is not the appropriate time…” Why not?
At the present time, the NAACP has a lawsuit against a number of firearms manufacturers, claiming that they’ve flooded black communities with firearms. (Fact of the matter is the manufacturers have no control over where the firearms go — that’s determined by the dealers who order the firearms.) Revealing the historical facts concerning how gun control laws were racist in their beginnings would be counterproductive at this time, I’m told.
If the NAACP goes through with their lawsuit at this time they can never, I repeat, never, bring up the issue of how Blacks have been discriminated against via racist gun laws in the future. How can the NAACP complain that Blacks in America have been historically denied the protection of the Second Amendment and at the same time sue firearms manufacturers for selling guns to Blacks? They can’t have it both ways. Besides, if the NAACP does win the lawsuit, won’t that make the cost of guns we need for self-defense unaffordable for some poor people who might need them the most?
To add insult to injury, it’s almost as though the NAACP is saying that none of us African-Americans can be trusted with firearms because the criminal element misuses them. Are we really so irresponsible that we let guns “flood” our neighborhoods, and then somehow let those guns jump up and cause crime? Rather than make that argument, why doesn’t the NAACP go after the perpetrators of crime instead of gun manufacturers whose product is absolutely necessary for defense against racists and criminals?
The purpose of this newsletter is to inform as many African-Americans as possible about the true motives behind gun control.
“The Racist Roots of Gun Control” essay alerted me to the true nature of gun control in America. Read it for yourself and decide if our leaders and teachers have been keeping the truth from us.
The Racist Roots of Gun Control
The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws – and not in any subtle way. Throughout much of American history, gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics “in their place,” and to quiet the racial fears of whites. This paper is intended to provide a brief summary of this unholy alliance of gun control and racism, and to suggest that gun control laws should be regarded as “suspect ideas,” analogous to the “suspect classifications” theory of discrimination already part of the American legal system.
Racist arms laws predate the establishment of the United States. Starting in 1751, the French Black Code required Louisiana colonists to stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat “any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.” If a black refused to stop on demand, and was on horseback, the colonist was authorized to “shoot to kill.”  Slave possession of firearms was a necessity at times in a frontier society, yet laws continued to be passed in an attempt to prohibit slaves or free blacks from possessing firearms, except under very restrictively controlled conditions.  Similarly, in the sixteenth century the colony of New Spain, terrified of black slave revolts, prohibited all blacks, free and slave, from carrying arms. 
In the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s, the slave population successfully threw off their French masters, but the Revolution degenerated into a race war, aggravating existing fears in the French Louisiana colony, and among whites in the slave states of the United States. When the first U. S. official arrived in New Orleans in 1803 to take charge of this new American possession, the planters sought to have the existing free black militia disarmed, and otherwise exclude “free blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms,” including such non-military functions as slave-catching crews. The New Orleans city government also stopped whites from teaching fencing to free blacks, and then, when free blacks sought to teach fencing, similarly prohibited their efforts as well. 
It is not surprising that the first North American English colonies, then the states of the new republic, remained in dread fear of armed blacks, for slave revolts against slave owners often degenerated into less selective forms of racial warfare. The perception that free blacks were sympathetic to the plight of their enslaved brothers, and the dangerous example that “a Negro could be free” also caused the slave states to pass laws designed to disarm all blacks, both slave and free. Unlike the gun control laws passed after the Civil War, these antebellum statutes were for blacks alone. In Maryland, these prohibitions went so far as to prohibit free blacks from owning dogs without a license, and authorizing any white to kill an unlicensed dog owned by a free black, for fear that blacks would use dogs as weapons. Mississippi went further, and prohibited any ownership of a dog by a black person. 
Understandably, restrictions on slave possession of arms go back a very long way. While arms restrictions on free blacks predate it, these restrictions increased dramatically after Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831, a revolt that caused the South to become increasingly irrational in its fears.  Virginia’s response to Turner’s Rebellion prohibited free blacks “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead…” The existing laws under which free blacks were occasionally licensed to possess or carry arms was also repealed, making arms possession completely illegal for free blacks.  But even before this action by the Virginia Legislature, in the aftermath of Turner’s Rebellion, the discovery that a free black family possessed lead shot for use as scale weights, without powder or weapon in which to fire it, was considered sufficient reason for a frenzied mob to discuss summary execution of the owner.  The analogy to the current hysteria where mere possession of ammunition in some states without a firearms license may lead to jail time, should be obvious.
One example of the increasing fear of armed blacks is the 1834 change to the Tennessee Constitution, where Article XI, 26 of the 1796 Tennessee Constitution was revised from: “That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence,”  to: “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.”  [emphasis added] It is not clear what motivated this change, other than Turner’s bloody insurrection. The year before, the Tennessee Supreme Court had recognized the right to bear arms as an individual guarantee, but there is nothing in that decision that touches on the subject of race.  Other decisions during the antebellum period were unambiguous about the importance of race. In State v. Huntly (1843), the North Carolina Supreme Court had recognized that there was a right to carry arms guaranteed under the North Carolina Constitution, as long as such arms were carried in a manner not likely to frighten people.  The following year, the North Carolina Supreme Court made one of those decisions whose full significance would not appear until after the Civil War and passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. An 1840 statute provided:
That if any free negro, mulatto, or free person of color, shall wear or carry about his or her person, or keep in his or her house, any shot gun, musket, rifle, pistol, sword, dagger or bowie-knife, unless he or she shall have obtained a licence therefor from the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of his or her county, within one year preceding the wearing, keeping or carrying therefor, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be indicted therefor. 
Elijah Newsom, “a free person of color,” was indicted in Cumberland County in June of 1843 for carrying a shotgun without a license — at the very time the North Carolina Supreme Court was deciding Huntly. Newsom was convicted by a jury; but the trial judge directed a not guilty verdict, and the state appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Newsom’s attorney argued that the statute requiring free blacks to obtain a license to “keep and bear arms” was in violation of both the Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, and the North Carolina Constitution’s similar guarantee of a right to keep and bear arms.  The North Carolina Supreme Court refused to accept that the Second Amendment was a limitation on state laws, but had to deal with the problem of the state constitutional guarantees, which had been used in the Huntly decision, the year before.
The 17th article of the 1776 North Carolina Constitution declared:
That the people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. 
The Court asserted that: “We cannot see that the act of 1840 is in conflict with it… The defendant is not indicted for carrying arms in defence of the State, nor does the act of 1840 prohibit him from so doing.”  But in Huntly, the Court had acknowledged that the restrictive language “for the defence of the State” did not preclude an individual right.  The Court then attempted to justify the necessity of this law:
Its only object is to preserve the peace and safety of the community from being disturbed by an indiscriminate use, on ordinary occasions, by free men of color, of fire arms or other arms of an offensive character. Self preservation is the first law of nations, as it is of individuals. 
The North Carolina Supreme Court also sought to repudiate the idea that free blacks were protected by the North Carolina Constitution’s Bill of Rights by pointing out that the Constitution excluded free blacks from voting, and therefore free blacks were not citizens. Unlike a number of other state constitutions with right to keep and bear arms provisions that limited this right only to citizens,  Article 17 guaranteed this right to the people — and try as hard as they might, it was difficult to argue that a “free person of color,” in the words of the Court, was not one of “the people.”
It is one of the great ironies that, in much the same way that the North Carolina Supreme Court recognized a right to bear arms in 1843 — then a year later declared that free blacks were not included — the Georgia Supreme Court did likewise before the 1840s were out. The Georgia Supreme Court found in Nunn v. State (1846) that a statute prohibiting the sale of concealable handguns, sword-canes, and daggers violated the Second Amendment:
The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all of this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is, that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right, originally belonging to our forefathers, trampled under foot by Charles I. and his two wicked sons and successors, reestablished by the revolution of 1688, conveyed to this land of liberty by the colonists, and finally incorporated conspicuously in our own Magna Charta! And Lexington, Concord, Camden, River Raisin, Sandusky, and the laurel-crowned field of New Orleans, plead eloquently for this interpretation! 
Finally, after this paean to liberty — in a state where much of the population remained enslaved, forbidden by law to possess arms of any sort — the Court defined the valid limits of laws restricting the bearing of arms:
We are of the opinion, then, that so far as the act of 1837 seeks to suppress the practice of carrying certain weapons secretly, that it is valid, inasmuch as it does not deprive the citizen of his natural right of self- defence, or of his constitutional right to keep and bear arms. But that so much of it, as contains a prohibition against bearing arms openly, is in conflict with the Constitution, and void… 
“Citizen”? Within a single page, the Court had gone from “right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys” to the much more narrowly restrictive right of a “citizen.” The motivation for this sudden narrowing of the right appeared two years later.
The decision Cooper and Worsham v. Savannah (1848) was not, principally, a right to keep and bear arms case. In 1839, the city of Savannah, Georgia, in an admitted effort “to prevent the increase of free persons of color in our city,” had established a $100 per year tax on free blacks moving into Savannah from other parts of Georgia. Samuel Cooper and Hamilton Worsham, two “free persons of color,” were convicted of failing to pay the tax, and were jailed.  On appeal, counsel for Cooper and Worsham argued that the ordinance establishing the tax was deficient in a number of technical areas; the assertion of most interest to us is, “In Georgia, free persons of color have constitutional rights…” Cooper and Worsham’s counsel argued that these rights included writ of habeas corpus, right to own real estate, to be “subject to taxation,” “[t]hey may sue and be sued,” and cited a number of precedents under Georgia law in defense of their position. 
Justice Warner delivered the Court’s opinion, most of which is irrelevant to the right to keep and bear arms, but one portion shows the fundamental relationship between citizenship, arms, and elections, and why gun control laws were an essential part of defining blacks as “non-citizens”: “Free persons of color have never been recognized here as citizens; they are not entitled to bear arms, vote for members of the legislature, or to hold any civil office.”  The Georgia Supreme Court did agree that the ordinance jailing Cooper and Worsham for non-payment was illegal, and ordered their release, but the comments of the Court made it clear that their brave words in Nunn v. State (1846) about “the right of the people,” really only meant white people.
While settled parts of the South were in great fear of armed blacks, on the frontier, the concerns about Indian attack often forced relaxation of these rules. The 1798 Kentucky Comprehensive Act allowed slaves and free blacks on frontier plantations “to keep and use guns, powder, shot, and weapons, offensive and defensive.” Unlike whites, however, a license was required for free blacks or slaves to carry weapons. 
The need for blacks to carry arms for self-defense included not only the problem of Indian attack, and the normal criminal attacks that anyone might worry about, but he additional hazard that free blacks were in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery.  A number of states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, passed laws specifically to prohibit kidnapping of free blacks, out of concern that the federal Fugitive Slave Laws would be used as cover for re-enslavement. 
The end of slavery in 1865 did not eliminate the problems of racist gun control laws; the various Black Codes adopted after the Civil War required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms or Bowie knives; these are sufficiently well-known that any reasonably complete history of the Reconstruction period mentions them. These restrictive gun laws played a part in the efforts of the Republicans to get the Fourteenth Amendment ratified, because it was difficult for night riders to generate the correct level of terror in a victim who was returning fire.  It does appear, however, that the requirement to treat blacks and whites equally before the law led to the adoption of restrictive firearms laws in the South that were equal in the letter of the law, but unequally enforced. It is clear that the vagrancy statutes adopted at roughly the same time, in 1866, were intended to be used against blacks, even though the language was race-neutral. 
The former states of the Confederacy, many of which had recognized the right to carry arms openly before the Civil War, developed a very sudden willingness to qualify that right. One especially absurd example, and one that includes strong evidence of the racist intentions behind gun control laws, is Texas.
In Cockrum v. State (1859), the Texas Supreme Court had recognized that there was a right to carry defensive arms, and that this right was protected under both the Second Amendment, and section 13 of the Texas Bill of Rights. The outer limit of the state’s authority (in this case, attempting to discourage the carrying of Bowie knives), was that it could provide an enhanced penalty for manslaughters committed with Bowie knives.  Yet, by 1872, the Texas Supreme Court denied that there was any right to carry any weapon for self-defense under either the state or federal constitutions — and made no attempt to explain or justify why the Cockrum decision was no longer valid.  What caused the dramatic change? The following excerpt from that same decision – so offensive that no one would dare make such an argument today – sheds some light on the racism that apparently caused the sudden perspective change:
The law under consideration has been attacked upon the ground that it was contrary to public policy, and deprived the people of the necessary means of self- defense; that it was an innovation upon the customs and habits of the people, to which they would not peaceably submit… We will not say to what extent the early customs and habits of the people of this state should be respected and accommodated, where they may come in conflict with the ideas of intelligent and well-meaning legislators. A portion of our system of laws, as well as our public morality, is derived from a people the most peculiar perhaps of any other in the history and derivation of its own system. Spain, at different periods of the world, was dominated over by the Carthagenians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Snovi, the Allani, the Visigoths, and Arabs; and to this day there are found in the Spanish codes traces of the laws and customs of each of these nations blended together in a system by no means to be compared with the sound philosophy and pure morality of the common law. 
This particular decision is more open than most as to its motivations, but throughout the South during this period, the existing precedents that recognized a right to open carry under state constitutional provisions were being narrowed, or simply ignored. Nor was the reasoning that led to these changes lost on judges in the North. In 1920, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Mexican for concealed carry of a handgun–while asleep in his own bed. Justice Wanamaker’s scathing dissent criticized the precedents cited by the majority in defense of this absurdity:
I desire to give some special attention to some of the authorities cited, supreme court decisions from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and one or two inferior court decisions from New York, which are given in support of the doctrines upheld by this court. The southern states have very largely furnished the precedents. It is only necessary to observe that the race issue there has extremely intensified a decisive purpose to entirely disarm the negro, and this policy is evident upon reading the opinions. 
While not relevant to the issue of racism, Justice Wanamaker’s closing paragraphs capture well the biting wit and intelligence of this jurist, who was unfortunately, outnumbered on the bench:
I hold that the laws of the state of Ohio should be so applied and so interpreted as to favor the law-abiding rather than the law-violating people. If this decision shall stand as the law of Ohio, a very large percentage of the good people of Ohio to-day are criminals, because they are daily committing criminal acts by having these weapons in their own homes for their own defense. The only safe course for them to pursue, instead of having the weapon concealed on or about their person, or under their pillow at night, is to hang the revolver on the wall and put below it a large placard with these words inscribed:
“The Ohio supreme court having decided that it is a crime to carry a concealed weapon on one’s person in one’s home, even in one’s bed or bunk, this weapon is hung upon the wall that you may see it, and before you commit any burglary or assault, please, Mr. Burglar, hand me my gun.” 
There are other examples of remarkable honesty from the state supreme courts on this subject, of which the finest is probably Florida Supreme Court Justice Buford’s concurring opinion in Watson v. Stone (1941), in which a conviction for carrying a handgun without a permit was overturned, because the handgun was in the glove compartment of a car:
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. 
Today is not 1893, and when proponents of restrictive gun control insist that their motivations are color-blind, there is a possibility that they are telling the truth. Nonetheless, there are some rather interesting questions that should be asked today.
The most obvious question is, “Why should a police chief or sheriff have any discretion in issuing a concealed handgun permit?” Here in California, even the state legislature’s research arm – hardly a nest of pro-gunners – has admitted that the vast majority of permits to carry concealed handguns in California are issued to white males.  Even if overt racism is not an issue, an official may simply have more empathy with an applicant of a similar cultural background, and consequently be more able to relate to the applicant’s concerns. As my wife pointedly reminded a police official when we applied for concealed weapon permits, “If more police chiefs were women, a lot more women would get permits, and be able to defend themselves from rapists.”
Gun control advocates today are not so foolish as to openly promote racist laws, and so the question might be asked what relevance the racist past of gun control laws has. One concern is that the motivations for disarming blacks in the past are really not so different from the motivations for disarming law-abiding citizens today. In the last century, the official rhetoric in support of such laws was that “they” were too violent, too untrustworthy, to be allowed weapons. Today, the same elitist rhetoric regards law-abiding Americans in the same way, as child-like creatures in need of guidance from the government. In the last century, while never openly admitted, one of the goals of disarming blacks was to make them more willing to accept various forms of economic oppression, including the sharecropping system, in which free blacks were reduced to an economic state not dramatically superior to the conditions of slavery.
In the seventeenth century, the aristocratic power structure of colonial Virginia found itself confronting a similar challenge from lower class whites. These poor whites resented how the men who controlled the government used that power to concentrate wealth into a small number of hands. These wealthy feeders at the government trough would have disarmed poor whites if they could, but the threat of both Indian and pirate attack made this impractical; for all white men “were armed and had to be armed…” Instead, blacks, who had occupied a poorly defined status between indentured servant and slave, were reduced to hereditary chattel slavery, so that poor whites could be economically advantaged, without the upper class having to give up its privileges. 
Today, the forces that push for gun control seem to be heavily (though not exclusively) allied with political factions that are committed to dramatic increases in taxation on the middle class. While it would be hyperbole to compare higher taxes on the middle class to the suffering and deprivation of sharecropping or slavery, the analogy of disarming those whom you wish to economically disadvantage, has a certain worrisome validity to it.
Another point to consider is that in the American legal system, certain classifications of governmental discrimination are considered constitutionally suspect, and these “suspect classifications” (usually considered to be race and religion) come to a court hearing under a strong presumption of invalidity. The reason for these “suspect classifications” is because of the long history of governmental discrimination based on these classifications, and because these classifications often impinge on fundamental rights. 
In much the same way, gun control has historically been a tool of racism, and associated with racist attitudes about black violence. Similarly, many gun control laws impinge on that most fundamental of rights: self-defense. Racism is so intimately tied to the history of gun control in America that we should regard gun control aimed at law-abiding people as a “suspect idea,” and require that the courts use the same demanding standards when reviewing the constitutionality of a gun control law, that they would use with respect to a law that discriminated based on race.
About the Author
Clayton E. Cramer is a software engineer with a telecommunications manufacturer in Northern California. His first book, By The Dim And Flaring Lamps: The Civil War Diary of Samuel McIlvaine, was published in 1990. …For The Defense of Themselves And The State: The Original Intent & Judicial Interpretation of the Right To Keep And Bear Arms … was published by Greenwood/Praeger Press in 1994.
~ NOTES ~
1. Thomas N. Ingersoll, “Free Blacks in a Slave Society: New Orleans, 1718-1812″, William and Marry Quarterly, 48:2 [April, 1991], 178-79.
2. Daniel H. Usner, Jr., Indians, Settlers, & Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783, (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 139, 165, 187.
3. Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, The Course of Mexican History, 4th ed., (New York, Oxford University Press: 1991), 216.
4. Ingersoll, 192-200. Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Making of America, 3rd ed., (New York, Macmillan Publishing: 1987), 81.
5. Theodore Brantner Wilson, The Black Codes of the South (University of Alabama Press: 1965), 26-30.
6. Stanley Elkins, Slavery, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press: 1968), 220.
7. Eric Foner, ed., Nat Turner, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall: 1971), 115.
8. Harriet Jacobs [Linda Brant], Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, (Boston: 1861), in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., The Classic Slave Narratives, (New York, Penguin Books: 1987), 395-396.
9. Francis Newton Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming The United States of America, (Washington, Government Printing Office: 1909), reprinted (Grosse Pointe, Mich., Scholarly Press: n.d.), 6:3424.
10. Thorpe, 6:3428.
11. Simpson v. State, 5 Yerg. 356 (Tenn. 1833).
12. State v. Huntly, 3 Iredell 418, 422, 423 (N.C. 1843).
13. State v. Newsom, 5 Iredell 181, 27 N.C. 250 (1844).
14. State v. Newsom, 5 Iredell 181, 27 N.C. 250, 251 (1844).
15. Thorpe, 5:2788.
16. State v. Newsom, 5 Iredell 181, 27 N.C. 250, 254 (1844).
17. State v. Huntly, 3 Iredell 418, 422 (N.C. 1843).
18. State v. Newsom, 5 Iredell 181, 27 N.C. 250, 254 (1844).
19. Early state constitutions limiting the right to bear arms to citizens: Connecticut (1818), Kentucky (1792 & 1799), Maine (1819), Mississippi (1817), Pennsylvania (1790 – but not the 1776 constitution), Republic of Texas (1838), State of Texas (1845).
20. Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 250, 251 (1846).
21. Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 250, 251 (1846).
22. Cooper and Worsham v. Savannah, 4 Ga. 68, 69 (1848).
23. Cooper and Worsham v. Savannah, 4 Ga. 68, 70, 71 (1848).
24. Cooper and Worsham v. Savannah, 4 Ga. 68, 72 (1848).
25. Juliet E. K. Walker, Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier, (Lexington, KY, University Press of Kentucky: 1983), 21. This is an inspiring biography of a slave who, through hard work moonlighting in the production of saltpeter (a basic ingredient of black powder) and land surveying, saved enough money to buy his wife, himself, and eventually all of his children and grandchildren out of slavery – while fighting against oppressive laws and vigorous racism. Most impressive of all, is that he did it without ever learning to read or write.
26. Walker, 73.
27. Stephen Middleton, The Black Laws in the Old Northwest: A Documentary History, (Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press: 1993), 27-32, 227-240, 309-314, 353-357, 403-404.
28. Michael Les Benedict, The Fruits of Victory: Alternatives to Restoring the Union, 1865-1877, (New York, J.B. Lippincott Co.: 1975), 87. Francis L. Broderick, Reconstruction and the American Negro, 1865-1900, (London, Macmillan Co.: 1969), 21. Dan T. Carter, When The War Was Over: The Failure of Self-Reconstruction in the South, 1865- 1867, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press: 1985), 219-221. Eric Foner, Reconstruction, (New York, Harper & Row: 1988), 258-259.
29. Foner, Reconstruction, 200-201.
30. Cockrum v. State, 24 Tex. 394, 401, 402, 403 (1859).
31. English v. State, 35 Tex. 473, 475 (1872).
32. English v. State, 35 Tex. 473, 479, 480 (1872).
33. State v. Nieto, 101 Ohio St. 409, 430, 130 N.E. 663 (1920).
34. State v. Nieto, 101 Ohio St. 409, 436, 130 N.E. 663 (1920).
35. Watson v. Stone, 4 So.2d 700, 703 (Fla. 1941).
36. Assembly Office of Research, Smoking Gun: The Case For Concealed Weapon Permit Reform, (Sacramento, State of California: 1986), 5.
37. Edmund S. Morgan, “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox,” in Stanley N. Katz, John M. Murrin, and Douglas Greenberg, ed., Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development, 4th ed., (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc, 1993), 280.
38. Thomas G. Walker, “Suspect Classifications”, Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, (New York, Oxford University Press: 1992), 848.
Copyright 1993 Clayton E. Cramer All Rights Reserved. Electronic redistribution is permitted as long as no alterations are made to the text and this notice appears. Print reproduction or for profit use is not authorized without permission from the author.
How it All Began
A co-worker gave me a copy of “The Racist Roots of Gun Control” by Clayton Cramer. It covers the long history of the origins of gun control, firearms permits, licenses, etc., and how such laws were originally enacted to keep Blacks “in their place.” After reading it I began making copies and mailing them out to various African-American organizations.
So far I received a number of out-of-state (Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia and New York) phone calls telling me to “back off.” One evening the phone rang while I was watching TV. My daughter in another room answered. When she came out of her room a few minutes later and I asked who was on the phone. She said some guy named “Sharpton.” “Sharpton who?,” I asked. “Al Sharpton,” she said. She told me that he asked for someone named “Leon” Whitley, Sharpton got my first name wrong and my daughter figured it was a wrong number and hung-up the phone. A few days later a secretary from Sharpton’s office called and told me that Mr. Sharpton would appreciate it if I would back-off in my efforts with the newsletter.
I was expecting phone calls from the Klan, Skin Heads, White Supremacists groups, etc. No, they were mostly from representatives of the NAACP! To be honest, I haven’t received a single phone call from a White person or group opposing my efforts.
I also received an e-mail which, in large letters, told me to “BACK OFF.” I do not known which person or group wrote the letter. I received another call came from an NAACP representative here in New Jersey basically telling him the same thing, adding, “It all comes down to money.” Whether he was referring to the NAACP’s law suit against firearms manufacturers or donations from liberal supporters is not known. If the NAACP complained about racist gun laws and become pro-Second Amendment financial support from Liberals would disappear over night.
The NAACP recently filed a law suit against firearms manufacturers, claiming they’re unloading too many guns in black neighborhoods. (Something the manufacturers have absolutely no control over. Where the guns go after they leave their companies is determined by the FFL dealers.) Revealing the truth about the historical roots of racist gun laws, at this point in time, would not be in the best interest of the NAACP. Actually, it would be a great embarrassment if these truths were revealed during the course of their civil trial — an issue firearms manufacturers should consider in their defense.
On a Wednesday I received a phone call from New York, a black man disguising his voice to sound white, with a distinct southern accent. The phone conversation started off with two questions: “Who the f–k do you think you are?” And, “Are you trying to start a f–king race war?” During the course of the conversation, which was filled with an over abundance of profanity, the caller said, “I have your address right here in front of me – I know where you live.” Whereupon I asked, “Are you threatening me?” The caller replied, “It could get worse.”
It would be easy to conclude that this call was from a white racist if I didn’t notice the disguised voice. However, this is where the story takes a strange twist: The very next day I received a phone call from an NAACP representative, a Blackman, out of Virginia. At first he asks me if I’m still making copies of the essay and mailing them out. When I said yes the caller responded with an exasperated, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” These words were repeated several times during the conversation.
Again, the rep pleaded with me to back off and to stop making copies. He then invites me to come down to Virginia to “…work things out.” Telling me, “There are some things I can’t discuss over the phone.” I declined the invitation.
Now for the strange part. During the conversation I quipped “One of your buddies called me from New York yesterday and cussed me out.” I said it as a joke believing there was no connection. However, the NAACP rep said, “Oh, he called you from New York but he actually lives in Mobile.” Hold on, let’s back up here for a moment. Here’s a NAACP representative out of Virginia who had full knowledge of the threatening phone call I received out of New York. He knew who the caller was and where he lived. Does that spell C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y? There’s something very strange going on here. If this story were written in fictional form it wouldn’t be believed, but, as the old saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” And this isn’t fiction.
Consequently, it would seem, the NAACP is willing to sellout our race by withholding the truth in exchange for a few bucks in a civil case. And may even be willing to go so far as to threaten others of their own race if they try to reveal historical facts dealing with racism if it interferes with their cash-flow.
However, this ploy will create a “Catch-22″ situation for the NAACP further on down the road: If they go through with their civil case against firearms manufacturers, complaining that they’ve put too many firearms into black communities, how can they, at a later date, bring up the issue of gun control being racist and that Blacks have been historically denied a Second Amendment access to firearms? The NAACP can’t have it both ways. And the path the NAACP has taken is…well, as they say, “follow the money” (and the truth be damned).
“With this lawsuit, the NAACP is not only attacking the civil rights of African-Americans, but is also continuing the legacy of the KKK and other racist organizations that have historically tried to keep guns out of the hands of blacks. Politics makes strange bedfellows – and what could be stranger than the NAACP climbing into bed with the grand wizards of the KKK by supporting their racist agenda?” said Steve Dasbach, national director of the Libertarian Party.
By remaining silent the NAACP is guilty of the “Sin of Omission” and have chosen to play the harlot on this one.
They’re “grabbing their ankles” for the Klan and other racist groups in exchange for money. Remember this story the next time your hear an NAACP representative pontificating on the evils of racism.
Again, where do we go from here? Again, you can start by making copies of this column and passing them out to family, friends and coworkers.
~ Post Afterwords ~
The Federal Observer has chosen to make each of the following comments a permanent part of the record. We thank all of you who have made a statement and a stand regarding Mr. Whitley’s comments, and in fact the entire issue of CONTROL.
2002-11-19, Brad Thomas wrote: I have been disappointed at the NAACP’s alliance with the left for several years. This just adds to why the NAACP is out of touch with the interests of blacks, and most other people in the U.S. The NAACP is a truly corrupt organization, willing to sell out liberty for political gain and money.
2002-11-17, Dorothy Matthews wrote: Thank you very much for this article and I’m not surprised at the NAACP’s etc fears. They do not want us to know the whole truth for fear it would diminish their already fading prominence.
2002-11-17, Ed Feltus wrote: Great reading this again, Jeff, thanks for reposting it. I know both of these fine gentlemen well. Great to see this moving forward. This article has gotten a lot of viewing, forwarding and this secret is getting out. The genie is out of the bottle!
2002-09-01, Jeff Booth wrote: Speaking as the “coworker” that helped Leonard Whitley compile the information for his article, ‘Just A Soldier’ totally missed the point. It isn’t about racism but the NAACP’s response (or lack thereof) to racism. Whitley and I were totally staggered by the NAACP’s oppisition. A word of thanks to Jeff Bennett who put the article together which was mailed to him in 3 sections. Great job Jeff!
2002-09-01, Jim March wrote: To: Just A Soldier
The problem is, it’s NOT over. Check the URLs I posted. Racism is very much alive and well in gun control. The courts are “programmed” to open a giant can of whoop-ass on racism.
Equal Rights for CCW Home Page.
2002-09-01, Frank M. Reed wrote: Mr. Whitley:
I am a life member of the NRA and have several published articles regarding gun prohibition. The NAACP is out of touch. As far as I am concerned they are the National Association for the Advancement of Certain Colored People. Feel free to visit my web site link.
2002-08-31, MitchSchaft wrote: Excellent!
2002-08-31, Just a soldier wrote: This was at most, informative. However, all I ever hear anymore is racism. The past is over, stop trying to live off what is long gone and get over it. The more you bring up the supposedly racist underground, bent on destroying every minority, the more you make it clear that you are pathetic. Unless there is a clear racist action, let it rest and get on with your life.
2002-07-26, Rod wrote: “God made men and Sam Colt made men equal” ALL MEN! Regardless of color or race! The NAACP is self serving. It long ago lost the committment to it’s original cause and the veracity of it’s convictions. My dear sweet mother said ” their are none so blind as those that will not see…”. A very enlightening article,as I see it.
2002-07-24, Al Johnson wrote: As a law abiding, tax paying, black American male, I find the audacity of the NAACP leadership on trying to bury this important information extremly disturbing. These are the same characters that expect the American black population to blindly support them in their efforts to extract reparations for slavery from the American people (and that goes for all you working, tax paying black Americans too). And they wonder why they’re having a hard time convincing people that they are being honest.
2002-07-23, Bob Hakes wrote: You sir are a credit to ‘our’ race… the Human race! We must never ‘back off’ of the truth, it is time to dispell all the rhetoric in this country. I thank you for your efforts. God bless.
2002-07-23, Jim March wrote: The first question every reader of TRROGC SHOULD ask is, “is this stuff still going on?”. Check THIS out! It’s a statistical analysis of your odds of having a “Carry Concealed Weapons” permit in California, based on the black demographics of your county. For a look at the “current courtroom implications” of Clayton’s work, see also A Practical Guide To Race And Gun Control
2002-07-23, Edmund Cooper wrote: As a white man, I say this to you: If the heat from the essay becomes more than is reasonable to bear, move to Texas where citizens can carry guns, we welcome law abiding citizens. I recognize your courage and support your efforts.
2002-07-23, Bob Mader wrote: As a fellow captive of the Great Socialist state of New Jersey, all I can say is that YOU ARE THE MAN!
“Nemo me impune lacessit” – no one attacks me and goes unpunished
2002-07-23, “Gunner” wrote: Leonard – do NOT “back off”! As a law abiding citizen of our country, your right to keep and bear arms is the same as mine regardless of what shade of brown your skin happens to be. (mine is a sort of very light brownish pink, sometimes called “white”.) and anyone who wants to take away your right to own and carry a gun means you no good. May i suggest you get in touch with Kenn Blanchard – Black Man With a Gun – he’s a solid man and very much pro gun rights.
2002-07-23, Pete wrote: Leonard – you are absolutely right. The key part of “gun control” is the word “control”. It has always been about keeping the peasants/serfs/slaves out of power, no matter what their color or ethnic origin. As a member of the “gun culture”, NRA, NMLRA, etc., I should be an “ignorant redneck” if you listen to the media. In fact, I have a BA in Sociology, and MA in Anthropology (from UC Berkeley), and consider myself as politically somewhere out on the lunatic fringe of the Libertarian party.
2002-07-23, Sherri in Oregon wrote: Slavery is an issue of power, politics, ethics -not color. Slavery is about who shall control whom. It is an historical fact that no slave is issued a weapon/firearm. The small-scale master/slave relationship is in our neighborhoods, but the ultimate master/slave relationship is between people and government. When government changes its laws and declares that I should be stripped of my various firearms, I become a slave -white, female, Christian, American, patriotic, Constitutionalist, grandma.
2002-07-23, Roger T wrote: Always sobering to find out whom one’s enemies are. Hope you’re mad as hell. Welcome to the Revolution.
Roger T, melanin deficient – a shame it matters.
2002-07-22, Gary McDowell wrote: Most of the info shown in this article has been posted on the NRA-ILA and CCKRBA web sites. The new book on “reverend ” Jackson explains why he isn’t in on this fight and the why the NAACP is. BIG dollars they hope. Racism is a buzzword that will get people to do most anything even if its not right or even sensible. The NAACP needs an operectomy to cure their “hazy outlook on life.
2002-07-22, Harlie Noftsger wrote: We are all being lead down the path of our own demise, many in the higher positions in Gov’t and Finance want to see us all in a place of greater peril, and to protray themselves as are saviors. Then we will be lead to the trough of slavery in the name saving us from ourselves. The disarmment of the people is just one of the first steps down the road to ruin and presently we are not taking sufficent notice of the fact and are therefore aiding the process. This is not a racial or ethnic issue.
2002-07-22, Dan (last name withheld) wrote: “… racism is more subtle today and is often disguised.” This is true Leonard, but I wish to make a note. I’m a white man, middle aged and raised in NC. I admit that most of my family are racist. I am not. I have worn an NRA hat in the past and this causes some to view me as a “redneck”, I am not. I’m not a member of the NRA now. I think they are lobbying for more money for “their” cause (more $) and consider them soft on anti-gunners both Rep and Dem. Just wanted to say: I’m on your side too.
2002-07-22, Bill St. Clair wrote: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) has been distributing a “Gran’pa Jack” pamphlet about this for quite a while, See #4, Gun Control is Racist.
2002-07-22, E. Bruce Volensky wrote: It is about time someone noted the racist historical background of gun control. Black America; ALL AMERICA, better wake-up, gun control is about people control! If you are black, stop supporting canidates who favor gun control; all they want to do is control YOU! Gun control will make slaves of us all. Examine history see what has happened to those societies that have strong gun control. FREE MEN OWN GUNS, SLAVES DON’T! Don’t have a plantation mentality, the new “MASSIR” is the government.
Written by Clayton E. Cramer and originally published on the first generation Federal Observer July, 2002.
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