A Flawed Case Against Black Self-Defense

The Second: Race, Guns, and America’s Fatally Inequal AmericaCarol Anderson, Bloomsbury Publishing 258 Pages, $28

Carol Anderson asserts that the Second Amendment was forged in order to suppress slave rebellions, and is therefore irredeemably racist. Other constitutional provisions have been affected by racism. Anderson, however, argues that Anderson is correct in his argument for the Second Amendment. The Second: Race, Guns, and America’s Fatally Inequal AmericaThe affliction can be irreversible.

Anderson writes that the Second Amendment has “so many structural flaws and is so based in Black exclusion/debasement that it cannot ever be a pathway for civil and human right for 47.5 millions African Americans,” Anderson says. Anderson says that the current-day veneration for the Second Amendment is likened to the holding of the three fifths clause as sacrosanct. Both were designed to deprive African Americans of humanity and their rights, while still retaining constitutional legitimacy.

When I read these claims I was expecting a frontal attack against the opposing ideas that I’ve developed in my own scholarship. My work was liberally referenced in the endnotes. Anderson and I worked together on much the same material, but we came to very different conclusions regarding the utility, legitimacy and importance of right of arms for all people, especially blacks.

Anderson, Emory University chair of African American Studies, uses the Second Amendment to represent the richer American right-to-arms. She can focus only on the story of the federal Constitution. The lessons learned from the American Revolution are ignored by her, as well as British efforts to arm colonists during the revolt. These conflicts gave the framing generation plenty to consider and support a strong private right to arms.

The second It also doesn’t acknowledge that right-to-arms has been recognized in places where government actions on guns have always taken place: The states. These, unlike the federal government, are endowed with broad police powers. In the 1920s, there was no federal gun control law. Prior to 1920, gun regulation was an act of the state or local laws.

The second It does not include the separate protections for the right to arm established in 44 out of 50 state constitutions. Anderson explains the history and justifications for the federal right to denounce the Second Amendment’s roots in slavery control. Anderson’s portrayal is distorted by the wider right to arms that’s enshrined within the state constitutions.

Many of the guarantees for state arms were first implemented in the 20th century. Wisconsin’s 1998 Constitutional Amendment was the latest such guarantee. This amendment came as a response to local efforts to ban handguns. A second group of amendments for the 20th century and 21st centuries was designed to emphasize the unique nature of previous provisions. These amendments had nothing whatsoever to do with slavery control. The constitutions of the states admitted into the Union after the Civil War contain 14 arms guarantees. They were also not motivated by fear of insurrections from slaves.

Drawing from mid–19th century conflicts, Anderson argues that armed black self-defense is “ephemeral and white-dependent.” Anderson uses Cincinnati’s failed self-defense episode to show that “the irrelevance” of having guns or not is irrelevant, as the Second Amendment does not work with guns. She argues that racism will forever determine the effectiveness of self-defense claims by blacks.

This is a simplistic view of self-defense dynamics. Self-defense is not easy. The victim must be able to defend themselves against the deadly threats. The second is that it requires the victim to prevail physically against a fatal threat. may require navigation of a subsequent process to have the violence deemed legitimate by some government authority.

It is not difficult to see how racism could affect after-the fact determinations about legitimacy. The effectiveness of self-defense in the beginning is less dependent on the presence of racism. The threat to self-defense will depend on how they are physically surrounded, and not the race of the attacker.

Many self-defense armed personnel will not accept after-the fact assessments. Multiple U.S. surveys place the annual defensive gun use at over a million, but skeptics claim that it’s between 100,000 to 650,000. The vast majority of these cases are not reported to authorities. Many are not reported to authorities—the successful defender simply escapes the threat after brandishing or pointing a gun. Only a small percentage of encounters involve actual shooting, while deadly shootings make up a significant portion.

Interracial violence can be used even in instances where self-defenders of black race shoot people. Modern self-defenders are most at risk from threats made by members of their race, even though interracial violence causes the greatest fear. For blacks, much of this self-defense activity will occur in jurisdictions with large black populations, where mayors,  police chiefs, and much of the law enforcement bureaucracy are black. Anderson claims the government’s assessment of self-defense claims at these locations would appear less white-dependent than Anderson.

Anderson has a very different perspective on armed self defense than millions of legal black gun owners. This divergence suggests not only that racism affects different black people differently but that many factors beyond race—gender, age, disability, relationship status, living situation, geographical location, occupation—may affect decisions about owning and carrying guns.

Anderson doesn’t pay enough attention to what the 14th Amendment has meant for right-to-arms. Post–Civil War efforts to extend the right to arms was a direct response to racist gun control in the former Confederacy. There was an explicit goal to give the right of arms and other federal guarantees to blacks in the debate over the 14th Amendment. It is clear that even free men considered arms to be a vital private resource.

Anderson concludes that the right to arms as developed in the post–Civil War period was still structurally infected by racism and was as a practical matter ultimately useless to blacks.

This is refuted by the actions and words of those who have lived through these nightmares. Anderson asserts that no one can have the right of arms. But the history of freedom movements shows that blacks used arms to combat deadly threats. They also embraced arms in times of neglect or hostilities.

Anderson recounts the horrors experienced by blacks in a lot of her writings. This contradicts Anderson’s belief that blacks shouldn’t be allowed to use armed self defense.

Ida B. said, “Of many inhuman outrages that this year,” Wells said it all in her 1892 pamphlet  Lynch Law and all its Phases“The case in which the suggested lynching occurred was this.” It is not occur, was where the men armed themselves in Jacksonville, Fla., and Paducah, Ky, and prevented it. Only when an Afro-American was carrying a gun or using it for self-defense, did he ever get away from being assaulted? She concluded: “The only time an Afro-American was attacked and escaped is when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.” Afro-Americans will gain more respect if the white man is aware that he can be as aggressive as the victim and run the risk of being bitten to the ground every time.

W.E.B. DuBois described arming self defense as not just a deterrent but a moral obligation. As editor for the NAACP magazine, DuBois wrote CrisisDubois said that even self-defense fails created a norm culturally that deters attacks on the race. NAACP began its existence as an organization protecting blacks who had used firearms for self-defense.

There are volumes of information about the freedom fighters who carried and used guns. I am one of those authors. Negroes and Gun, Charles E. Cobb Jr.’s These Nonviolent Stuffs Will Get You KilledAkinyele Umoja, and. We will shoot back. This list contains Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet as well as T. Thomas Fortune, Bishop Henry Turner (Edwin McCabe), Roy Wilkins, Walter White and James Weldon Johnson. Howard, Fannie Lou Hamer, Hartman Turnbow, Winson Hudson, E.W. Steptoe. Vernon Dahmer. Robert Williams. James Farmer. Bob Hicks. And yes, Martin Luther King Jr.

Anderson’s last prescription is perplexing. Anderson says it is impossible to trust racist malefactors in government to give the right-to-arms fair administration. Blacks need to abjure this right, rather than insisting on it.  This leaves blacks completely dependent on the government malefactors for security. Maybe this concept will be more appealing to others than it was for me. It will be interesting to see what happens.