Over the years on this blog, I’ve made certain observations about human behavior as manifested through online media, like blogs and Twitter.
I’ve captured and codifed some of these observations as “Berg’s Law“, a series of common observations that I’m pretty sure are universal.
One of the most commonly-invoked Laws is “Berg’s Seventh Law”, which states “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds”.
I’ve rung up quite a number of occurrences of Berg’s 7th over the years. And I’ve found another.
Last week the entire lefty alt-media, from Thomm Hartmann and the Daily Kos down through the likes of the esteemed Eric Black at the MinnPost, and thence to every fœtid cay and inlet of the fever swamp, were abuzz with the theory that the Second Amendment was written to protect slave owners. The theory was first advanced by Dr. Carl Bogus fifteen years ago.
As noted least of all in this space, Bogus’ theory has been tried and found, well, bogus by the legal academy. Its’ legal and historical bases have been found unpersuasive. Were it not for leftyblogs and the gullible media’s occasional resurrections, it would have faded from view during the Clinton Administration.
But in my examination (with the help of regular correspondent Joe Doakes) of the history of Bogus’ theory, I’ve so far avoided Berg’s Seventh Law. But it’s called “Berg’s Law”, rather than “Berg’s Theory”, for a reason. Whenever lefties slander conservatives, there’s a reason; they’re hiding something. And that something is this; the roots of gun control are, themselves, deeply racist and inextricably tied to America’s slave-owning past. And unlike Dr. Carl Bogus’ theory, this one is enshrined in that noted right-wing rag, the United States Constitution.
In 1867, a group of freed slaves settled in Galveston, Texas. The local Ku Klux Klan decided to law down what passed for “the law”, in its unwritten, racist form, in those days. But among the freed slaves were a number of veterans of the Union Army’s “colored” regiments; men who’d “seen the elephant”, the slang term of the day for “had see combat”. And they were armed with the “assault rifles” of their day – muzzle-loading percussion-cap Springfield rifles of a caliber, accuracy and firepower un-envisioned by the smoothbore flintlock musket-shooting founding fathers nearly 100 years earlier.
More importantly, they had experience, coolness under fire, and the free will of free men to defend the liberty they’d just won with so much of their own blood, and the blood of so many of their comrades. They drove off the Klansmen…
…all the way to the state capitol.
Where the Klansmen worked their deep political connections, and got America’s first post-war gun control bill passed, expressly to disarm black people. Because it’s hard to terrorize people who are shooting back at you.
The litigation over this intensely racist law and many others like it eventually led, in large part, to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment – the idea that laws must apply to all people, rather than being targeted at unfashionable groups. And it shows that, Carl Bogus’ blather notwithstanding, that it’s gun control that has its roots in slavery and racism.
If the American Second Amendment movement had a Catholic-style assembly of saints, Clayton Cramer would be in the inner circle. Thankfully, unlike the saints, Clayton is alive and well and writing up a storm. For most of a decade, he ran the “Armed Self Defense” blog, where he cataloged what the mainstream media wouldn’t; the many, daily cases of armed citizens foiling criminals with their legally-owned firearms. And long before that, and long before blogging, Cramer wrote what is one of the definitive online histories of gun control’s racist roots. It was true in colonial times…:
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.
…and after the Revolution…:
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.
…and after the Civil War:
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.  [emphasis added]
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.
The main goal of gun control has always been to disarm poor, brown-skinned people.
Today, on the official state observance of his 84th birthday, we need to acknowledge that Martin Luther King knew this well; while he preached non-violence, he and many other civil rights leaders knew that peace and safety were only as tenable as ones’ ability to defend them, as noted by Adam Winkler:
A recipient of constant death threats, King had armed supporters take turns guarding his home and family. He had good reason to fear that the Klan in Alabama was targeting him for assassination.
William Worthy, a journalist who covered the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, reported that once, during a visit to King’s parsonage, he went to sit down on an armchair in the living room and, to his surprise, almost sat on a loaded gun. Glenn Smiley, an adviser to King, described King’s home as “an arsenal.”
Winkler – a lib – noted that the racism endemic in gun control laws touched King, too (I’ve added emphasis):
As I found researching my new book, Gunfight, in 1956, after King’s house was bombed, King applied for a concealed carry permit in Alabama. The local police had discretion to determine who was a suitable person to carry firearms. King, a clergyman whose life was threatened daily, surely met the requirements of the law, but he was rejected nevertheless. At the time, the police used any wiggle room in the law to discriminate against African Americans.
And that “wiggle room” was enabled by gun control laws, including the “discretionary issue” carry laws that Alabama had, similar to the one Minnesota scrapped in 2003. Such laws, as Cramer noted in 1993, are still an instrument of racial prejudice…:
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.”
The claim that the Second Amendment abetted slavery hangs by a slender, fragile, discredited and in any case circumstantial thread (the same case can be made for every other part of the Bill of Rights – as can the roots of abolition). The case that gun control is racist stands on a solid granite plinth, soaked in 400 years of the blood of our less-fortunate dark-skinned neighbors…
…like the eight Sandy-Hook-sized classrooms full of mostly brown and black children killed in Chicago every year.
So today, on his (federally observed) birthday, we’ve gotta ask – what would Martin Luther King think?