How is GUN CONTROL racist? Examine it’s origins & purpose.

The Racist Origins of US Gun Control

Laws Designed To Disarm Slaves, Freedmen, And African-Americans

by Steve Ekwall

OVERVIEW

Before the Civil War ended, State “Slave Codes” prohibited slaves from owning guns. After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in image1863, and after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery was adopted and the Civil War ended in 1865, States persisted in prohibiting blacks, now freemen, from owning guns under laws renamed “Black Codes.” They did so on the basis that blacks were not citizens, and thus did not have the same rights, including the right to keep and bear arms protected in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as whites. This view was specifically articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in its infamous 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford to uphold slavery.

The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms. [Kates, “Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment,” 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204, 256 (1983)] However, facially neutral disarming through economic means laws remain in effect.

After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1878, most States turned to “facially neutral” business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia’s official university law review called for a “prohibitive tax…on the privilege” of selling handguns as a way of disarming “the son of Ham,” whose “cowardly practice of ‘toting’ guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime….

Let a negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights.” [Comment, Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92 (1909); George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (GMU CR LJ), Vol. 2, No. 1, “Gun Control and Racism,” Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75] Thus, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns so as to price blacks and poor whites out of the gun market.

In the 1990s, “gun control” laws continue to be enacted so as to have a racist effect if not intent:

  • Police-issued license and permit laws, unless drafted to require issuance to those not prohibited by law from owning guns, are routinely used to prevent lawful gun ownership among “unpopular” populations.
  • Public housing residents, approximately 3 million Americans, are singled out for gun bans.
  • “Gun sweeps” by police in “high crime neighborhoods” whereby vehicles and “pedestrians who meet a specific profile that might indicate they are carrying a weapon” are searched are becoming popular, and are being studied by the U.S. Department of Justice as “Operation Ceasefire.”

Sample Slave Codes, Black Codes, Economic-Based Gun Bans
Used To Prevent The Arming Of African Americans, 1640-1995

YEAR JURISDICTION   STATUTE
____ ____________   _______

1640 Virginia       Race-based total gun and self-defense ban.
                    "Prohibiting negroes, slave and free, from carrying
                    weapons including clubs." (The Los Angeles Times, "To
                    Fight Crime, Some Blacks Attack Gun Control," January
                    19, 1992)

1640 Virginia       Race-based total gun ban. "That all such free
                    Mulattoes, Negroes and Indians...shall appear without
                    arms." [7 The Statues at Large; Being a Collection of
                    all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of
                    the Legislature, in the Year 1619, p. 95 (W.W. Henning
                    ed. 1823).] (GMU CR LJ, p. 67)

1712 Virginia       Race-based total gun ban. "An Act for Preventing
                    Negroes Insurrections." (Henning, p. 481) (GMU CR LJ,
                    p. 70)

1712 South Carolina Race-based total gun ban. "An act for the better
                    ordering and governing of Negroes and slaves." [7
                    Statutes at Large of South Carolina, p. 353-54 (D.J.
                    McCord ed.  1836-1873).] (GMU CR LJ, p. 70)

1791 United States  2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified.
                    Reads:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to
                    the security of a free State, the right of the people
                    to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

1792 United States  Blacks excluded from the militia, i.e. law-abiding
                    males thus instilled with the right to own guns.
                    Uniform Militia Act of 1792 "called for the enrollment
                    of every free, able-bodied white male citizen between
                    the ages of eighteen and forty-five" to be in the
                    militia, and specified that every militia member was
                    to "provide himself with a musket or firelock, a
                    bayonet, and ammunition." [1 Stat. 271 (Georgetown Law
                    Journal, Vol. 80, No. 2, "The Second Amendment:
                    Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration," Robert
                    Cottrol and Raymond Diamond, 1991, p. 331)]

1806 Louisiana      Complete gun and self-defense ban for slaves. Black
                    Code, ch. 33, Sec. 19, Laws of La. 150, 160 (1806)
                    provided that a slave was denied the use of firearms
                    and all other offensive weapons. (GLJ, p. 337)

1811 Louisiana      Complete gun ban for slaves. Act of April 8, 1811, ch.
                    14, 1811 Laws of La. 50, 53-54, forbade sale or
                    delivery of firearms to slaves.  (Id.)

1819 South Carolina Master's permission required for gun possession by
                    slave. Act of Dec. 18, 1819, 1819 Acts of S.C. 28, 31,
                    prohibited slaves outside the company of whites or
                    without written permission from their master from
                    using or carrying firearms unless they were hunting or
                    guarding the master's plantation.  (Id.)

1825 Florida        Slave and free black homes searched for guns for
                    confiscation. "An Act to Govern Patrols," 1825 Acts of
                    Fla. 52, 55 - Section 8 provided that white citizen
                    patrols "shall enter into all negro houses and
                    suspected places, and search for arms and other
                    offensive or improper weapons, and may lawfully seize
                    and take away all such arms, weapons, and
                    ammunition...."  Section 9 provided that a slave might
                    carry a firearm under this statute either by means of
                    the weekly renewable license or if "in the presence of
                    some white person." (Id.)

1828 Florida        Free blacks permitted to carry guns if court approval.
                    Act of Nov. 17, 1828 Sec. 9, 1828 Fla. Laws 174, 177;
                    Act of Jan.  12, 1828, Sec. 9, 1827 Fla. Laws 97, 100
                    - Florida went back and forth on the question of
                    licenses for free blacks; twice in 1828, Florida
                    enacted provisions providing for free blacks to carry
                    and use firearms upon obtaining a license from a
                    justice of the peace. (Id.)

1831 Florida        Race-based total gun ban. Act of Jan. 1831, 1831 Fla.
                    Laws 30 - Florida repealed all provision for firearm
                    licenses for free blacks. (Id. p. 337-38)

1831 Delaware       Free blacks permitted to carry guns if court approval.
                    In the December 1831 legislative session, Delaware
                    required free blacks desiring to carry firearms to
                    obtain a license from a justice of the peace.
                    [(Herbert Aptheker, Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion, p.
                    74-75 (1966).] (GLJ, p. 338)

1831 Maryland       Race-based total gun ban. In the December 1831
                    legislative session, Maryland entirely prohibited free
                    blacks from carrying arms. (Aptheker, p. 75) (Id., p.
                    338)

1831 Virginia       Race-based total gun ban. In the December 1831
                    legislative session, Virginia entirely prohibited free
                    blacks from carrying arms. (Aptheker, p. 81) (Id., p.
                    338)

1833 Florida        Slave and free black homes searched for guns for
                    confiscation. Act of Feb. 17, 1833, ch. 671, Sec. 15,
                    17, 1833 Fla. Laws 26, 29 authorized white citizen
                    patrols to seize arms found in the homes of slaves and
                    free blacks, and provided that blacks without a proper
                    explanation for the presence of the firearms be
                    summarily punished, without benefit of a judicial
                    tribunal. (Id. p. 338)

1833 Georgia        Race-based total gun ban. Act of Dec. 23, 1833, Sec.
                    7, 1833 Ga. Laws 226, 228 declared that "it shall not
                    be lawful for any free person of colour in this state,
                    to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description
                    whatever." (Id.)

1840 Florida        Complete gun ban for slaves. Act of Feb. 25, 1840, no.
                    20, Sec. 1, 1840 Acts of Fla. 22-23 made sale or
                    delivery of firearms to slaves forbidden. (Id. p. 337)

1840 Texas          Complete gun ban for slaves. "An Act Concerning
                    Slaves," Sec. 6, 1840 Laws of Tex. 171, 172, ch.  58
                    of the Texas Acts of 1850 prohibited slaves from using
                    firearms altogether from 1842-1850. (Journal of
                    Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University,
                    Vol. 85, No. 3, "Gun Control and Economic
                    Discrimination:  The Melting-Point Case-In-Point," T.
                    Markus Funk, 1995, p. 797)

1844 North Carolina Race-based gun ban upheld because free blacks "not
                    citizens." In State v. Newsom, 27 N.C. 250 (1844), the
                    Supreme Court of North Carolina upheld a Slave Code
                    law prohibiting free blacks from carrying firearms on
                    the grounds that they were not citizens.  (GMU CR LJ,
                    p. 70)

1845 North Carolina Complete gun ban for slaves. Act of Jan. 1, 1845, ch.
                    87, Sec. 1, 2, 1845 Acts of N.C. 124 made sale or
                    delivery of firearms to slaves forbidden. (GLJ, p.
                    337)

1847 Florida        Slave and free black homes searched for guns for
                    confiscation. Act of Jan. 6, 1847, ch. 87 Sec. 11,
                    1846 Fla. Laws 42, 44 provided that white citizen
                    patrols might search the homes of blacks, both free
                    and slave and confiscate arms held therein. (Id. p.
                    338)

1848 Georgia        Race-based gun ban upheld because free blacks "not
                    citizens." In Cooper v. Savannah, 4 Ga. 68, 72 (1848),
                    the Georgia Supreme Court ruled "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." (GMU CR LJ,
                    p. 70)

1852 Mississippi    Race-based complete gun ban. Act of Mar. 15, 1852, ch.
                    206, 1852 Laws of Miss. 328 forbade ownership of
                    firearms by both free blacks and slaves.  (JCLC NWU,
                    p. 797)

1857 United States  High Court upholds slavery since blacks "not
                    citizens." In Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19
                    How.) 393 (1857), Chief Justice Taney argued if
                    members of the African race were "citizens" they would
                    be exempt from the special "police regulations"
                    applicable to them.  "It would give to persons of the
                    negro race...full liberty of speech...to hold public
                    meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry
                    arms wherever they went." (Id. p. 417) U.S. Supreme
                    Court held that descendants of Africans who were
                    imported into this country and sold as slaves were not
                    included nor intended to be included under the word
                    "citizens" in the Constitution, whether emancipated or
                    not, and remained without rights or privileges except
                    such as those which the government might grant them,
                    thereby upholding slavery.  Also held that a slave did
                    not become free when taken into a free state; that
                    Congress cannot bar slavery in any territory; and that
                    blacks could not be citizens.

1860 Georgia        Complete gun ban for slaves. Act of Dec. 19, 1860, no.
                    64, Sec. 1, 1860 Acts of Ga. 561 forbade sale or
                    delivery of firearms to slaves. (GLJ, p. 337)

1861 United States  Civil War begins.

1861 Florida        Slave and free black homes searched for guns for
                    confiscation. Act of Dec. 17, 1861, ch. 1291, Sec. 11,
                    1861 Fla. Laws 38, 40 provided once again that white
                    citizen patrols might search the homes of blacks, both
                    free and slave, and confiscate arms held therein. (Id.
                    p. 338)

1863 United States  Emancipation Proclamation -- President Lincoln issued
                    proclamation "freeing all slaves in areas still in
                    rebellion."

1865 Mississippi    Blacks require police approval to own guns, unless in
                    military. Mississippi Statute of 1865 prohibited
                    blacks, not in the military "and not licensed so to do
                    by the board of police of his or her county" from
                    keeping or carrying "fire-arms of any kind, or any
                    ammunition, dirk or bowie knife." [reprinted in 1
                    Documentary History of Reconstruction: Political,
                    Military, Social, Religious, Educational and
                    Industrial, 1865 to the Present Time, p. 291, (Walter
                    L. Fleming, ed., 1960.)] (GLJ, p.  344)

1865 Louisiana      Blacks require police and employer approval to own
                    guns, unless serving in military. Louisiana Statute of 1865
                    prohibited blacks, not in the military service, from
                    "carrying fire-arms, or any kind of weapons...without
                    the special permission of his employers, approved and
                    indorsed by the nearest and most convenient chief of
                    patrol." (Fleming, p. 280)(GLJ, p. 344)

1865 United States  Civil War ends May 26.

1865 United States  Slavery abolished as of Dec. 18, 1865. 13th
                    Amendment abolishing slavery was ratified. Reads:
                    "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
                    except as a punishment for crime whereof the party
                    shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the
                    United States, or in any place subject to their
                    jurisdiction.  Section 2.  Congress shall have power
                    to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

1866 Alabama        Race-based total gun ban. Black Code of Alabama in
                    January 1866 prohibited blacks to own or carry
                    firearms or other deadly weapons and prohibited "any
                    person to sell, give, or lend fire-arms or ammunition
                    of any description whatever" to any black. [The
                    Reconstruction Amendments' Debates, p. 209, (Alfred
                    Avins ed., 1967)] (GLJ, p. 345)

1866 North Carolina Rights of blacks can be changed by legislature. North
                    Carolina Black Code, ch. 40, 1866 N.C. Sess. Laws 99
                    stated "All persons of color who are now inhabitants
                    of this state shall be entitled to the same
                    privileges, and are subject to the same burdens and
                    disabilities, as by the laws of the state were
                    conferred on, or were attached to, free persons of
                    color, prior to the ordinance of emancipation, except
                    as the same may be changed by law." (Avins, p. 291.)
                    (GLJ, p. 344)

1866 United States  Civil Rights Act of 1866 enacted. CRA of 1866 did away
                    with badges of slavery embodied in the "Black Codes,"
                    including those provisions which "prohibit any negro
                    or mulatto from having fire-arms." [CONG. GLOBE, 39th
                    Congress, 1st Session, pt. 1, 474 (29 Jan. 1866)]
                    Senator William Saulsbury (D- Del) added "In my State
                    for many years...there has existed a law...which
                    declares that free negroes shall not have the
                    possession of firearms or ammunition.  This bill
                    proposes to take away from the States this police
                    power..." and thus voted against the bill.  CRA of
                    1866 was a precursor to today's 42 USC Sec.1982, a
                    portion of which still reads:  "All citizens of the
                    United States shall have the same right, in every
                    state and territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens
                    thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and
                    convey real and personal property."

1866 United States  Proposed 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution debated.
                    Opponents of the 14th Amendment objected to its
                    adoption because they opposed federal enforcement of
                    the freedoms in the bill of rights.  Sen. Thomas A.
                    Hendricks (D-Ind.) said "if this amendment be
                    adopted we will then carry the title [of citizenship]
                    and enjoy its advantages in common with the negroes,
                    the coolies, and the Indians." [CONG. GLOBE, 39th
                    Congress, 1st Session, pt. 3, 2939 (4 June 1866)].
                    Sen. Reverdy Johnson, counsel for the slave owner
                    in Dred Scott, opposed the amendment because "it is
                    quite objectionable to provide that 'no State shall
                    make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
                    privileges and immunities of citizens of the United
                    States'." Thus, the 14th Amendment was viewed as
                    necessary to buttress the Civil Rights Act of 1866,
                    especially since the act "is pronounced void by the
                    jurists and courts of the South," e.g. Florida has as
                    "a misdemeanor for colored men to carry weapons...and
                    the punishment...is whipping..." [CONG GLOBE, 39th
                    Con., 1st Session, 504, pt. 4, 3210 (16 June 1866)].

1866 United States  Klu Klux Klan formed. Purpose was to terrorize blacks
                    who voted; temporarily disbanded in 1871;
                    reestablished in 1915.  In debating what would become
                    42 USC Sec. 1983, today's federal civil rights
                    statute, Representative Butler explained "This
                    provision seemed to your committee to be necessary,
                    because they had observed that, before these midnight
                    marauders [the KKK] made attacks upon peaceful
                    citizens, there were very many instances in the South
                    where the sheriff of the county had preceded them and
                    taken away the arms of their victims.  This was
                    especially noticeable in Union County, where all the
                    negro population were disarmed by the sheriff only a
                    few months ago under the order of the judge...; and
                    then, the sheriff having disarmed the citizens, the
                    five hundred masked men rode at nights and murdered
                    and otherwise maltreated the ten persons who were in
                    jail in that county." [1464 H.R. REP. No. 37, 41st
                    Cong., 3rd Sess. p. 7-8 (20 Feb.  1871)]

1867 United States  The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of
                    1867. Report noted with particular emphasis that under
                    the Black Codes, blacks were "forbidden to own or bear
                    firearms, and thus were rendered defenseless against
                    assaults." (Reprinted in H. Hyman, The Radical
                    Republicans and Reconstruction, p. 219, 1967.) (GMU CR
                    LJ, p. 71)

1868 United States  14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution adopted,
                    conveying citizenship to blacks. Reads, in part:
                    "Section 1.  All persons born or naturalized in the
                    United States, and subject to the jurisdiction
                    thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
                    State wherein they reside.  No state shall make or
                    enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or
                    immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall
                    any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or
                    property, without due process of law; nor deny to any
                    person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of
                    the laws.
                    "Section 5.  The Congress shall have power to enforce,
                    by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this
                    article."

1870 Tennessee      First "Saturday Night Special" economic handgun ban
                    passed. In the first legislative session in which they
                    gained control, white supremacists passed "An Act to
                    Preserve the Peace and Prevent Homicide," which banned
                    the sale of all handguns except the expensive "Army
                    and Navy model handgun" which whites already owned or
                    could afford to buy, and blacks could not. ("Gun
                    Control:  White Man's Law," William R. Tonso, Reason,
                    December 1985) Upheld in Andrews v. State, 50 Tenn. (3
                    Heisk.) 165, 172 (1871) (GMU CR LJ, p. 74) "The cheap
                    revolvers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
                    were referred to as 'Suicide Specials,' the 'Saturday
                    Night Special' label not becoming widespread until
                    reformers and politicians took up the gun control
                    cause during the 1960s.  The source of this recent
                    concern about cheap revolvers, as their new label
                    suggest, has much in common with the concerns of the
                    gun-law initiators of the post-Civil War South.  As B.
                    Bruce-Briggs has written in the Public Interest, `It
                    is difficult to escape the conclusion that the
                    'Saturday Night Special' is emphasized because it is
                    cheap and being sold to a particular class of people.
                    The name is sufficient evidence -- the reference is to
                    'niggertown Saturday night.'" ("Gun Control:  White
                    Man's Law," William R. Tonso, Reason, December 1985)

1871 United States  Anti-KKK Bill debated in response to race-motivated
                    violence in South. A report on violence in the South
                    resulted in an anti-KKK bill that stated "That whoever
                    shall, without due process of law, by violence,
                    intimidation, or threats, take away or deprive any
                    citizen of the United States of any arms or weapons he
                    may have in his house or possession for the defense of
                    his person, family, or property, shall be deemed
                    guilty of a larceny thereof, and be punished as
                    provided in this act for a felony." [1464 H.R. REP.
                    No. 37, 41st Cong., 3rd Sess. p. 7-8 (20 Feb. 1871)].
                    Since Congress doesn't have jurisdiction over simple
                    larceny, the language was removed from the anti-KKK
                    bill, but this section survives today as 42 USC Sec.
                    1983:  "That any person who, under color of any
                    law,...of any State, shall subject, or cause to be
                    subjected, any person... to the deprivation of any
                    rights, privileges, or immunities to which...he is
                    entitled under the Constitution...shall be liable...in
                    any action at law...for redress...".

1875 United States  High Court rules has no power to stop KKK members from
                    disarming blacks. In United States v. Cruikshank, 92
                    U.S. at 548-59 (1875) A member of the KKK, Cruikshank
                    had been charged with violating the rights of two
                    black men to peaceably assemble and to bear arms.  The
                    U.S.  Supreme Court held that the federal government
                    had no power to protect citizens against private
                    action (not committed by federal or state government
                    authorities) that deprived them of their
                    constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.  The
                    Court held that for protection against private
                    criminal action, individuals are required to look to
                    state governments. "The doctrine in Cruikshank, that
                    blacks would have to look to state government for
                    protection against criminal conspiracies gave the
                    green light to private forces, often with the
                    assistance of state and local governments, that sought
                    to subjugate the former slaves and their
                    descendants... With the protective arm of the federal
                    government withdrawn, protection of black lives and
                    property was left to largely hostile state
                    governments." (GLJ, p. 348.)

1879 Tennessee      Second "Saturday Night Special" economic handgun ban
                    passed. Tennessee revamped its economic handgun ban
                    nine years later, passing "An Act to Prevent the Sale
                    of Pistols," which was upheld in State v. Burgoyne, 75
                    Tenn. 173, 174 (1881). (GMU CR LJ, p. 74)

1882 Arkansas       Third "Saturday Night Special" economic handgun ban
                    passed. Arkansas followed Tennessee's lead by enacting
                    a virtually identical "Saturday Night Special" law
                    banning the sale of any pistols other than expensive
                    "army or navy" model revolvers, which most whites had
                    or could afford, thereby disarming blacks.  Statute
                    was upheld in Dabbs v. State, 39 Ark. 353 (1882) (GMU
                    CR LJ, p. 74)

1893 Alabama        First all-gun economic ban passed. Alabama placed
                    "'extremely heavy business and/or transactional
                    taxes'" on the sale of handguns in an attempt "to put
                    handguns out of the reach of blacks and poor whites."
                    ("Gun Control:  White Man's Law," William R. Tonso,
                    Reason, December 1985)

1902 South Carolina First total civilian handgun ban. The state banned all
                    pistol sales except to sheriffs and their special
                    deputies, which included the KKK and company
                    strongmen.  (Kates, "Toward a History of Handgun
                    Prohibition in the United States" in Restricting
                    Handguns:  The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, p. 15,
                    1979.) (GMU CR LJ, p. 76)

1906 Mississippi    Race-based confiscation through record-keeping.
                    Mississippi enacted the first registration law for
                    retailers in 1906, requiring them to maintain records
                    of all pistol and pistol ammunition sales, and to make
                    such records available for inspection on demand.
                    (Kates, p. 14) (GMU CR LJ, p. 75)

1907 Texas          Fourth "Saturday Night Special" economic handgun ban.
                    Placed "'extremely heavy business and/or transactional
                    taxes'" on the sale of handguns in an attempt "to put
                    handguns out of the reach of blacks and poor whites."
                    ("Gun Control:  White Man's Law," William R. Tonso,
                    Reason, December 1985)

1911 New York       Police choose who can own guns lawfully. "Sullivan
                    Law" enacted, requiring police permission, via a
                    permit issued at their discretion, to own a handgun.
                    Unpopular minorities were and are routinely denied
                    permits. ("Gun Control:  White Man's Law," William R.
                    Tonso, Reason, December 1985) "(T)here are only about
                    3,000 permits in New York City, and 25,000 carry
                    permits.  If you're a street-corner grocer in
                    Manhattan, good luck getting a gun permit.  But among
                    those who have been able to wrangle a precious carry
                    permit out of the city's bureaucracy are Donald Trump,
                    Arthur Ochs Sulzburger, William Buckley, Jr., and
                    David, John, Lawrence and Winthrop Rockefeller.
                    Surprise." (Terrance Moran, "Racism and the Firearms
                    Firestorm," Legal Times)

1934 United States  Gun Control Act of 1934 (National Firearms Act)
                    passed.

1941 Florida        Judge admits gun law passed to disarm black laborers.
                    In concurring opinion narrowly construing a Florida
                    gun control law passed in 1893, Justice Buford stated
                    the 1893 law "was passed when there was a great influx
                    of negro laborers in this State....The same condition
                    existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act
                    was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro
                    laborers....The statute was never intended to be
                    applied to the white population and in practice has
                    never been so applied...".  Watson v. Stone, 148 Fla.
                    516, 524, 4 So.2d 700, 703 (1941) (GMU CR LJ, p. 69)

The Following Historical Events Are Included as Context

for Passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

1954 – U.S. Supreme Court held racial segregation of schools violates 14th Amendment.

1955 – Alabama bus segregation ordinance held unconstitutional after boycott and NAACP protest.

1956 – Massive resistance to Supreme Court desegregation ruling called for by 101 Southern congressmen.

1957 – Congress approved first civil rights law for blacks. Governor ordered National Guard troops to prevent nine blacks from entering all-white high school in Little Rock; President Eisenhower had to send federal military troops to enforce court order that Guardsman be removed.

1960 – Sit-ins began February 1 when four black college students in Greensboro, N.C., refused to move from a lunch counter after being denied service; by 1961, more than 700,000 students, black and white, had participated in sit-ins.

1962 – 3,000 troops were required to quell riots after University of Mississippi accepted first black student.

1963 – 200,000 people participated in March on Washington, at which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy assassinated in November.

1964 – Omnibus civil rights bill barring discrimination in voting, jobs, discrimination, etc.; three civil rights workers reported missing in Mississippi, found buried two months later, 21 white men arrested, seven of whom an all-white federal court jury convicted of conspiracy only.

1965 – 34 dead in race riot in Watts area of Los Angeles.

1966 – First black U.S. senator in 85 years elected (Edward Brook, R-MA)

1967 – Race riots in Newark, N.J., kill 26, injure 1,500, with over 1,000 arrested. Race riots in Detroit killed at least 40, injured 2,000 and left 5,000 homeless; was quelled by 4,700 federal paratroopers and 8,000 National Guardsmen. Thurgood Marshall sworn in Oct. 2 as first black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1968 – Martin Luther King assassinated in April. Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in June.


1968 United States  Gun Control Act of 1968 passed. Avowed anti-gun
                    journalist Robert Sherrill frankly admitted that the
                    Gun Control Act of 1968 was "passed not to control
                    guns but to control Blacks." [R. Sherrill, The
                    Saturday Night Special, p. 280 (1972).] (GMU CR LJ, p.
                    80) "The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed not to
                    control guns but to control blacks, and inasmuch as a
                    majority of Congress did not want to do the former but
                    were ashamed to show that their goal was the latter,
                    the result was they did neither.  Indeed, this law,
                    the first gun-control law passed by Congress in thirty
                    years, was one of the grand jokes of our time.  First
                    of all, bear in mind that it was not passed in one
                    piece but was a combination of two laws.  The original
                    1968 Act was passed to control handguns after the Rev.
                    Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated with a
                    rifle.  Then it was repealed and repassed to include
                    the control of rifles and shotguns after the
                    assassination of Robert F. Kennedy with a
                    handgun.... The moralists of our federal legislature
                    as well as sentimental editorial writers insist that
                    the Act of 1968 was a kind of memorial to King and
                    Robert Kennedy.  If so, it was certainly a weird
                    memorial, as can be seen not merely by the
                    handgun/long-gun shellgame, but from the
                    inapplicability of the law to their deaths." (The
                    Saturday Night Special and Other Guns, Robert
                    Sherrill, p.  280, 1972)

1988 Maryland       Fifth "Saturday Night Special" economic handgun ban
                    passes. Ban on "Saturday Night Specials," i.e.
                    inexpensive handguns, passes.

1988 Illinois       Poor citizens singled out for gun ban in Illinois.
                    Starting in late 1988, the Chicago Housing Authority
                    (CHA) and the Chicago Police Dept. (CPD) enacted and
                    enforced an official policy, Operation Clean Sweep,
                    which applied to all housing units owned and operated
                    by the CHA.  The purpose was the confiscation of
                    firearms and illegal narcotics and consisted of
                    warrantless searches and of a visitor exclusion policy
                    severely limiting the right of CHA tenants to
                    associate in their residences with family members and
                    other guests, tenants had to sign in and out of the
                    building, producing to the police or CHA officials
                    photo Id.  Relatives, including children and
                    grandchildren, were not allowed to stay over, even on
                    holidays.  CHA tenants who objected or attempted to
                    interfere with these warrantless searches were
                    arrested.  The ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking
                    declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of the CHA
                    tenants against the enforcement of Operation Clean
                    Sweep.  The complaint was filed in the United Sates
                    District Court for the Northern District of Illinois,
                    Eastern Division, on Dec. 16, 1988, as Case No.
                    88C10566 and is styled as Rose Summeries, et al. v.
                    Chicago Housing Authority, et al.  A consent decree
                    was entered on Nov. 30, 1989 in which the CHA and
                    CPD agreed to abide by certain standards and in which
                    the scope and purposes of such "emergency housing
                    inspections" were limited.  (GMU, p. 98)

1990 Virginia       Poor citizens singled out for gun ban in Virginia.
                    U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
                    Virginia upheld a ban imposed by the Richmond Housing
                    Authority on the possession of all firearms, whether
                    operable or not, in public housing projects.  The
                    Richmond Tenants Organization had challenged the ban,
                    arguing that such requirement had made the city's
                    14,000 public housing residents second-class citizens.
                    [Richmond Tenants Org. v. Richmond Dev. & Hous. Auth.,
                    No. C.A. 3:90CV00576 (E.D.Va. Dec. 3, 1990).] (GMU,
                    p. 97)

1994 United States  President seeks to single out all poor citizens
                    residing in federal housing for gun ban. The Clinton
                    Administration introduced H.R. 3838 in 1994 to ban
                    guns in federal public housing, but the House Banking
                    Committee rejected it.  Similar legislation was filed
                    in 1994 in the Oregon and Washington state
                    legislatures.

1995 Maine          Poor citizens singled out for gun ban in Maine.
                    Portland, ME, gun ban in public housing struck down on
                    April 5, 1995.

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