The issue of local gun control laws is one that refuses to go away.
Last Thursday, the Jefferson County Commission considered a resolution “against gun violence” proposed by a Quaker group based in Shepherdstown. It included this quote from the Bible: “Thou shalt not kill.”
I share the Quakers’ desire to end violence and I ascribe to the 10 Commandments. However, “restrictions on sales of firearms,” as the resolution advocates, particularly on the local level, have a troubling history.
Professor Adam Winkler is a constitutional law professor at UCLA. He is not a gun rights activist, as is evidenced by an article he wrote in 2010 called “The Tea Party’s Gun Problem” that exposes his political leanings. However, he makes interesting observations in his book published the following year called “Gunfight – The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”
An article in the Wall Street Journal said, “In his research for ‘Gunfight,’ Winkler…noted a close intersection between guns and racism.” They quote Winkler: “It was a constant pressure among white racists to keep guns out of the hands of African-Americans … the KKK began as a gun control organization.”
Winkler has another interesting point to make. Writing in the Huffington Post on Martin Luther King Day two years ago he said this: “Most people think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the mid-1950s, as the civil rights movement heated up, King kept firearms for self-protection. In fact, he even applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.” The state of Alabama denied his request, never offering a reason. Winkler goes on to say: “Glenn Smiley, an adviser to King, described King’s home as ‘an arsenal.’”
In other words, preaching nonviolence and advocating for gun rights are not incompatible. I would hope that we all share Dr. King’s dream to end violence. However, depriving anyone of their civil rights is not the solution. The 14th Amendment ensures that the Second Amendment applies to everyone.
I find it oddly coincidental that cities with high relative percentages of blacks and Hispanics have the strictest local gun control laws. New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. come to mind. All three cities have enacted onerous gun control laws and all three have combined black and Hispanic populations well over 50 percent.
In New York City, there is a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s search and frisk policy. Over the last 10 years, nearly 5 million people have been stopped and frisked by the police looking for firearms. It turns out that 90 percent of the people stopped and frisked were black or Hispanic.
New York State Sen. Eric Adams, who is also a former police officer, testified that Police Commissioner Ed Kelley “targeted and focused on that group because he wanted to instill fear in them that every time that they left their homes they could be stopped by police.” If these allegations are true, this is an outrage of epic proportions. I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg is aware of this.
In West Virginia, Charleston is the local jurisdiction with the most gun restrictions. As it turns out, Charleston is the city in West Virginia that has the greatest percentage of residents that are minorities. What a coincidence.
At the Jefferson County Commission meeting last Thursday, the Quaker resolution was defeated 3 to 2. In the aftermath Commission President Dale Manuel expressed surprise at the public outcry in opposition to it. He asserted his support for universal background checks for gun purchasers.
Regarding background checks, according to NBC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued and settled with a “company [that] was using arrest records and convictions to deny job applicants positions. The EEOC suit charged that the practice impacted minority employees disproportionately and as a result was illegal under the nation’s labor laws. The EEOC acted in part because blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to get caught up in the legal system. Given current incarceration rates, about one in 17 white men are likely to serve time in prison during their lifetimes, compared with one in three African-American men, the agency said,”
In other words, the EEOC is saying that universal background checks discriminate against minorities and shouldn’t be allowed. If applied to gun purchasers, universal background checks are equally discriminatory.
Let me state categorically that I am not accusing anyone of being a racist. However, those that seek to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights need to rethink their position. They may not be racist, but they are not, shall I say, politically correct. We have a right to keep and bear arms, regardless of race, creed, gender or color.