Social justice movements have taken the country by storm. From woke math to segregated healthcare, there doesn’t seem to be any aspect of American life that hasn’t been inundated by the insanity of identity politics. Is it any wonder then that the race warriors have come for the Second Amendment?
Carol Anderson is the chair of the African American Studies department at Emory University in Georgia. In her newest book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, the author charges that the right to bear arms was created to keep black people oppressed.
As an example, Anderson said the right for each citizen to keep and bear arms for the sake of the well-regulated militia was not a matter of fighting against foreign armies. It was, she claimed, for the purpose of dealing with potential slave revolts. She told CNN that the Second Amendment is “a bribe placed on Black bodies.” Explaining what she meant by bribes, Anderson clarified:
“The crafting of the Constitution was of primary concern for folks like James Madison because the Articles of Confederation were not working. And when they went to the Constitutional Convention, the Southern delegates made it really clear that they weren’t going to sign off on any kind of Constitution to strengthen the United States of America unless they could get the clear extension on the Atlantic slave trade, the Three-Fifths Clause so they could get more representation than they were due in Congress, and the Fugitive Slave Clause. Those were the bribes. That was the sign-off for the South to sign off on the Constitution.”
Protecting the militia is protecting slavery, the author declared, then added:
“One of the things that many previous historians have not linked up was the role of the militia in putting down slave revolts, in buttressing slave patrols and keeping enslaved Black people, and free Blacks, under the boot of White supremacy.”
A Little History on the Second Amendment
The right to bear arms is not entirely an American creation; the concept has been around for millennia. According to Britannica, “[t]he origins of the Second Amendment can be traced to ancient Roman and Florentine times.” However, “its English origins developed in the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I instated a national militia in which individuals of all classes were required by law to take part to defend the realm.” The Founding Fathers had all this history to draw upon and used it to draft a Second Amendment that enshrined the right of the people to protect themselves and their property – and, yes, their state. Were militias ever tasked with putting down slave revolts? Yes. Does that mean the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to black people? Absolutely not.
Who Are Buying Guns Now?
The pandemic has significantly changed life worldwide, and there’s little doubt it has contributed to the increase in gun sales here in the U.S. More than 23 million new guns were sold in 2020 – a 60% increase from 2019. But that is only part of the equation. For the past 12 months, Americans have watched violence soar while Democrats seek even more restrictive gun laws. Fear and the desire to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s home have also been motivating factors. Around 20% of people who bought firearms last year were first-time buyers, and half of those were women. According to Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center data, about one-fifth of new buyers were black and another fifth Hispanic.
Ms. Anderson suggests the Second Amendment was created to keep blacks under control because the whites were afraid they would revolt against them. CNN posed the question: “As more Black people embrace the Second Amendment, will they discover that it applies equally to them?” The author used the Capitol Riot from Jan. 6 to make her point, saying “the insurrection” would have gone a lot differently “if those had been Black folk.”
However, Anderson’s claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny after the nation survived a year of violent BLM and Antifa protests, resulting in death and destruction across the country. Instead of allowing then-President Donald Trump to send in the national guard to help establish peace during the riots, many local elected officials refused the offer. The mayor of Seattle even went so far as to call the seizure of city blocks an atmosphere akin to “the summer of love.”
Was the oppression of black people a factor for the Founders when the Second Amendment was written? It is possible – the times and what was considered socially acceptable were different. However, that was certainly not the primary reason – and that isn’t what it stands for today. The right to protect oneself against violent crimes or a tyrannical government was the core motivation. That right to life and liberty is not limited by the color of a person’s skin.