Guns, Slavery, and Lessons from History



NOTE: Attention is drawn to the award-winning JPFO film "No Guns for Negroes", which can be viewed at the end of the article. Get your own DVD from the JPFO Store for just $9.95 incl.

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By Rick Ward, September 21st, 2013
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We were once a society of white supremacists, especially with regards to carrying guns. Even when blacks were given their freedom and then the right to vote, they were not given the right to carry or even own a gun. The government tried, back then, as they are trying now, to tax guns out of ownership.

According to an article on, a 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, Vol. 2, No. 1, "Gun Control and Racism," Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75] Thus, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns to price blacks and poor whites out of the gun market.

Prior to the Civil War in 1852 Mississippi passed a race-based complete gun ban. The Act of March 15, 1852, ch. 206, 1852 Laws of Miss. 328 forbade ownership of firearms by both free blacks and slaves. (JCLC NWU, p. 797) For many years even with what appeared to be a total rights award, blacks were still not given the right of self-defense. Those who were brought into this country for the purpose of slavery were not even considered "citizens" according to the Dred Scott Decision of 1857. The law only allowed citizens to protect themselves.

Even at the end of the Civil War, blacks required police approval to own guns, unless they were in the military. A Mississippi Statute of 1865 prohibited blacks, not in the military and not licensed 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)

Blacks gained (by law) much of their freedoms after the Civil War as long as the federal troops occupied the southern states. They not only voted, but held office. Mississippi had the first black US Senator and a black representative following the Civil War. (It would be 85 years before another black Senator was elected, this time in Massachusetts, then one more in Illinois) However with the Presidential race of 1876 Tilden tied with Rutherford B. Hayes. The tie could not even be broken by Congress, a deal made in the back room of an all-black hotel in Washington, DC in early 1877, known as Compromise of 1877, led to the one vote for Hayes he needed to secure the Presidency, with the understanding that all federal troops would be permanently removed from the South and the President would never again interfere with our affairs.

Black citizens were devastated. No more would there be armed troops to guard the polls. The Ku Klux Clan, White Shirts, Red Shirts and other splinter groups rose again. Blacks were bullied, beaten and their families killed if they showed up at the polls. They were lynched in front of spectators who often dressed up for the event, took their children and cut souvenir fingers and such from the bodies as trophies.

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. It was seen as race-based confiscation through record-keeping. (Kates, p. 14) (GMU CR LJ, p. 75). The registration requirement was repealed only a few years ago.

That deal set by the Compromise of 1877 remained in effect almost 100 years until the Kennedy administration. Kennedy guaranteed blacks protection by the US Marshals Service and National Guard. Northern sympathizers came down and assisted blacks in registering to vote and summoned the FBI to help make sure they were protected at the polls and beyond. He sent 3,000 troops to quell the riots at Ole Miss when James Merrideth applied. That was the early, to mid 1960's.

In the last one hundred years, because of their insistence to exercise their rights, blacks have led the nation in banding together on all topics that affect their rights. Their right to live peacefully and survive in a predominantly white society without violence directed at them by a white race has been at the forefront of their demands. They have made more gains than any other race.

It is a fact that most prison majorities are black. Many are in jail for gun-related crimes. We don't hear much about the black community wanting to carry arms. That surprises me on one hand because I would think with all the black-on-black violence they would want to protect themselves. Maybe it's the fact that they have faced so much gun violence all these years, the law abiders see guns as the problem. Maybe it is just public opinion. Could they be thinking if they are seen wearing a gun openly, the deep rooted feelings of a white dominated society might attack them at the sight of a weapon?

I have taught over 1,400 students for Enhanced Endorsements and I welcome anybody to my classes. So far the number of blacks I have taught can be counted on my hands with fingers left over. I don't know why the disparity in numbers. What I do know is that we have a lot to learn from the black community. If we were one fourth as insistent about exercising our right to openly carry firearms as they are with their right to vote, we would all be carrying guns openly.

Recently a Tupelo lawyer asked for a thousand e-mails to support an Amicus Brief in our Supreme Court. I sent the request out to the primary gun owners' site in the state. It gets hundreds of responses, if not thousands a day. With some 6,000 members, we were only able to get a little over 400 people to just click on a link showing they supported the issue.

We fought so hard to get this right to carry openly and now nobody is doing it. I fear that we will lose that right that we don't use it. Can you imagine blacks not exercising their right to vote? Where would they be right now? We are all Americans and need to come together to demonstrate to everybody that we have the right to openly carry and won't be intimidated by funny looks from people in the public any more than blacks are were at the polls.


Note from the Editor:
Below is a video that I've added to this article. After watching this video every citizen and especially every black American citizen should understand why this issue is so important. It is almost impossible to enslave an armed society. Every black adult citizen should arm themselves to demonstrate to our local politicians that they refuse to be controlled again.

About the author
Rick Ward is a retired law enforcement officer with 14 years in civilian law enforcement in Mississippi and 20 years in the military as a Physical Security, Law Enforcement and Force Protection Officer. He retired in 2006 as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. He is a graduate of the Mississippi Police Academy, Army MP School and FBI National Academy. Rick has a Masters' Degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. He has written several books and scores of articles and is a regular blogger, Second Amendment advocate and political activist for Mississippi gun laws. He has trained more than 1400 students for the enhanced carry permit endorsement in 121 classes since April 2012. He has been a firearms instructor since 1986 and has been shot in the line of duty.

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