Last week I reviewed a book by Professor Carol Anderson on how the 2nd Amendment has been used to discriminate against Blacks and helps maintain systemic racism, her book being a contribution to critical race theory (CRT) which has generated controversy on both sides of the current political debate.

              In last week’s review, I paid most of my attention to Professor Anderson’s analysis of how and why the 2nd Amendment was inserted into the Bill of Rights. In today’s column I want to look at how Anderson frames an argument about what the 2nd Amendment means to Black Americans today.

              Anderson cites two examples of how racism has been used in the contemporary period to define gun ‘rights’ – California’s  Mulford Law which prohibited carrying guns in public and was signed by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967, and the Federal Gun Control Act which created the national regulatory system for guns which was signed by then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1968.  Both laws which, according to Anderson’s interpretation of CRT, were designed to protect America from violence committed by Blacks.

              The Mulford Law was passed in California after the Black Panthers showed up at the State Capitol, carrying rifles, to protest police brutality and lack of effective policing, particularly in Oakland and Black neighborhoods in L.A. Anderson is absolutely correct in pointing out that much of the political rhetoric and posturing which accompanied Mulford Law was not-so-thinly-veiled messaging about how Whites needed to protect themselves from crime and violence committed by Blacks.

              Anderson basically makes the same argument about the political and racial context surrounding the debates and ultimate passage of GCA68, quoting Michael Waldman’s judgement that the law was defining gun ownership as a “white prerogative” because the categories which defined unlawful behavior, lumped under the rubric of ‘dangerous people,’ tended to be behaviors that allegedly occurred much more frequently among Blacks than among Whites.

              It was in the aftermath of GCA68, however, that gun regulations began to clearly show a racist slant. I am referring to the spread of concealed-carry permits (CCW) which were issued in only 9 states without any kind of police discretion as late as 1986. As of this year, there are now only 8 states where the cops can deny a CCW application without cause, and every one of those states happens to have large, inner-city Black neighborhoods where it is simply understood that Blacks don’t need to waste time trying to get a CCW license because it won’t be issued, whether they meet the legal qualifications or not.

              States like California, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland,  Massachusetts Rhode Island – have cities with high levels of gun violence but are also cities where the cops don’t want anyone to own a legal gun. Want to protect yourself by carrying a legal gun when you walk down the street? Move to Wichita, KS or Des Moines, IA. Blacks can get licensed for CCW in those cities, no questions asked.

              The fact that Anderson could write an entire book to show how the 2nd Amendment has been used to discriminate against Blacks and never seem to be aware of the racial differential in issuance of CCW licenses tells me that her understanding of guns, gun laws and CRT represents nothing more than an ability to go on the internet and do a bibliographical search. Another expert writing about gun violence who wouldn’t know one end of a gun from the other end.

              But here’s the real problem with thinking about gun violence within the context of CRT. Would it be better if the laws on gun ownership and gun access were completely color-blind, thus making it easier for Blacks to buy and own guns? Isn’t it bad enough right now that a White guy can walk into a gun shop, buy a Glock 17 with 5 extra hi-cap mags, and walk around town with the gun just because he passed a two-minute background check?

              Want to get rid of the systemic racism that defines how we try to control the ownership and use of guns? Why don’t we make everyone equal and simply say that nobody can own guns?

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