The Politics of Bearing Arms

by on September 8, 2009 at 7:22 am in History | Permalink

Historian David Beito, writing at The Beacon, reminds us

The controversy about carrying guns in public is not new. In 1967, however, the political alignments on this issue were completely different. Many conservatives (and others) objected when the Black Panthers insisted on exercising this right. In response, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act banning the carrying of guns in public.

Black panthers_1968

Jim September 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

Reagan also signed the Brady Bill. He was for gun control, plain and simple.

Nice job trying to make him look racially motivated, though!

Vehical Driver September 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

Republicans believe non-whites should be disarmed powerless serfs.

Democrats believe everyone should be disarmed powerless serfs.

Neither Republicans, nor Democrats, are against gun control.

Vehical Driver September 8, 2009 at 10:24 am

Guns should be regulated like autos.

Speech should be regulated like autos too! Because automobile ownership should be the model for all human rights!

Don September 8, 2009 at 11:17 am

Recent occurrences have included white and black citizens carrying guns to punctuate their intensity of resolve to protect and defend what they rightly or wrongly perceive to be their inheritance of core freedoms and way of life.

Black Panthers in that era perhaps made the mistake of positioning their display as a part of asserting what they called a revolutionary act, that is, to change the existing order. Had they instead said the existing order was imperfect in that it was not applied equally among racial groups, and they were staking their claim to be included in the existing order rather than changing economic and political structures, perhaps their use of guns would have been seen in the colonial Minuteman tradition.

Instead, fear resulted, because wide-ranging revolution is less popular than defense of the existing order, or its extension to unfairly excluded groups.

Nigel September 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

>>Historian David Beito, writing at The Beacon, reminds us…the controversy about carrying guns in public is not new<<

And goes on to suggest that the solution is to get rid of public spaces.

I don’t think he’s a satirist, but it’s hard to tell.

songar September 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Jim: “Reagan also signed the Brady Bill. He was for gun control, plain and simple.” FYI, Clinton signed the bill in 1993.
So let’s take a step back from all of the deflections and fictions here.

The picture and the article were obviously presented to set up a contrast between how the conservative (as represented by Ronald Reagan–Mr.Conservative)interpretation of appropriate gun control seems to shift depending on what’s most convenient and best for them at the time.

The obvious, but unmentioned reference in the post is to the gun-toting-teapartiers and the conservative defense of such actions. If Ronnie were alive I bet he’d be on the opposite side of the issue from where he was in 1967.

Barkley Rosser September 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm

The biggest problem with having lots of guns around is not public displays, but the much higher
suicide rates closely associated with them, at least across states in the US. Of course this is
a hidden problem not involving public displays at all usually, unless we are talking about
somebody like Cho at Virginia Tech, whose suicide was preceded by a mass slaughter.

Doug September 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Joan,
How many of those deaths were shootings by police, self defense shootings, or military deaths?

JSIS,
Yes, but armed against hypothetical state tyranny that may happen in the future. People get really nervous when someone claims the tyranny is already here, and they’re arming to stop it.

Vehical Driver September 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm

We pay a high price for refusing to comprehensively regulate guns.

Where is this mythical place in America where guns aren’t comprehensively regulated? I would like to move there. Federal firearm legislation is pretty strict, and there is even a paramilitary government agency (A.T.F.) responsible for enforcing it.

Apart from the direct carnage, we alter all other aspects of our lives rather than deal with the issue itself. Metal detectors, security cameras and devices.

The only time I ever encounter metal detectors, security cameras, and such devices, is when I am in a “Gun Free Zone”.

Oh, and the gun confiscation zealots never explain how exactly they expect gun control to work better than the War on Drugs. If the government can spend billions, incarcerate millions, and eliminate any inconvenient civil liberties, to fight a war on drugs, and it is an utter and complete failure… well how do you plan to stop a black market in something guaranteed by the constitution, owned in half of American households, and who well over 80% of the people believe is a basic right?

Everyone knows that gun control as a crime deterrent won’t work. People want to ban guns because they have a radical agenda of government control (either left wing socialism or right wing nationalism, or some strange mix of two), and an armed citizenry is a counterbalance to government power. You got to make sure the counter-revolutionaries (or anti-Americans) are disarmed before you round them up and send them to re-education camps.

enoriverbend September 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Gun control has a long association with racism, of course. That’s natural given that gun control is usually instituted on behalf of the political masters, and against the politically powerless.

For example, Justice Buford’s concurring opinion in Watson v. Stone, 4 So.2d 700, 703 (Fla. 1941):

“I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”

Anthony September 8, 2009 at 6:07 pm

People get really nervous when someone claims the tyranny is already here, and they’re arming to stop it.

People get even more nervous when someone claims they’re arming to impose a different tyrrany, as did the Black Panthers.

Sigivald September 8, 2009 at 7:02 pm

John: As sbard said, autos operated on private property are essentially unregulated (in that you can not only drive them without a license or insurance, but you can even build your own to any specification you desire).

Autos also aren’t a Constitutional or basic human (self defense) right.

Requiring state permission to have them on public property would be a nuisance and a rights problem, but overall? Yeah, it might be a step up, actually.

Barkley: Was the black man carrying an AR outside of an Obama Town Hall racially motivated? If not, why is he exempt? If so, how do you figure?

Vehical Driver September 9, 2009 at 1:18 am

Or they just see that guns are dangerous and the fewer of them the safer we are.

Bacon cheeseburgers, backyard swimming pools, mushroom hunting, huffing glue, mountain climbing, and racing snowmobiles are also dangerous… but you don’t find a highly organized well-funded political movement to ban or control those things. Gun control obviously isn’t about the danger, because there are plenty of far more dangerous things that are entirely unregulated and uncontrolled.

It’s not always a big commie plot.

No, sometimes it is a right-wing fascist plot. But it is always a plot by authoritarians… people who want a government with radically more control over society. Gun control is undeniably about CONTROL. It is about taking power away from the people, and placing it in the hands of the police and military.

Gil September 9, 2009 at 7:01 am

How is gun-owning ‘constitutional’? The 2nd Amendment simply says the Federal Government can’t interfere with the State Militias. Far from the State Militias are for repelling and overthrowing the Federal Government, the State Miltias can be called up to suppress insurrections. In other words, the Federal Government can constituionally order the State Militia to fire upon U.S. citizens if they are causing a threat (like carry firearms in the streets of Washington D.C. threatening to enter the White House and shoot everybody inside, perhaps). Besides the 2nd Amendment refers to “bearing arms” so why can’t gun nuts get upset when they can’t get access to rocket launchers and grenades?

Seward September 9, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Gil,

My suggestion is that you read the volumes of research on the individual right position. Start here: http://www.law.ucla.edu/volokh/2amteach/SOURCES.HTM

I would also note that almost all of the states have an individual right to bear arms; so even if federal government did not protect such a right, almost all of the state governments do, many of them by state referenda (some of them of quite recent import).

techreseller September 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Just as I was afraid someone would assassinate Bush and make Cheney President, now I am afraid that someone will assassinate Obama and make Biden President. I do not think Obama is or will be a good president, but Biden! Give me a break.

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