Display of a black leather jacket, black beret and shotgun behind glass. The items belonged to a member of the black panthers. There are buttons that say "Free Huey," "Free Bobby" and "cleaver for president" and one with a photo of Huey P. Newton

A Forgotten Legacy: The Role of the Second Amendment in Black History

Display of a black leather jacket, black beret and shotgun behind glass. The items belonged to a member of the black panthers. There are buttons that say "Free Huey," "Free Bobby" and "cleaver for president" and one with a photo of Huey P. Newton
(“Black Panther’s jacket, buttons, beret and shotgun” by Bill Abbott / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

By Craig J. DeLuz | California Black Media

The streets of America, once shrouded in shadows, are filled with the flicker of hope as Black History Month comes upon us. A time to reflect on the struggles and successes of African Americans in this great nation. But amongst the celebrations and festivities, there is one crucial aspect that often remains shrouded in the darkness of ignorance.

The Second Amendment.

It’s a delicate topic, one that is often swept under the rug and avoided during this time of year. But let’s not forget the role that this amendment has played in securing the rights and liberties of not just African Americans, but all Americans. From the Civil War through the civil rights movement and even until today, the Second Amendment has been a powerful tool in the hands of those who have fought for justice and equality.

But unfortunately, as with most things in Black history, this topic has been silenced and overshadowed. The harsh reality is that laws were put in place to keep slaves and freed Black men from obtaining firearms. And even after the Civil War, many states passed what’s known as Black Codes, intentionally designed to restrict African Americans from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

These laws, coupled with the growing violence against African Americans, gave birth to an unlikely ally in the fight for civil rights: the NRA. Yes, you heard that right. The National Rifle Association, often portrayed as a white, racist organization, was founded by three union officers who fought for the end of slavery and the civil rights of African Americans. They recognized the need for individuals to defend themselves against the tyranny and violence of the Ku Klux Klan, as the government was not doing enough to protect them.

But as with most things that go against the status quo, there were those who were not pleased. And thus, the gun control movement was born. But make no mistake, it was not about protecting people or reducing violence. It was about keeping guns out of the hands of African Americans.

The Black Panthers, a civil rights group, understood this all too well. In the late 1960s, they called upon the American people to take note of the racist California legislature that was passing laws specifically aimed at disarming Black citizens. And just like the KKK, the inspiration for these laws came from an unlikely source: Nazi Germany. The language used in these laws was almost identical to that of the Nazi regime, showing the true intentions behind gun control.

But for some, history seems to repeat itself endlessly. As we see yet again with the rise of hate groups and acts of violence against innocent citizens, the importance of the Second Amendment cannot be understated. It was created to prevent a new government from slipping back into tyranny and to allow individuals to protect what is theirs from any threats.

And yet, even in modern times, there are those who continue to deny African Americans their Second Amendment rights. As prominent lawyer and gun rights commentator Colion Noir stated, “Dr. King would look at me with a bit of confusion as he happily struggled with me…that I, a young Black male living in the heart of the South, whose house was never firebombed and has never received death threats, was granted a concealed handgun license. Yet he who had encountered all of these things was denied.”

It’s time to shed light on the role of the Second Amendment in Black history. To educate ourselves and others on the importance of this amendment in securing not just civil rights, but all rights. Let us not be afraid to speak out and defend the Second Amendment, for it is the one that defends all others. And let us never forget the words of one man who truly understood the power of this amendment: “When you touch the Second Amendment, you can’t become more anti-American, because America would not be without her guns.” – William Owens, President / Founder at America’s Altar.

About the Author

Craig J. DeLuz has almost 30 years in public policy and advocacy. He is currently president of the Robla School District Board of Trustees where he has served for almost 20 years. Learn more at CraigDeLuz.com or follow him on X at @CraigDeLuz.

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