Leonard Pitts Jr.: The right to bear arms does not extend to Black people

Leonard Pitts Jr.: The right to bear arms does not extend to Black people

Conservatives have a special purgatory for uppity Black women who dare question America’s founding myths. New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones – her Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” centralized slavery in America’s origin story, a heresy that inspired laws banning her work from classrooms – now lives there. And she’s about to have company. In her new book, “The Second,” Emory University history professor Carol Anderson takes on an even more sacred cow: guns. She argues that the Second Amendment – which supposedly came about solely as a hedge against tyranny – had at its heart a much less noble concern: Southern states demanded the right to bear arms because they feared rebellions by enslaved Africans. All that talk about “a well-regulated militia?” Anderson told me in a telephone interview that that was just the cover story. State militias had not performed well either in fighting off the British or in defending against a domestic uprising: Shays’ Rebellion. “What the militia was really good at, however, was putting down slave revolts.” So the South held America hostage. It refused to join the new nation unless it was guaranteed the right to keep its guns. Not that this was the region’s only demand. Ultimately, the Constitution contained several clauses protecting slavery and slave owners. It was to be a recurring theme. From the Founders in 1787 to today’s refusal to enact needed voting-rights reform because of so-called bipartisanship, protecting Black people’s humanity has always come in second to other concerns deemed […]

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