By Larry Keane
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) needs to change their name. At this point, it’s false advertising.
The ACLU recently argued that, “anti-Blackness determined the inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and has informed the unequal and racist application of gun laws.” That’s plainly arguing that the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights as a tool of racist control of slaves. The posting by communications intern Ines Santos was an introduction to a podcast that included opinions from several professors who wholeheartedly agree the Second Amendment is racist and is a tool to deny civil rights to African-Americans.
It’s clear the ACLU is a shadow of its former self. It’s not the bastion to protect God-given liberties, but to drive special interest agendas. The ACLU’s disdain for the Second Amendment as a foundational and individual right isn’t new, but it is an attempt to flip it on its head. The ACLU‘s argument that the Second Amendment is a tool of oppressors doesn’t just ignore history. It is rewriting cold, hard facts.
The criticism over the outlandish claims was as quick as it was severe. The Twitter-sphere lit up with reactions denouncing ACLU for peddling falsehoods.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby noted the irony that the ACLU was denouncing the Second Amendment at a time when African-Americans are claiming their gun rights in record numbers. “The ACLU has completely lost the plot. Meanwhile, the [sic] National African American Gun Association, which began in 2015 with a single chapter in Atlanta, now comprises more than 75 chapters with 30,000 members,” Jacoby tweeted.
NSSF’s own retailer surveys in 2020 showed African-Americans were buying guns at a 58 percent increased rate over 2019. At the same time, Hispanic-Americans were buying guns at a 49 percent increased rate and Asian-Americans at a 43 percent increased rate.
National Review writer David Harsanyi lambasted the claims as “nonsense,” and linked to a previous article where he debunked the same claims pushed by the 1619 Project as “wishful thinking.” Harsanyi refuted the theories, pointing out that John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams were abolitionists who argued against slavery and for the right to keep and bear arms. Harsanyi pointed out the ludicrous presumption that if African-Americans are being denied their rights, then that right must be stripped of all Americans.
“We don’t attack the idea of free speech simply because people are denied its protections,” he wrote. “That fact only accentuates its importance. For most of our history, self-defense was also seen as an immutable right that existed with or without the sanction of the state.”
Real Racist Roots
Maj Toure, founder of Black Guns Matter, told The Daily Caller in his usually blunt fashion that claims the Second Amendment is racist is an attempt to, “brainwash black people into believing that having the means to defend themselves is nefarious. I think gun control is racist, not the Second Amendment.”
Toure explained to The Daily Caller these attempts to twist history are exactly why he and his organization are dedicated to educating the public about their rights.
That used to be the role of the ACLU – to educate the public and defend civil liberties from government infringement. The Second Amendment is a second-class right in their estimation, though. The ACLU doesn’t agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 Heller decision that affirmed the Second Amendment as an individual right. They contend, still today, that owning a gun is a governmental matter.
“Given the reference to ‘a well regulated Militia’ and ‘the security of a free State,’ the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right,” the ACLU website states.
The ACLU isn’t just ignoring a Supreme Court ruling that’s over a decade old, they’re ignoring legal history that’s nearly 400 years old. That’s the racist history of gun control laws. Gun control is literally rooted in slave codes and Jim Crow laws. Some of those laws – like requiring local sheriffs to approve handgun sales – still exist in North Carolina. The Atlantic, a liberal news publication pointed out that in 1640, Virginia already had laws on the books preventing Blacks from owning guns. In 1712, a law for a total ban on black gun ownership was enacted to prevent slave revolts. Slave Codes were renamed Black Codes after the Civil War.
Even as late as 1994, the Clinton administration “introduced H.R. 3838 to ban guns in federal public housing, which would have affected 3 million individuals.”
Attempts to twist history to fit a particular narrative aren’t in anyone’s interest, least of all when those who would do it pretend it is for greater good. Nothing is further from the truth. The Second Amendment clearly isn’t a white right, or a Black right. It is a God-given right of all Americans to freely exercise at their choosing. If the ACLU can’t defend that, they need to change their name.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.