Bills Quills and Stills

 

BILLS, QUILLS and STILLS

 

AN ANNOTATED, ILLUSTRATED, AND ILLUMINATED HISTORY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

 

By Robert J. McWhirter 

Editions - Hardbound or Softbound?

 

 

 

 

Robert J. McWhirter

Robert J. McWhirter is a nationally and internationally known speaker and author on trial advocacy, immigration law, and the history of the bill of rights.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Guns, race and that flag - They’ve always been bound together in America

Posted by on in Uncategorized
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 3935
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

The shooting in South Carolina made clear the connection of guns and race in America. Statistics of inner-city gun violence show the connection pretty much every day.

In this context, the National Rifle Association actually believes in gun control. “Nothing,” says the NRA, should infringe on the right of “law-abiding citizens to bear arms.” So, everybody not “law abiding” gets controlled.

But does “not law abiding” mean black people? History says yes.

In the late 1960s, the Black Panthers creed was “the gun is the only thing that will free us.” In 1967, they invaded the California Assembly with guns in hand to protest the Mulford Act, which made it illegal to carry loaded firearms in public.

The NRA came to support the Mulford Act, and that icon of American conservatism, Gov. Ronald Reagan, signed the law, stating, “I see no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons;” the Mulford Act “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The national Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 followed, which the NRA did not oppose. The “not-law-abiding” blacks got controlled.

But the history goes back further. We think of the American South as the most anti-gun-control part of the nation — in reality it was always the most gun controlled. From before the American Revolution until well after the Civil War, slaves couldn’t touch a gun without the master’s permission. Laws prohibited even free blacks from having a gun, a situation that persisted throughout the Jim Crow South well into the 20th century. This was strict gun control.

A gun-toting slave with no rights under the law by definition cannot be “law abiding.”

D.W. Griffith’s racist silent film of 1915, “The Birth of a Nation” (a.k.a. “The Clansman”), was the first movie blockbuster and ends with the disenfranchisement and disarming of blacks. “ The Birth of a Nation” remains a Klu Klux Klan favorite and a recruiting tool.

So, guns and race have been connected throughout American history. They were connected again at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Roof chose his venue and victims with purpose. And, as if the connection of guns and race was not clear enough, Mr. Roof murdered under the banner of the so-called Confederate flag.

The “Confederate flag” was actually not the flag of the Confederacy but of the Army of Northern Virginia. It’s graphically appealing. We grew up with TV’s “Dukes of Hazzard” and the General Lee racer draped in the Confederate flag invoking good-natured mischief and independence. But this obscured history.

Assertions of southern “heritage” and “pride” and “states’ rights” cannot change the Confederate battle flag as an icon of the fight to maintain slavery and insurrection. Dylann Roof made the point as he waved it while burning the American flag.

Claims of “heritage” cannot look only to some putative ancestor who may have fought bravely for the Confederacy. That heritage is itself hateful. As Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens stated in 1861, the Confederacy “corrected” Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “all men are created equal”:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

Claim Southern heritage and pride, but if you wave the “Confederate flag,” it comes with the violent racist cornerstone that was the Confederacy. As much as the KKK hood, the Confederate flag remains the enduring symbol of white supremacy. This is why, when Dylann Roof walked into a Bible meeting with a gun, it was about race, gun control and a flag.

The real question is why we would need yet another reminder that race is still an issue, that guns need regulation and that the Confederate symbol of racism needs to vanish from American life.

Robert McWhirter is a practicing criminal lawyer and the author of “Bill, Quills, and Stills: An Annotated, Illustrated, and Illuminated History of the Bill of Rights,” forthcoming from the American Bar Association in August.

0

Books

Criminal Lawyers Guide to Immigation Law

Criminal Lawyers Guide to Immigration Law

By Robert J. McWhirter


The Citizenship Flowchart

The Citizenship Flowchart

By Robert J. McWhirter


At Risk Youth

At Risk Youth

By Robert J. McWhirter w/ J. Jeffries McWhirter, Benedict T. McWhirter, Ellen Hawley McWhirter

Amazon Buy Button

 google books