Racism is the Root of Gun Control
Some many years ago while on an extended time of prayer and fasting in the beautiful and rugged mountains of central Idaho I came across a wooden Forest Service sign. I took the time to read the sign which said China Springs. The sign gave a troubling story. It told of a number of Chinese men who had come to the area during the gold rush, and were subsequently murdered for their gold that they had mined. I can’t quite explain what emotion came over me as I’m not generally an emotional person. However, in my mind’s eye I could see these Chinese men coming across the wide ocean to a new country in order to find a better life for themselves, and perhaps for their families. They crossed not only the Pacific Ocean but also half a continent to come in search of riches in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. They came to a country that most people would consider was a Christian nation, as the majority of the people dwelling in it considered themselves to be Christians. Yet I wondered if they had a chance to hear the Gospel? Their travels brought them to a horrid end at the hands of a murderer or murderers. Emotion came over me as I saw this from a spiritual and eternal perspective, thinking of the lost eternal opportunity to reach souls.
Well, I don’t know if the murderer or murderers were Americans, or if they also had come from another land, I don’t know. What came to my thoughts was that of a missed opportunity and the shedding of innocent blood. What next happened was totally out of my thoughts, but I heard clearly in my spirit the Holy Spirit say “The first door opened to evil attacks on the God-given right to keep and bear arms (protected by the Second Amendment) were open through racism.” While there was nothing I could do at that moment to confirm or check out what I had just heard, I certainly was struck by its clarity and by how it had come seemingly like out of nowhere.
I took the time to search for the graves of these Chinese men. I believe I was lead of the Lord because it would not have been easy to find otherwise. It was quite some ways away into the forest and up on the mountain. But when I found it, it was obviously a grave site. I can’t remember now if there were three or four graves, but they were of the kind you would see in the old westerns – just piled rocks into mounds. The grave site was surrounded by the zig-zag logs of the remains of a pole fence that had deteriorated over the century and more. I grieved for the lives of these men in a way that would not be natural and asked the Lord to forgive us for not taking the opportunity when we have it to reach out to people who may not know Him and bring the Gospel to them because of the eternal benefits which are available to them.
Sometime later after I returned home I took the words that the Spirit had spoken to me and began to study about the roots of the attacks against the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in our Second Amendment. I was surprised to find that the roots against the Second Amendment and the eternal right to own arms in America truly were rooted in racism. The first laws passed in America limiting the ownership of firearms were specifically made to keep firearms out of the hands of non-whites. Even before we were one nation, there were laws drafted such the French Black Code passed in French Louisiana in 1751. It required colonists to stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat “any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.” If a black refused to stop when demanded to do so the white colonist was authorized to “shoot to kill.” Similarly, in the colony of New Spain, prohibited all blacks, freeman or slave, from carrying arms. Of course much of these areas later became part of the United States. In the English colonies, many specifically excluded slaves and free blacks form having weapons. Maryland went so far as to prohibit freed blacks from owning dogs without a license (the owner, not the dog). In Virginia laws prohibiting non-whites from owning guns predate the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620 stating specifically “That all such free Mulattos, Negroes and Indians … shall appear without arms.”
After the our nation achieved Independence from Britain, these laws were continued in many states. Virginia’s law prohibited any freed black “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead…” The Tennessee Constitution, of 1834 read “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense.” In the infamous Dred Scott case of 1857, the concern over black people having access to guns was a key factor mentioned in the case. Dred Scott was a Negro slave who had been taken from slave state and into states where slavery was prohibited; eventually he requested freedom for himself and his wife, but was denied. He took his case to the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court where it was decided that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves,” whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court.” One of the main reasons behind the horrible decision was the fact that granting full constitutional rights to former slaves would mean they could “keep and carry arms wherever they went,” … “And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.” This decision became an indirect catalyst for the Civil War.
After the Civil War when former slaves were given citizenship, laws began to be passed in Democrat-controlled Southern states called Jim Crow laws. These were intended to keep black Americans from fully exercising all of their Constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. This is where the limitations on the Second Amendment really had strong expansions. These limitations or “Black Codes” lead directly to the Republican controlled Congress to passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Second Freedmen’s Bureau Bill and the Fifteenth Amendment. In fact, it would be accurate to state that one of the main reasons for passing the Fourteenth Amendment was to protect the right of non-white citizens to participate in the protections of the Second Amendment.
Some years later I was ministering in an African-American church in New York. After our meetings, while we were visiting at the pastor’s home, I asked some of the elders how could they allow modern day Jim Crow laws to be in effect and accepted by their community? They were surprised and curious as to what I meant. I explained the history of Jim Crow laws and the attempts to limit the Civil Rights and the Constitutional rights of minorities, and they seemed familiar with all this history. Then I asked how could these same things being allowed now? As an example, I spoke of the recent, at that time, executive order by then President Clinton, that anyone who lived in HUD housing must sign a waiver that they could not own a firearm. Since minorities primarily lived in HUD housing, I asked wasn’t this a modern-day Jim Crow law to keep minorities from owning firearms and exercising their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves? They were dumbfounded, they hadn’t thought of it.
Sometimes I think in our rush to receive perceived benefits from the government we too willingly give up our God-given rights. Benjamin Franklin said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” What we need to understand is that God-given rights are hated by the devil and all his minions. He has been granted access to attack what belongs to us as our inheritance, but when we uncover the source for his authority we can begin to make things right. In the past certain people blocked others from their right by race. Elitism is a root to racism and today these same type of people want to block greater numbers of people from their rights, but not deny themselves or their own. They will still be protected. We can close the doors of access so that the enemy can no longer steal, kill, and destroy that which has been handed to us by our forefathers – originally given to us by God. Margaret Thatcher said “That which thy fathers bequeath thee, earn it anew if thou wouldst possess it.” There is a truth in the statement “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
© Lloyd C. Phillips, Director
The Fellow Laborers’ International Network (FLInt Net)
P.O. Box 113 Missoula, MT 59806