The Right to Keep and
by Richard Dimery
A New Visions Commentary
paper published October 2003 by The National Center for Public
Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
Our Declaration of Independence begins,
"When, in the course of human events it becomes necessary..."
This is important wording because it points out that we must
always have the means to end a tyrannical government.
Tyranny doesn't always come with a bang.
Sometimes, it comes as a myriad of little whimpers.
Likewise, the means and will of the people
to rise up against tyranny can be stolen incrementally by convincing
us to voluntarily yield it.
Patriot's Day, observed on April 19,
marks the anniversary of "the shot heard 'round the world"
when the colonists committed themselves to throwing off their
oppressive British rulers. The militia - individuals who valued
liberty - banded together in resistance. That armed rebellion
resulted in our independence, and it wouldn't have been possible
if the colonists allowed their guns to be confiscated.
With this realization fresh in their
memory, the Founding Fathers affirmed our basic and inalienable
right to gun ownership in the Bill of Rights.
In the 1850s, Dred Scott sued as a free
black man to obtain citizenship. In his majority opinion, Supreme
Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney wrote that those of an
"inferior race" should not enjoy the right to keep
and bear arms. His statement certainly met with the approval
of those who would become Night Riders - who preferred unarmed
By coincidence, however, Taney affirmed
the wide belief in the Second Amendment individual right to keep
and bear arms for (at the time, white) citizens. But giving a
black man the ability to defend himself, or even hunt for food,
was not a freedom many whites were willing to give to blacks
Even after the Emancipation Proclamation
freed our ancestors from bondage, we could still not rely on
law enforcement for protection. Rioting whites in Rosewood, Florida
and East St. Louis, Illinois during the first part of the 20th
century were deterred from inflicting further harm on black communities
there largely because black residents had guns.
Today, our citizenship is not an issue.
The right to keep and bear arms is not a "color" issue,
except when our culture can be manipulated.
The NAACP is now suing gun manufacturers
for allegedly flooding our neighborhoods with guns - pursuing
an agenda that ultimately includes denying ownership rights to
all, including peaceable black citizens. But all people have
the right to self-defense. And all citizens must have the ability
to become a militia, or else liberty's safeguard is lost.
Both white and black leaders exhort us
to let only law enforcement possess guns. This directly contradicts
all the lessons of the past. As the masses become more dependent
on government for protection and handouts, government power and
invincibility grows. When the government controls the guns, the
government's power grab becomes absolute. Just ask the victims
of dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein.
Our "black leadership" argues
that we, a spiritual and moral people, cannot responsibly possess
weapons. But, for the reasons cited previously, disarming America
is not in our best interests. Total defenselessness invites continued
government excesses and criminal victimization. Government does
not exist to guarantee total security of every person. Until
help arrives, only the individual can act in his own best interest.
At the same time, only an unjust government need fear the people
and their arms.
Question our "leaders." Question
their true agenda. "We the People" must demand, defend
and invoke the Second Amendment's guarantee of gun ownership.
We must demand that our leaders, public
and private, honor our rights and our Constitution. Of all the
rights to be upheld, this one is premier. Without it, all others
are lost. For if we ever allow ourselves to be totally disarmed
for even an instant, that right bears little likelihood of being
(Richard Dimery is a member
of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership
network Project 21. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author,
and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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