The entwined histories of guns and race in America

Second. By Carol Anderson. Bloomsbury; 272 pages; $ 28 and £ 18.99

Ah Black Even before the republic was founded, having a gun was a white American nightmare. Slave rebellions, black soldiers fighting in national wars, and even African-American drivers are all spurring fear and violence backed by white supremacist authority. Carol Anderson, in “The Second,” a compact yet radical history of guns and races in the United States, “holds and retains arms” is not about the abstract freedom to carry guns. Claims to have been. Its main role was “black exclusion and sneakyness”.

Anderson writes that the Second Amendment to the Constitution was born out of sin. The word “slavery” does not appear in the Constitution. Racism is not explicitly stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But she claims it was at the heart of the guarantee. When 55 representatives of the Constitutional Council, 25 of whom were slave owners, drafted an alternative to the Articles of Confederation in 1787, they knew that they needed the consent of the southern states. According to Anderson, the amendment was “a bribe to the South that took advantage of black rule.” Slave owners could be confident that they would arm themselves for fear of raising their suffering property.

Other scholars have provided a more subtle explanation of the origin of the modification, but there is no doubt that its “well-regulated militia” had the brilliance of racial domination. It was reinforced by the Unified Militia Act of 1792, requiring white men between the ages of 18 and 45 to join the state militia and purchase guns. In contrast, a free black Virginiaman caught with a gun in 1832 acquired 39 eyelashes. The same penalties apply in Florida and can be enforced on the spot by patrols of white citizens. In 1846, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects “the right to retain and bear the right to keep and bear arms of all statements, regardless of age or sex, men, women or boys.” .. However, he refused to revoke the law prohibiting “free people of color” from owning them. Several other states had similar bans.

This interpretation of the double-barreled name contributed to centuries of atrocities against unprotected black Americans. Ms. Anderson talks about the horrifying reaction of the South Carolina militia to the 1739 Slave Rebellion, in which slaves were “tortured, shot, hanged, and struck alive in Gibbet.”White militia “made Swiss cheese” [black] President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the disgraceful dismissal of 167 black soldiers in 1906. Unfounded suspicion that some of their ranks shot whites in Brownsville, Texas. ..

For African Americans, the emptiness of armed rights is well documented in Ms. Anderson’s vivid retelling. Neither the 19th-century reconstruction nor the 20th-century civil rights movement made any difference in the landmarks of racial progress. There is also no National Rifle Association (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), An avid advocate of gun rights that came to the fore in the 1960s targeted this prejudice. In 1967 Nuclear Regulatory Commission He helped draft a bill in California to disarmament the Black Panther Party, a black self-defense organization that “did not break the firearms law.” In recent years, Ms. Anderson has shot and killed Philland Castile in 2016 after police revealed that she had a gun (legally) in St. Paul, Minnesota. Said that police response to police violence against black men was delayed. ..

However, “The Second” is lacking as a contribution to the modern debate over gun rights. The book does not mention the long consent of Judge Clarence Thomas. McDonald’s v Chicago (2010), which covers many of the same historical grounds. Judge Thomas, an African-American himself, like Ms. Anderson, lamented white supremacism, which permanently denied the right to guns to black citizens, as tragic. But in his eyes, armed rights continue to be the key to their salvation. Ms. Anderson could have worked on the reading to hone her dissenting views: the fix was “essentially structurally flawed” and “to citizens and human rights” for black Americans. It will never be the way to go. ”

This article was published in the Printed Books and Arts section under the heading “Double Standards”.

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