From time in memorial the blacks have been discriminated against in the United States of America. Some legislation was put in place to “keep the blacks in their place”. Such legislation that was put in place was the law that banned the Blacks from owning, and using a gun. All through the American history gun control laws was directed towards keeping the blacks from accessing guns. This paper will look into the discrimination associated with the gun control laws. The reason why the gun control laws should be considered as “suspect ideas”, that has been part of the American Legal System.
Racists’ arms laws have been in place for a very long time in the United States of America. From the year beginning 1751, there was a rule that was put in place in the state of Louisiana. The rule known as the Black code, the law required that all blacks in Louisiana to stop when stopped by the white Colonists. The colonists were allowed to beat “any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane” (Winston, 190). If the black who was stopped was on a horseback, and had defied the order to stop the colonist was allowed to “shoot to kill”. The possession o f a gun was necessary even for the slaves when they were living in a frontier where fighting was going on, but even under such circumstances laws continued to be enacted to stop the blacks from owning guns. Even the free black people were not allowed to own guns (Winston 180).
In the 1790’s a revolution by the slaves in Haiti managed to overthrow their masters who were French leading to a war between the black race and the white masters. Due to the development in Haiti there was fear in the French colony of Louisiana, as well among the white population in the United States of America. In the year 1803 the very first officials arrived at the State of New Orleans to take over the state after it was taken as colony by the United States. After the arrival of the officials the new city government put some laws in place which were directed towards the black population (Bulmer, 190).
The rules that were put in place included, all the blacks even the free slaves be disarmed. Some rules stated that “free blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms.” The white population was also banned from teaching the sports of fencing to the blacks, even the blacks’ effort to teach fencing to other Blacks was prohibited. Implementation of the rules was asset back to the blacks as they were not able to protect themselves adequately as the white’s did, they were not even allowed to take place in a sport like fencing (Bulmer, 210).
In the northern part of America, the new states remained fearful of the armed blacks. As a result the slave states in the north came up with Laws that were meant for the Black people alone. The perception held by the White population that the free blacks had sympathy for their enslaved brothers and the free black slaves were setting an example to the enslaved that “a Negro could be free” contributed to the laws (Bulmer, 200).
In the State of Maryland, laws were passed banning the free Black people from owning pets such as dogs without having a license. The white population was also authorized to kill any dog that did not have a license and owned by a free black slave. In Mississippi the law was more severe as it banned any black person from owning a dog whether free or not, the reason put forward was that the Blacks could use the dogs as weapon against the White population (Bulmer, 180).
The Laws restricting the slave from possessing a gun has been in place for a very long time. The restrictions became more rampant after the rebellion that took place in the year 1831. The state of Virginia responded to the rebellion by banning all blacks from “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead…”. Laws allowing the black population from owning guns occasionally was scrapped thus making it illegal for the Blacks to own guns. Even before the legislation of the new laws, but after the rebellion. A black family that was found in possession of just lead powder was a reason enough for the white population to consider executing the owner of the powder even though he did not have a weapon to fire. That notion is the same in some of the states that being in possession of ammunition without a firearm license could lead to imprisonment even if the person do not have a gun to use in firing the ammunition (Williams, 200).
The fear of an armed black brought so much fear among the Whites, that some states even revised their Laws in order to suppress the Black from owning guns. In the year 1834, the Tennessee constitution was revised, the article XI, 26 of the 1796 of the constitution was changed. The article initially read “That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense,” which was changed to: “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense.” The reason for the change in the Tennessee constitution was not clear. The only clear interpretation was that only the white people were allowed to own arms (Williams, 180).
After slavery came to an end in 1865, the problem associated with the racist gun control did not come to an end. The laws were slightly changed to state that Blacks were required to have a license before owning a weapon or carrying one (Fredrickson, 220). The restrictive Laws that were put in place to regulate gun ownership led to the Republicans to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, the reason for that was that the night riders were finding it difficult to locate the right location of a suspect when fired at. The stringent Laws were put in place to ensure that both the Blacks and the Whites were both equal before the Law. The only problem that came with the Law was that it was not enforced as it should have been; the black people were more affected by the law (Fredrickson, 210).
All the laws that were put in place were all put in place even though at times some laws were put in place to look as if they were to bring equity between the Black and White. The notion of an armed Black being dangerous is still being held up to date.
Bulmer, Martin, and John Solomos. Racism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.
Fredrickson, George M.. The comparative imagination on the history of racism, nationalism, and social movements. New York: University of California Press, 1997. Print.
Williams, Robert A.. Like a loaded weapon: the Rehnquist court, Indian rights, and the legal history of racism in America. New York: University of Minnesota Press, 2005. Print.
Winston, Andrew S.. Defining difference: race and racism in the history of psychology. New York: American Psychological Association, 2004. Print