No, American’s love for guns is not rooted in slavery

In the latest installment of ‘everything is racist,’ a new piece in the Guardian says American’s ‘obsession’ with guns in rooted in Slavery. 

Carol Anderson, who is black, wrote the piece:

Bodies are piling up all over the second amendment as two of America’s pandemics converge. The “plague of gun violence” and the inability to mount an effective response, even in the wake of multiple mass shootings, is, unfortunately, rooted in the other pandemic gripping the United States: anti-Blackness and the sense that African Americans are a dangerous threat that can only be neutralized or stopped by a well-armed white citizenry.

For too long, the second amendment has been portrayed with a founding fathers aura swaddled in the stars and stripes.

But “a well-regulated militia” wasn’t, as the story goes, about how valiant and effective the militias were in repelling the British. 

On the other hand, where the militia had been steadfast was in controlling the enslaved Black population. Access to guns for white people was essential for this function.


The Second Amendment is no more related to slavery that the First or the Fourth. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with a militia as a military force. The idea was, and still is, that armed men and women are the best guarantors of freedom. That someone with a rifle in their hand can defend their families, their homes, and their nation if need be. 

The right in the Second Amendment applies to everyone. White and black. 

Anderson gets a lot of the history of the colonies wrong, and tries to draw a line from slavery to Charleton Heston and Dana Lasch. She then tried to make another incorrect point. 

The slaughters in Sandy Hook, the Pulse Club in Orlando, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and San Bernardino did not lead to any meaningful gun safety laws despite the staggering casualties. The rampant anti-Blackness that dominated Barack Obama’s presidency helped to short-circuit a tangible, legislative response. Instead, the fear of being left defenseless to a nation with a sizable Black population and Black leadership was palpable. Gun sales soared by 158% as did the rise of anti-Black rightwing militias.

Anderson must not read the Guardian. The paper, back in April, wrote a piece about black Americans flocking to gun clubs and gun stores. 

Americans bought a record number of firearms last year. An estimated 5 million people bought their first ever gun between March and August, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade organization, and that number continued to climb throughout the year. Black Americans saw the highest increase in new gun owners of any demographic, the NSSF found, with gun ownership in the group up by a staggering 58.2%.

Black gun ownership – sometimes referred to as the Black tradition of arms – has seen many iterations. After the American civil war, newly freed Black people formed militias to defend themselves against white supremacist violence. Into the mid-20th century, civil rights activists such as Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr were known to carry guns and groups like the Deacons for Defense in the south and Black Panthers wielded their firearms publicly as a part of their activism.

It’s not just activists. People who live in neighborhoods where they feel threatened are much more likely to buy a gun. Go ask people on Milwaukee’s north side about carrying a pistol. Legal or not. 

American gun ownership is the same now as it was throughout history, people want the responsibility of protecting their families and homes. They don’t want to wait on the police or rely on someone else. You don’t always need a gun, but when you need a gun, you need a gun.

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