Racist Gun Laws

Ida B. Wells was a leading voice against lynchings during the 1800s. She and other black activists also urged black families to protect themselves with firearms, as Dave Kopel writes. Wells wrote about cases of black people successfully defending themselves and concluded: “The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for the protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged, lynched.”

The Florida legislature responded by requiring gun licenses, Kopel continues. The intent and effect of the restrictions was to disarm black people.

Soham Sankaran writes, “Both laws protecting gun ownership and gun control laws had racist intents and produced racist effects.” He also wrote a longer essay on the topic.

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