How do you talk about gun control in the U.S. without talking about race?
Cheat sheet: you can’t. America’s lax gun control laws trace back to America’s fav and oldest boogeyman: the Blacks.
Recall, Anti-blackness got the Second Amendment sanctified into law.
Historian and Emory University Professor Carol Anderson lays out the story in The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. James Madison, who drafted the Constitution around 1787, put control of the militia in the hands of the Feds. So that the president would call the shots on the military. Seems straight forward, right? Not when you’re a slave-driving Southerner living in mortal fear of what you routinely do to your enslaved and what they’d do in retaliation and revolt.
And so, white men like George Mason and Patrick Henry wanted protection—for their “property.” Including the kind of protection a militia brings when shit hits the fan and enslaved folks rise up. To say nothing of how little Mason, Henry and their antebellum posse trusted Northerners or the Feds. They threatened to walk from the U.S. experiment altogether.
Enter the Second Amendment. An explicitly anti-Blackness bribe allowing the Feds to control the militia, as long as white men reserved the right to bear arms—against Blacks.
Which explains the long history of ignoring white terrorists who’ve lynched blacks and mobilized failed coups, from 1619 to George Floyd, to the Jan 6 insurrection (tour group) and beyond. The Second also explains how a snotty nosed 18 year old got the gall to slaughter 10 elders in broad daylight.
But here’s the diseased thing about violence: like any cancer, unchecked violence metastasizes.
There is a direct throughline between the anti-black fear and hatred which birthed the Second Amendment, to the fierce resistance to gun control during the Civil Rights/Black Panther era to Columbine in the 1990s, Sandy Hook ten years ago and now, Uvalde, TX.
Sandy Hook seemed like a game-changer for gun reform. And yet. A legacy of white supremacy and anti-blackness was chosen over protecting babies.
And now this.
There are no words equal to what’s unspeakable. But there are actions toward atonement. You can demand gun control legislation from your Congressperson. And you can get real about how white supremacy continues to protect the Second over our lives, including children’s lives. You can ask yourself what was an urgent question last week and what remains critical in making sense of Uvalde news, today:
What are you doing to uproot the white supremacy that’s buried within?
Meanwhile, Take care of yourself. Extra hugs to your babies.
p.s. Freedom Festival is coming June 16-19. Get tickets + scoop here.