The first major ban on the open carrying of firearms — a Republican-led bill that was drafted after Black Panthers began hanging around the State Legislature in Sacramento with their guns on display — was signed in 1967 by none other than Gov. Ronald Reagan of California. The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 was primarily a reaction to the scourge of “Saturday night specials” — cheap handguns owned by the poor and the black. The National Rifle Association opposed neither law.
So the fact that one of the seminal Second Amendment cases in American history is named for a black plaintiff is a beautiful and moving thing indeed. McDonald v. Chicago, argued in 2010, was brought by Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old black man tired of watching his neighborhood give way to crime and gang warfare. The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Second Amendment applied not just to all people, but to the states as well as to the federal government, and that Chicago was therefore not permitted to prohibit Mr. McDonald from keeping a handgun for his defense…
At least 15 percent of African-Americans report that they own guns — about the same rate as all other “nonwhites.” But as anybody who has attended an N.R.A. convention can attest, there is a gaping hole in the organization’s membership. Look around the convention center and you will see plenty of women, a good number of Asians and Hispanics, and even a smattering of children. Blacks? Not so much.
This is a tremendous shame. It is one thing for the N.R.A. to celebrate black Second Amendment advocates such as its spokesman Colion Noir, and Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, but it is quite another for Wayne LaPierre to inveigh against “home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters,” and for the camera to then pan around a sea of white faces clapping in unison.