Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gun advocates: Georgia "public gatherings" law has racist roots

Article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution discussing Georgia's law prohibiting guns, even by law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits, at "public gatherings".
Next month is the 140th anniversary of the Camilla Massacre, when a group largely made up of blacks heading to a Southwest Georgia Republican political rally were shot up by white locals after being warned not to bring guns to town.

Gun-rights advocates say the September 1868 massacre, in which at least nine freedmen were killed and up to 25-30 were wounded, led the General Assembly to ban citizens from carrying firearms at political rallies and other “public gatherings.” The aim, they say, was to keep guns away from blacks.

“It was entirely about race,” said Ed Stone, president of

But many African-American lawmakers don’t see the “public gatherings” law as a civil rights issue. In fact, at the Capitol, black lawmakers have been some of the leading backers of gun-control legislation over the years.
Two years later, the General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting citizens from carrying guns into places of public worship, court, voting precincts or other “public gatherings.”

E.R. Lanier, a Georgia State University law professor who teaches Georgia legal history, said historical documents connecting the massacre with the gun law from that time are limited. But, he said, ” There is a connection, there is no doubt about it.”

Article here. The history of gun control laws in America is undeniably one driven by racist motives, whether in Reconstruction era laws designed to keep former slaves disarmed, or laws such as New York's infamous Sullivan Law (which is still in effect), designed to keep Italian immigrants disarmed. I've always been dismayed that African-American legislators so eagerly supported (and support) laws that were designed and intended to oppress their own race.

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