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Gun Control Is Racial Discrimination Essay

1215 words - 5 pages

Gun violence is one of the most serious problems in the United States. Each year in the U.S., more than 35,000 people are killed by guns, a death rate much higher than that in any other industrial nations. In 1997, approximately 70 percent of the murders in the United States were committed with guns. However, ironically, the United States also is the country that has the most gun control laws. Gun control laws generally focus on passing legislation—by local state, or national government—to restrict legal ownership of certain firearms. Seemingly, gun control laws may decrease criminals’ access to guns, but in fact the same laws also have their negative effects. Thus, the controversy over gun control is always heated. But my paper is not about whether guns should be controlled or not. From another angle, looking closely at those gun control laws and their enforcement, we can not only see the criminal problem in America, but also another important social problem in America—racial discrimination.

The racial problem of gun control has raised attention of some American scholars in the U.S. For example, a black man, General Lancy, who is the founder of a little organization known as the National Black Sportsman’s Association, often called “the black gun lobby” said when asked his opinion of gun control: “Gun control is really race control. People who embrace gun control are really racists in nature. All gun laws have been enacted to control certain classes of people, mainly black people…” Some white men have said almost the same thing. Investigative reporter Robert Sherrill concluded in his book The Saturday Night Special that the object of the Gun Control Act of 1968 was black control rather than gun control. Congress passed the act to “shut off weapons access to blacks, and since they (Congress) probably associated cheap guns with ghetto blacks and thought cheapness was peculiarly the characteristic of imported military surplus and the mail-order traffic, they decided to cut off these sources while leaving over-the-counter purchases open to the affluent.”

Gun control in the United States has its history. Prohibitions against the sale of cheap handguns originated in the post-Civil War South. In the 1870s and 1880s, small pistols costing as little as 50 or 60 cents were obtainable, and since they could be afforded by blacks and poor whites, these guns posed a significant threat to those who were wealthy or powerful. They were afraid that blacks and poor whites possessing guns would break their established social structure. So consequently, in 1870, Tennessee banned “selling all but ‘the Army and Navy model’ handgun”. Of course this type of gun was the most expensive one, which was beyond the means of most blacks and laboring people. In 1881, Arkansas enacted an almost identical ban on the sale of cheap revolvers. In 1902, South Carolina banned the sale of handguns to all but “sheriffs and their special deputies”. In 1893 and 1907, respectively,...

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