October 23, 2007

Guns > Martin Luther King Owned Guns, Sought a Concealed Carry Permit

Eric Scheie:

Well before his decision (apparently in 1955) to embrace Ghandian non-violence as the best tactic in the national showdown over civil rights, King had been a committed civil rights activist, but also a man who believed in protecting himself and his family against constant threats of racist violence (which included the bombing of his home).

Accordingly, the pre-Ghandian King had been armed to protect himself and his family -- to the point where his home was described by one activist as "an arsenal":

King would later admit that at the start of the boycott be was not firmly committed to Gandhian principles. He had initially advocated nonviolence not as a way of life but as a practical necessity for a racial minority. When his home was bombed at the end of January, he had cited Jesus-- "He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword"-- rather than Gandhi in urging angry black neighbors to remain nonviolent. At the time of the bombing, King was seeking a gun permit, and he was protected by armed bodyguards. Only after the bombing did King alter his views on the use of weapons for protection. His reconsideration was encouraged by the arrival in Montgomery of two pacifists who were far more aware than he of Gandhian principles.

Competing with each other for the influence over King, Bayard Rustin, a black activist affiliated with the War Resisters League, and Glenn E. Smiley, a white staff member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, saw themselves as King's tutors on Gandhian precepts. Rustin was shocked to discover a gun in King's house, while Smiley informed fellow pacifists that King's home was "an arsenal."

King appears to have not only been personally armed, but he applied for (and was unconstitutionally denied) a gun permit:

Martin King was not committed to nonviolence at the beginning of the bus protest. As white violence became increasingly focused on King personally through police harassment, the bombing of his home, volumes of hate mail, and frequent telephone threats of harm, King, seeking to protect himself and his family from white violence, applied for a gun permit, which, of course, was rejected. The threat of violence was so real that armed blacks took turns guarding King's home. King also kept a loaded gun in his house, which Bayard Rustin of the War Resistance League nearly sat on during a visit.

Eric has much more, including the racist origin of many gun control laws.

Incidentally, Alabama's refusal to grant King a carry permit is yet another example of why discretionary government permitting is a bad idea. Any discretionary system is prone to abuse and corruption. Today Alabama and most other states are shall-issue, which means they're required to issue carry permits to anyone who legally qualifies. That's the same practice used for most other government permitting - driver's licenses, marriage permits, voter registration, etc., and is the only way to avoid abuse.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack



Comments

Hi lesjones,

I'm not sure where you obtained your information about MLK but I just read his wife Coretta King's book about her life with her husband and this is the post that I did about it today on my website forum:

http://www.hostingphpbb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=171&mforum=nonviolentplane

Peace, Love, Understanding and Respect,
Marilyn

Posted by: badthing at May 27, 2008

"I'm not sure where you obtained your information about MLK"

I obtained it from the sources that I clearly linked to in the post.

I read your post and it's possible that the events are from two different time periods. If you read Eric's post above you'll see that it states "At the time of the bombing, King was seeking a gun permit, and he was protected by armed bodyguards. Only after the bombing did King alter his views on the use of weapons for protection. His reconsideration was encouraged by the arrival in Montgomery of two pacifists who were far more aware than he of Gandhian principles."

Posted by: Les Jones at May 28, 2008

"I'm not sure where you obtained your information about MLK"

I obtained it from the sources that I clearly linked to in the post.

I read your post and it's possible that the events are from two different time periods. If you read Eric's post above you'll see that it states "At the time of the bombing, King was seeking a gun permit, and he was protected by armed bodyguards. Only after the bombing did King alter his views on the use of weapons for protection. His reconsideration was encouraged by the arrival in Montgomery of two pacifists who were far more aware than he of Gandhian principles."

Posted by: Les Jones at May 28, 2008
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