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Why Martin Luther King Couldn't Get a Carry Permit


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https://reason.com/2021/10/27/why-martin-luther-king-couldnt-get-a-carry-permit/

 

Why Martin Luther King Couldn't Get a Carry Permit

Several groups urging the Supreme Court to overturn New York’s virtual ban on bearing arms emphasize the policy’s racist roots and racially disproportionate impact.

JACOB SULLUM | 10.27.2021 12:01 AM

 

After his home was bombed in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a permit to carry a gun. Despite the potentially deadly threats that King faced as a leader of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, the county sheriff, Mac Sim Butler, said no.

 

Next week the Supreme Court will consider a challenge to a New York law similar to the Alabama statute that empowered local officials like Butler to decide who could exercise the constitutional right to bear arms. The briefs urging the Court to overturn New York's statute include several from African-American organizations that emphasize the long black tradition of armed self-defense, the racist roots of gun control laws, and their disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities.

 

At the time, it was illegal in Alabama to carry a pistol "in any vehicle" or concealed on one's person without a license. The law said a probate judge, police chief, or sheriff "may" issue a license "if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his person or property, or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol."

 

As the National African American Gun Association notes in its Supreme Court brief, Southern states historically used that sort of discretionary carry permit law to disarm black people ...

 

That situation is unsurprising, the brief says, given the origins of New York's gun licensing regime. The Sullivan Act of 1911, which required a license to own handguns and "gave local police broad discretion to decide who could obtain one," was enacted after "years of hysteria over violence that the media and the establishment attributed to racial and ethnic minorities—particularly Black people and Italian immigrants."

...

Black Guns Matter emphasizes that "armed self-defense has always been vitally important to the African American community"—a tradition that stretches from the struggle against slavery through the civil rights movement.

...

 

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The law said a probate judge, police chief, or sheriff "may" issue a license "if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his person or property, or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol."

 

As the National African American Gun Association notes in its Supreme Court brief, Southern states historically used that sort of discretionary carry permit law to disarm black people ...

 

This obviously has evolved over the years, so they're using it to disarm everyone now.

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