By rights, the Second Amendment should serve as a totem of African-Americans’ full citizenship and enfranchisement. For centuries, firearms have been indispensable to black liberation: as crucial a defense against tyranny for Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. as for Sam Adams and George Washington. Today, however, many black Americans have a decidedly mixed relationship with the right to bear arms.
In August, as the outrage over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., dominated the news, an African-American group calling itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club took to the streets of Dallas, rifles in hand, to protest. Local businesses were supportive, and the city’s police chief confirmed in a statement that his department “supports the constitutional rights of all.” On Twitter, the hashtag #blackopencarry prompted a warm response from conservatives.
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