Support Jim Crow?

Published 9:19 pm Monday, April 2, 2018

By Joe Bass

It was hoped this column could return to providing history and insights dealing with the causes of American social problems. But there is too much focus on a myth to be ignored.

Gun control has not been, nor is it today about public safety. In the 1940s and ‘50s, American society was stable and safe. Nearly all firearms, including military style rifles (M1 Carbines), were mailed to homes without criminal background checks. But changes dealing with civil rights and poverty were needed and attempted. Some changes bought about excellent results. Some changes have caused the major challenges we experience today.

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Instead of focusing on overcoming today’s major problems, too many ignore reality and focus on a myth. Gun control is about bigotry. In our history, every time there have been minority uprisings against a political system controlled by an elite, rich, politically powerful group, gun control has been promoted far and wide.

From the earliest times in Colonial America, slaves were severely whipped if caught with a firearm. Following the Civil War, Southern states immediately enacted “black codes” that included laws against blacks owning firearms. Klan night raids focused on searching black Americans’ homes and taking their firearms. There were no laws against concealed carry until after the Nat Turner insurrection. During Jim Crow, if a white man were found to be carrying a concealed handgun, he was not arrested. If a black man were found to be carrying a concealed handgun, he was arrested, charged, convicted, jailed and often “rented out” to his former white owner.

Historians often ignore newspaper articles regarding bigotry associated with passage of New York’s 1911 Sullivan Law. The popular cry for this concealed carry law focused on Italians and other minorities by rich, corrupt Irish-controlled Tammany Hall politicians. The law continues today but has been amended, increasing restrictions. The 1934 National Firearms Act focused on Italian mobsters using Thompson machine guns.

Early attempts to pass what became the Gun Control Act of 1968 were not effective until black activists began arming themselves and patrolling streets in cities such as Oakland, Calif. The Black Panthers were originally titled Black Panthers for Self Defense. Their stated purpose was to protect black citizens against police brutality. An original Black Panther founder was convicted of killing an Oakland officer in 1968, but the conviction was overturned. Now California has some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the nation.

Today, gun control efforts are associated with conflict mainly between black activists, the political establishment and police. This situation is so dire that even when police actions are correct, they are condemned for police brutality. Police officers have been assassinated.

It is an American tragedy that citizens continue to promote Jim Crow laws, thinking the killings will stop. European nations where firearms are either prohibited or highly restricted continue to experience killings based on underlying social problems. Illegal firearms continue to be available, easily made bombs are planted, and vehicles are used to kill more people than are being killed here.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at