Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., his struggle for peace lives on.
When most people think of the great man, born Michael King on January 15, 1929, they see an advocate for peace, who is celebrated by the US government -- honored every year in January, on the third Monday. However, what the government tells us and what this great man did are two separate stories -- especially when it comes to gun rights.
Dr. King's position as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement began after his election as spokesman for the Montgomery Improvement Association in December of 1955. What also started in that December of 1955 was the FBI's investigation into him.
Like all those who stand against government-sanctioned violence, Dr. King was an enemy of the state. The fact that he's celebrated today by the same state that persecuted him is quite Orwellian. Equally as Orwellian is the fact that his death was used as the cornerstone for gun control in the United States.
What few people know, however, is that King was pro-gun. Many people believe that since King was such an outspoken advocate for peace that he didn't believe in the rights of others to protect themselves. This is wrong.
King was known to keep firearms to protect himself against his many enemies. In fact, he actually applied for a concealed carry permit in 1956 -- but thanks to a racist and corrupt government -- he was denied.
In Alabama, where King applied for the permit, the state had laws on the books which allowed police to individually deny constitutional rights of citizens, arbitrarily.
Alabama was a "may issue" state at the time, meaning they were under no legal obligation at the time to issue the permit. Instead, police had final say in whether an application was approved.
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In a “may issue” state, a concealed carry permit is only issued if the local governing authority believes such issuance apropos. This tyrannical legislation allows the state, via sheriff’s offices and/or local police departments, to stand between the citizen and the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
UCLA law Prof. Adam Winkler explained this approach in an article for HuffPo:
Most people think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the mid-1950s, as the civil rights movement heated up, King kept firearms for self-protection. In fact, he even applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A recipient of constant death threats, King had armed supporters take turns guarding his home and family. He had good reason to fear that the Klan in Alabama was targeting him for assassination.
In 1956, after King’s house was bombed, King applied for a concealed carry permit in Alabama. The local police had discretion to determine who was a suitable person to carry firearms. King, a clergyman whose life was threatened daily, surely met the requirements of the law, but he was rejected nevertheless. At the time, the police used any wiggle room in the law to discriminate against African Americans.
Sadly, the same tyrannical legislation that was used to deny King a potentially life-saving concealed carry permit is still alive and well in the land of the free. Americans of all colors continue to face the barriers to self-defense in "may issue" states like California and New Jersey.
Last year, the Gun Owners of America issued a powerful tweet highlighting the dangers of such control.
As King's assassination illustrates, police can't or won't protect you and a gun may be your only line of defense. As the anti-self-defense groups rally around this day to use it to call for removing your right to protect yourself and your family, remember that even one of the most peaceful men in history knew the importance of the second amendment -- as well as the implications when the state acts to remove it.