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MLK: How much bloodier our history could be if he heeded today’s NRA

Saturday was Gun Appreciation Day. There were rallies in many places, including Juneau. About two dozen people were in front of the State Capitol while I was driving in town. There were a number of signs with long quotes on them. One of them was “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

Today in the US, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. Although King was committed to nonviolence, he was still accused of being a militant communist. In our reality, his nonviolent movement brought an end to the Jim Crow laws, legalized segregation and the right to vote. All without firing a shot. But what if King could have been influenced by the forerunners of today’s NRA – that an armed society was a polite society; that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun was with a good guy with a gun and that only firearms could guarantee rights. What if he and his fellow ministers and civil rights workers were successful in indoctrinating these beliefs into the the African-American community? In this parallel universe, we might have seen headlines like these:

  • KING: A GUN IN EVERY NEGRO HOME
  • NAACP: BULLET BOX FORCED ON US SINCE BALLOT BOX DENIED
  • NEGRO CHURCHES POST ARMED GUARDS IN WAKE OF CHURCH BOMBINGS
  • KING: NO APOLOGY FOR SHOOTOUT WITH KKK
  • MILLION RIFLE MARCH PROPOSED FOR DC
  • RALLY ENDS IN BLOODY CROSSFIRE
  • GOVERNOR WALLACE IMPOSES MARTIAL LAW IN ALABAMA, KING PROMISES ARMED RESISTANCE

And so on…

Then there would be issue of where African-Americans would get all these guns. I assume few southern White gun shop owners would have sold to African-Americans in the early 1960s. I’m not sure how many northerners would be eager to sell to an armed African-American movement back then. So maybe, to ensure his race’s Second Amendment rights, King and his allies would have been driven to deal with Cubans and Soviets to obtain smuggled guns. Or maybe King would have started a “constructive program” of armories to build guns for his movement. How do you think a country that freaked out over a nonviolent civil rights movement would have reacted to one that either engaged in actual foreign collusion or had a nationwide network of cottage gun factories?

If King had taken the path outlined by today’s NRA and their supporters, I’m pretty confident we would have had a decade long civil war and African Americans would be further away from their rights than ever.  Sometimes guns aren’t the right answer.

2 Responses

  1. You’re probably correct, Daniel. BTW, the sign they were holding that speaks volumes about these folks was this one: YOU CAN HAVE MY GUNS AN AMMO……..ONE BULLET AT A TIME!

  2. It’s amazing that the NRA can present itself as a civil rights organization. With very few exceptions, they have been absent from the major civil rights battles of the last century.

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