A Black perspective on gun control

The Supreme Court decision to overturn Chicago’s prohibition of firearm possession rests on more than the Second Amendment. It also rests on the Fourteenth Amendment, which brought equal protections under law to freed slaves after the Civil War.

How times do change. An amendment that helped blacks to protect themselves from Ku Klux Klan terrorists now is being used to help protect a black Chicago man from local gang bangers.

That was why Otis McDonald, 76, said he needed a gun to protect himself in his gang-troubled South Side neighborhood. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with his plea to overturn the city’s gun ban.

In interviews, McDonald has freely acknowledged that he made a particularly attractive lead plaintiff since he is African-American, an almost invisible ethnic group in coverage of the pro-gun side.

With the emotional force of a man raised in rural Georgia during the last days of legal segregation, Justice Clarence Thomas recounted page after page of terror spread by “militias such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces and the ’76 Association” and how “the use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves from mob violence.”

Chicago and the District of Columbia have fought back with new laws that restrict the purchases, possession or use of guns without an outright ban. But, for the foreseeable future, this country has too long and deep of a tradition of gun ownership — and way too many guns in circulation — for the tide to be turned by city gun ordinances, no matter how well intentioned.

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