A History of Gun Control

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One of the Longreads selections from the past week is this article in the Atlantic on gun control and the ambiguity of the second amendment’s language. This story doesn’t just divide into a two-sided argument over the right to bear arms  in this country. This one applies to the Civil Rights movement, the ideological differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and furthermore, the gun control-related ideas that were regenerated by the Black Panthers. It’s a history of gun control and racism, the second amendment and more.

“Indisputably, for much of American history, gun-control measures, like many other laws, were used to oppress African Americans. The South had long prohibited blacks, both slave and free, from owning guns. In the North, however, at the end of the Civil War, the Union army allowed soldiers of any color to take home their rifles. Even blacks who hadn’t served could buy guns in the North, amid the glut of firearms produced for the war. President Lincoln had promised a “new birth of freedom,” but many blacks knew that white Southerners were not going to go along easily with such a vision. As one freedman in Louisiana recalled, “I would say to every colored soldier, ‘Bring your gun home.’”


Sam Riley is an adult who works at McSweeney's. More from this author →