I’m Black, Liberal and Pro Guns. Here’s Why

Yes, this petition is real. No, you can't click it.
Yes, this petition is real. No, you can’t click it.

There is a petition going around to repeal the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Don’t try clicking it. It won’t take you anywhere.

Even if you don’t know anything at all about the Constitution – there is some pretty good stuff in there –  you know about the Second Amendment. That’s the gun one. The one where the proto-Americans dropped that line about a “…well regulated Militia.” and then said, “Fuck it. They’ll figure it out.”

For some folk, those lines are the most American syllables ever uttered. Others look the same way a lot of Christians look at the lines in the Bible that advocate slavery and good old fashioned stoning.

Is it reasonable to raise arms once you realize your country has become a tyrannical state? One pithy Facebook guy suggested that the the Red Coats are long gone. Problem solved. Militia now moot.

But long before the Red Coats were driven from our shores, Africans and Native Americans in the United States lived in a tyrannical state. And that threat remained after the Constitution was ratified and the Red Coats climbed on their boats and got the fuck out of Dodge.

Below are four of examples of African Americans who raised arms to fight against tyranny. You should know, I’m just scratching the surface. If you click on the photos, they will take you to more detailed stories. Not, it wasn’t always State sponsored. Sometimes, it was just State approved.

Contemporary depiction of the Christiana Uprising.
Contemporary depiction of the Christiana Uprising.

The Christiana Rebellion: This one took place not far from where I grew up. Christiana Pennsylvania is where the rich, proper talking folk who work in offices in Philadelphia, go after the sun goes down. In 1851, however, it was a community where folks who had escaped from slavery went to find peace. And William Parker, ex slave and current farmer/ Underground Railroad conductor, wasn’t afraid to fire shots, to make sure that the free stayed free.

When slave owner Edward Gorsuch came to Parker’s farm, looking for his former captives, he shouted, “I will have my slaves, or perish!” And not surprisingly, he didn’t live through the day. Parker and his men shot the slave catchers down.

tulsa29The Greenwood Section of Tula Oklahoma, AKA Black Wall Street: You probably already know this one. A tyrannical mob attacked the wealthy, Greenwood section of the city, burning it down within the course of about 24 hours. People know the tragedy. The bombs dropped, the lives lost. But in that telling, people gloss over one thing. Remember, it erupted after about 100 Black men went to the courthouse to make sure that another young Black man didn’t swing from a rope. Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo.

Remember Mr. Man from Rosewood? He was real.
Remember Mr. Man from Rosewood? He was real.

Rosewood Florida: The tragedy of Rosewood was much like Tulsa and countless other towns. It began with allegations of rape and ended with the destruction of an entire town. During these situations, law enforcement either stood aside or joined in.

People fought back as they retreated into the swamps, but one story stood out. Samuel Carrier aka Mr. Man. His tale was alluded to in the movie Rosewood, but his real life was more epic. And more tragic.

New Orleans, post Hurricane Katrina: This last one are for those people who feel compelled to shout, “That was soooooo long ago.” There are no heroes here. Sorry. But if you think that something like Rosewood or Tulsa couldn’t happen again, you’re kind of wrong.

Photo of survivor
Photo of survivor

Hidden amidst the survival stories of Hurricane Katrina, there were stories of roving mobs of men and women who shot Black men and women indiscriminately. They went by names like the Militia of Algiers, and as far fetched as they sound, there are video of them bragging about it. Add to that stories of police killings, and it is clear that the rising water wasn’t the only threat.

The British are gone. That doesn’t mean that there is no longer a threat. The top three stories clearly illustrate that the Red Coats weren’t the only Tyrants in America. Depending on the color of your skin or other things such as union or political affiliation, the threat remained well into the 50’s and 60’s. As the stories that emerged from New Orleans demonstrate, in some, very rare circumstances, it’s still here.

 

Queens Shoot Too: Featuring Taj from ATL, a Shotgun and a Frost White Caddy

Taj Anwar of Atlanta, was introduced to firearms early in life. Since then she's done almost everything right; she is licensed to carry, she knows her weapons and she regularly practices.
Taj Anwar of Atlanta, was introduced to firearms early in life. Since then she’s done almost everything right; she is licensed to carry, she knows her weapons and she regularly practices.

Q: What is your earliest memory of firearms?

A: My father put a gun in my hand when I was 10. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t afraid of weapons.

Q: Where there guns in your home when you grew up?

A: Yes. Both of my parents and step parents are licensed to carry.

Q: What was your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

A: That they’re tools to be used only when necessary to protect you and yours.

Q: What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

A: I was never afraid of guns. The only fear I had was having a gun in my reach and not knowing how to use it. All the reason why I’ve trained on different pieces over the years.

Q: Briefly describe your first time shooting a gun.
A: I was 10. It was a revolver.

Q: Do you currently own a firearm? Why?
A: I own several. Like I explained earlier, they’re for protection only. I do like to train as a hobby, though.

Q: How often do you go to the range, and what is your attitude towards training?
A: I go to the range at least once a month. Training is essential to know how to use what you have. I also think training on how to disarm someone is key too.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who had expressed interest in firearms.
A: Do the research, get licensed and get trained.

Q: What aspects of the shooting lifestyle do you have questions about, if an?
A: None

Q: What skills do you think each gun owner should know.
A: How to break down your gun and clean it, and put it back together. You should know your gun inside and out, up and down.

#WeHaveShotBack: The Story of that Low Down Larry Davis

This was Larry Davis. In 1984 he was involved in a shootout with nine cops in his sister's Bronx apartment. He escaped the apartment and then escaped conviction on the grounds of Self Defense.
This was Larry Davis. In 1984 he was involved in a shootout with nine cops in his sister’s Bronx apartment. He escaped the apartment and then escaped conviction on the grounds of Self Defense.

Let’s get one thing straight. Larry Davis was not a good guy.

If you believe the charges against him, he killed four rival drug dealers in the Bronx, and another up in Harlem. He was finally put in jail for weapons charges and murdering another dealer by shooting through a crack house door. These crimes took place before he was 20.

Like I said, he wasn’t a good dude. And, Spoiler Alert: He died like a lot of bad guys die, with a shiv in the gut in a prison cell upstate as he served a 20 to life sentence.

So why the hell would I write about him, especially in the context of self-defense? Because his case proves that even if you are a low down, dirty rotten dealer, you have the right to defend your wretched life. Even against the police.

There are different stories as to what led up to the notorious shooting in his sister’s apartment in the Bronx. The police said that they were tracking him down in connection with the killings of the four Bronx dealers. Davis said that he had been brought into a life of crime by the very police that were now tracking him down. And they were coming not to put him behind bars, but to silence him.

Although it might sound far-fetched, rumors of the police colluding with drug dealers are nothing new, and persist to this day. Also, the police had allegedly told his mother that when they found him, they would kill him.

At about 8:30 p.m. nine officers stormed the three-room apartment of Davis’s sister Regina Lewis. Davis, his girlfriend, his sister, her husband and their four children were all there. Two of her infants were sleeping in a back room.

When she was interviewed the following day, his sister said that she answered a knock, and then the police stormed the living room with guns drawn. They told the adults to get the children and go, and then they shouted to Davis, “Come out, Larry, you don’t have a chance – we’ve got you surrounded.”

Nobody was sure who fired first, but Davis began shooting a sawed off, sixteen gauge shotgun and a 45 caliber pistol from a dark bedroom.

Larry-DavisSeven of the police were injured in the barrage, two seriously. They returned fire as they retreated, but Davis took advantage of the confusion and slipped out of his sister’s window, leaving behind a .32 revolver and a .357 magnum. Miraculously, the infants that were sleeping the back room weren’t hit.

After one of the largest man hunts in New York’s history, Davis was apprehended in a Bronx housing project. After taking a woman and her two daughters hostage (I told you he was a dirtbag) he finally surrendered to the police and was taken into custody.

The jury deliberated five days. Though he was found guilty of six counts of criminal possession of a weapon, he was acquitted of attempted murder and aggravated assault charges in the shootings of the officers. The jury foreman had this to say in a later interview. “[Davis was] a young and innocent kid who got recruited by a few corrupt policemen… they came in to wipe him out… they wanted him dead so he couldn’t squeal on them… they would have killed him.”

A year later, three of the wounded officers accused the NYPD of “negligent” and “reckless” planning and execution of the raid, and blamed the Bronx detectives for creating “chaos” by bursting into the apartment before Emergency Service Unit officers could seal off escape routes.

What’s the point? I remember a discussion about the Charleston shooting, when someone said, “If someone had been there and managed to shoot him before he shot those people, then they would have gone to jail for it.” That depends on a whole lot of things that are beyond the scope of this post.

But you absolutely have a right to defend yourself.

 

We Have Shot Back! William Parker and the Christiana Uprising. #WeWillShootBack

Every once in a while, some obvious shit makes the headlines.

Earlier this week the hashtag, #WeWillShootBack was sprung on twitter, where it caught fire. It was inspired by Dylan Roof and nine innocent dead victims of old-fashioned terrorism. If you haven’t heard the story by now, I envy you.
White man comes into a Church. White man prays with the congregation. White man has a moment of hesitation, because of the love that he felt from said congregation. Then he lines them up and slaughters them.

There are those who said that this wasn’t an attack on Blackness. Rather, it was a strike against the Christian faith. Well, not only is Dylann Roof a devout Christian, but he was also kind enough to write a racist manifesto. He even wore patches from white supremacist groups associated with South African Apartheid. He is a connoisseur of hatred, and he wanted to create a race war.

Since then, seven churches have burned, most of which were blamed on arson. Then there was the copycat in Richmond Virginia. He knocked on the windows of a Black Church, promising to kill them. Check the video.

Nine dead, promises to kill more, and seven churches burned. #WeWillShootBack should be the least controversial hashtag, right up there with #ILikeLiving.

But just so you know that you are in good company, here are a handful of instances when Black people actually did shoot back.

Contemporary depiction of the Christiana Uprising.
Contemporary depiction of the Christiana Uprising.

Remember the Christiana Uprising:

Christiana Pa. 1851. An escaped slave named William Parker risked his life in a gun battle to protect people who had escaped slavery from their former captors.

Parker had settled in Pennsylvania close to its border with Maryland. He was an old friend of Frederick Douglas (knew him from the days when they were both slaves in Maryland) and now he was a front-line soldier in the Underground Railroad.

He was harboring men and women who had escaped from slavery when their former captor Edward Gorsuch  rolled onto his property with a gaggle of relatives and government marshals in search of his “property”.

Parker was a hardened fighter. He had already confronted other kidnappers, shot at and been shot in order to protect the free. This time he knew that they were coming. When Gorsuch arrived, papers of ownership in hand, he was met by an army of between 50 and 100 men.

Gorsuch said, “I will have my slaves, or perish!” And not surprisingly, he didn’t live through the day. Parker and his men shot the slave catchers down.

After a battle that filled the small farm with thick gun smoke, Gorsuch lay dead, a couple of his men were badly wounded and Parker had fled to Canada with a couple of his compatriots and the men and women who had escaped slavery on Gorsuch’s plantation, and federal marshals hot on their trail.

On their last morning in the United States, moments after they had snuck to the ferry that would take them to the freedom of Canada, Parker gave Frederick Douglas the revolver that Gorsuch was holding when he died.

We reached the boat without remark or molestation. I remained on board till the order to haul the gangplank was given.

I shook hands with my friends and received from Parker the revolver that fell from the hand of Gorsuch when he died, presented now as a token of gratitude and memento from the battle for liberty at Christiana.

Frederick Douglas

I wonder what Douglas would say about the hand wringing and nervous talk, whenever there is discussion of us defending our own, comes up.

Parker didn’t try to appeal to the slave master’s humanity. When the slave owner knocked at his door, holding a piece of paper that he believed to be worth several lives, there was no hastily convened prayer circle. They grabbed their guns and returned fire.