I was reminded of that history this morning as I read that the chairman of the New Black Panther Party, Hashim Nzinga, told the Reuters news agency that members of his group will carry guns for self-defense when they travel to Cleveland to protest at the Republican National Convention next week:
“If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our second amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us. If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and the others who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”
Ohio officials have confirmed that it will be legal for demonstrators to carry firearms outside the convention. And while the Secret Service will not allow attendees to bring their guns inside the convention itself, the killing of five police officers in Dallas last week has understandably intensified worries about what will happen when gun-toting demonstrators and counter demonstrators descend on Cleveland.
According to the New York Times:
Ohio’s open-carry laws mean that those who legally own guns can take them into the 1.7-square-mile area where many of the events and protests connected to the Republican convention will be held next week. Beginning Sunday, protesters are expected to flood into the city, with causes ranging from white supremacy to Palestinian rights.
“Obviously, everybody is on edge after Dallas,” Brian Kazy, a member of the Cleveland City Council and its Safety Committee, said in an interview Sunday evening.
There has been speculation about what it will take for the United States to get serious about gun control. As I pointed out a year ago, not the mass killing of schoolchildren, nor Bible study participants, nor moviegoers, nor Marine recruiting officers made any kind of difference. Add to that ugly toll the victims of ISIS-sympathizing terrorists in San Bernardino and Orlando, as well as the five cops in Dallas.
Still nothing changes.
But if we are turning back the clock to the turmoils and mistakes of the late 1960s, as some have suggested, then maybe it will once again be the sight of armed African Americans demanding their rights that will finally be the catalyst for a return to meaningful national gun control.
After all, it was fear of armed blacks that motivated the Ku Klux Klan to seize guns from freedmen in 1866 and Ronald Reagan and California Republicans to call for sweeping gun control legislation 101 years later.
Wouldn’t it be ironic.