This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Barack Obama was inaugurated using MLK’s Bible. Likewise, there’s plenty of rhetoric in the media about how his presidency and second inauguration “honors Dr. King’s legacy.” Like so much other hype in the media, this could hardly be farther from the truth—especially when it comes to Obama’s gun control proposals.
As just one example, unlike King who was against the Vietnam War, Obama’s illegal drone strikes have murdered well over 8 times more children in Pakistan and Yemen alone than were killed in the Sandy Hook Massacre. And while the president responds to that school shooting by proposing universal background checks, it was laws like this that actually worked against the late civil rights leader.
On January 30, 1956, King’s home was bombed while he spoke at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Upon learning the news, he rushed home to find his home surrounded by white cops and angry blacks carrying firearms. After rushing inside to find out his family was okay, King came outside and said to the crowd, “Don’t do anything panicky. Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said.”
King likely realized that Jesus also told his apostles, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Just like Christ advised his disciples during his ministry, King’s pacifist stance pertained to the Civil Rights Movement only and was not an absolute rule, as King made clear when he addressed the matter in the second chapter of Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community:
Finally, I contended that the debate over the question of self-defense was unnecessary since few people suggested that Negroes should not defend themselves as individuals when attacked. The question was not whether one should use his gun when his home was attacked, but whether it was tactically wise to use a gun while participating in an organized demonstration. If they lowered the banner of nonviolence, I said, Mississippi injustice would not be exposed and the moral issues would be obscured.
What makes the point even clearer — the dirty little secret that Obama and the anti-gun lobby try to mask over — were King’s own actions that he took privately regarding firearms. Many may think that King was a complete pacifist that abhorred the ownership of firearms—quite the contrary.
In fact, King applied for a license to carry a concealed firearm soon after the bombing of his home. The Montgomery Police Department had the final say on whether to issue these permits though. As might be expected in the South, which was still under Jim Crow laws at the time, King’s application was denied. That does not mean that King went unarmed though.
Months after the bombing of King’s home, Baltimore Afro-American reporter William Worthy remarked that he went to sit down on a chair in King’s house and almost sat on a loaded gun. Additionally, Rev. Glenn Smiley, a white civil rights activist who visited King and advised him on the tactic of non-violence in protests, is well known to have described King’s home as an “arsenal.” It’s also a well-known fact that King, who was the target of frequent death threats, often had his house guarded by armed supporters.
You would think that one of King’s most prominent protégés would know better. However, Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition joined in on MLK Day 2013 to completely contradict King’s legacy. At the site of a future Wal-Mart in Southfield, Michigan, Jackson’s group sponsored a protest entitled “Jobs In, Guns Out” aimed at convincing the City of Southfield to demand that guns and ammunition not be sold at the new store.
It’s time that today’s so-called civil rights leaders come clean on the real facts about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and stop falsely injecting race into the Second Amendment issue. Just like Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of that city bus, Jackson, Obama and the other anti-gun propagandists need to realize that there are plenty of gun owners both white and black who aren’t buying it—and who will not give up their guns.