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Mementos Reveal Civil Rights Icon's Exposure to Armed Self-Defense

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mementos Reveal Civil Rights Icon's Exposure to Armed Self-Defense

On Wednesday, the Library of Congress made the Rosa Parks Collection available to researchers. The compilation includes 2,500 photos and 7,500 manuscripts pertaining to the civil rights icon. Among these documents is a short autobiographical piece highlighting some of Parks’ early experiences with armed self-defense.

A February 3 Washington Post article details the “biographical sketch.” According to the Post, Parks explains how her grandfather used a shotgun to protect the family home in Pine Level, Ala., from potential attack by the Ku Klux Klan. One excerpt states that her grandfather “would stay up to wait for [the Klansmen] to come to our house… He kept his shotgun within hand reach at all times.” Another portion notes that Parks’ grandfather “declared that the first to invade our home would surely die.”

Stories like Parks’, where firearms were used to protect against racially motivated violence before and during the Civil Rights Era, are common. At a time when law enforcement officials were sometimes indifferent to acts of violence perpetrated against African-Americans (or in some cases even complicit in them), those seeking any protection at all had few other options.

History could certainly have been altered in dramatic fashion had the Parks home been left undefended against the depredations of the Klan. Thankfully, Parks’ family had access to an effective means of self-defense, even as they strove to obtain other basic human rights.

Examples abound of the beneficial role arms have played in the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. Local NAACP leader Rob Williams, author of Negroes with Guns, notably chartered a National Rifle Association affiliated club in order to train and arm members of his Monroe, N.C., community to combat the Klan. Chapters of the heavily armed Deacons for Defense and Justice formed throughout the Deep South to protect their communities from racial violence. According to UCLA Professor Adam Winkler, Martin Luther King Jr. unsuccessfully applied for concealed carry permit in Alabama after his home was bombed, and lived surrounded by what was described as “an arsenal.” In his book, Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, Don B. Kates Jr. recalls his time spent as a civil rights worker in the early 1960s South, stating, "The black lawyer for whom I principally worked did not carry a gun all the time, but he attributed the relative quiescence of the Klan to the fact that the black community was so heavily armed.”

The story of armed self-defense revealed in the Rosa Parks Collection is a welcome and important addition to the already well-established history of the use of arms to deter and defend against racially-motivated violence.

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Maine: Firearm Seizure Bill Heads To Judiciary Committee

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Maine: Firearm Seizure Bill Heads To Judiciary Committee

On April 22nd, the Maine Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Legislative Document 1312, which would allow for firearms to be seized and Second Amendment rights to be suspended without due process. 

California: DOJ Issues “Notice of Modification” to Proposed Ammunition Background Check Regulations

Thursday, April 18, 2019

California: DOJ Issues “Notice of Modification” to Proposed Ammunition Background Check Regulations

Today, the California Department of Justice issued a “Notice of Modification” to their proposed regulations regarding the soon to be implemented ammunition background check procedures. As a result of these changes, a second 15-day public ...

Idaho: Governor Signs Important Self-Defense Legislation into Law

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Idaho: Governor Signs Important Self-Defense Legislation into Law

Yesterday, Governor Brad Little signed important self-defense legislation, House Bill 206, into law.

NRA Statement on New York City's Desperate Attempt to Avoid Supreme Court Review

News  

Friday, April 12, 2019

NRA Statement on New York City's Desperate Attempt to Avoid Supreme Court Review

NRA reacts to New York City's attempt to avoid having the NRA-supported Supreme Court case N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association, et al. v. City of N.Y., et al heard in DC. 

Another Day, Another Hearing with Anti-Gun Democrats Grandstanding on Firearms

News  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Another Day, Another Hearing with Anti-Gun Democrats Grandstanding on Firearms

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing it called, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis.” If you are wondering what that could ...

Swiss to Vote on Implementation of EU Gun Controls

News  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Swiss to Vote on Implementation of EU Gun Controls

On May 19, Swiss citizens will go to the polls to vote in a referendum that will determine whether the peaceful mountain nation will acquiesce to the mandates of the European Firearms Directive. The Swiss have a proud ...

Texas: House to Consider Reform Measure Protecting the Right-to-Carry During Emergencies

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Texas: House to Consider Reform Measure Protecting the Right-to-Carry During Emergencies

Tomorrow, the Texas House is scheduled to vote on House Bill 1177, NRA-backed legislation sponsored by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), which protects citizens from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun without a License To ...

Get the Hect Outta Here: Police Chief Suspended After Students Complain About Pro-Gun "Likes"

News  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Get the Hect Outta Here: Police Chief Suspended After Students Complain About Pro-Gun "Likes"

Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges are two liberal arts institutions for women in the western part of Massachusetts. Both share a campus police department that until recently was overseen by Chief Daniel Hect, who took command ...

Oregon: Gun Control Package Sent To Another Committee

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Oregon: Gun Control Package Sent To Another Committee

Thanks to NRA members and Second Amendment supporters who contacted their state Senators in opposition, Senate Bill 978 has been sent to the Oregon Senate Committee on Rules instead of directly to the Senate floor ...

Canadian Senate Committee Rejects Handgun Ban Amendment; Issues Bill C-71 Report

News  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Canadian Senate Committee Rejects Handgun Ban Amendment; Issues Bill C-71 Report

Early this week, Canada’s Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (SECD) met to review and vote on Bill C-71, the Liberal Government’s gun control measure, section by section. This review follows several days of testimony ...

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.