Yesterday, we briefly touched on the fact that in addition to
reaffirming his wish to ban so-called "assault weapons," President
Obama blames the out of control violence in Chicago on "cheap handguns."
From Tuesday night's presidential debate (transcript by ABC News):
Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago,
there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s.
They’re using cheap hand guns.
Granted, Obama was short on detail about what he proposes to do
about the scourge of "cheap handgun" violence, but if his solution
to "assault weapon violence" (which even he admits comprises a
vanishingly small percentage of the violence) is an outright ban
of "assault weapons," it becomes easy to imagine that he would
favor a similar "solution" for "cheap handgun violence."
This approach, of course, would be far from new.
Some of the very first "gun control" laws in the U.S. sought to disarm the poor
in the Reconstruction Era South, as an ostensibly "race neutral"
effort to disarm Blacks. Tennessee's "Army Navy law," of 1879:
Among these laws, the forerunners of so-called "Saturday Night Special"
legislation, was Tennessee's "Army and Navy" law (1879), which
prohibited the sale of any "belt or pocket pistols, or revolvers,
or any other kind of pistols, except army or navy pistol" models,
among the most expensive, and largest, handguns of the day.
(Such as the Colt Model 1860 Army, Model 1851 Navy, and
Model 1861 Navy percussion cap revolvers, or
Model 1873 Single-Action Army revolver.)
The law thus prohibited small two-shot derringers and low-caliber
rimfire revolvers, the handguns that most Blacks could afford.
Even more offensive:
After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution in 1878, most States turned to “facially neutral”
business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases.
However, the intention of these laws was not neutral.
An article in Virginia’s official university law review
called for a “prohibitive tax … on the privilege”
of selling handguns as a way of disarming “the son of Ham”,
whose “cowardly practice of ‘toting’ guns has been one of the most
fruitful sources of crime … .Let a negro board a railroad train with
a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are
that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights.”
[Comment, Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92 (1909
George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Vol. 2,
No. 1, “Gun Control and Racism,” Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75]
Thus, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned
inexpensive guns so as to price blacks and poor whites out of the gun market.
Nearly a century later, similar motivation was apparent in the Gun
Control Act of 1968, with its ban on the importation of "Saturday
Night Specials" (itself a racist term for--you guessed it--"cheap handguns").
[Historically, the original characterization of the crude, unstable,
cheap handguns was: "Niggertown Saturday Night Specials." David]
Roy Innis, of the Congress of Racial Equality, puts it this way:
To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say
that you're putting a money test on getting a gun. It's racism in its worst form.
The intent here is not necessarily to charge Obama with racial prejudice
against African-Americans, although one cannot help but wonder
about his administration's claims that voter ID laws are "racist,"
because ethnic minorities, disproportionately affected by poverty,
are supposedly disenfranchised by the requirement to acquire
official identification. With the Supreme Court, after all, having
ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right
of the people, and if the nominal cost of photo ID is an illegal
imposition on the right to vote, how can banning "cheap handguns"
be anything but an imposition on the Constitutionally guaranteed,
fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms?
Still, racial issues aside, a president with a well known, long
established proclivity for "gun control," who now seems willing to
impose such control by making firearms too expensive to own, could
be said to have an incentive to govern in such a way as to foster a
moribund economy that renders vast numbers of Americans of all
races too poor to defend themselves