‘Idaho Statesman’ Claims Firearm Carry Laws Rooted in Racism

AP Photo/Al Behrman
AP Photo/Al Behrman

On March 8 the Idaho Statesman publish an opinion article by a College of Western Idaho history instructor claiming the history of firearm carry laws are based on racism.

The article claims that laws regulating the carrying of firearms in the South were passed by Democrats seeking to disarm blacks and that similar laws were passed in the West to disarm Chinese immigrants.

According to the Statesman article:

Florida’s law regulating the carrying of guns passed in the 1890s. …The Florida Supreme Court decision Watson v. Stone (1941), [shows it] was passed to disarm blacks and gives whites a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population.

And indeed, in the majority opinion for Stone, Justice Rivers H. Buford wrote:

The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in the turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security.

The Statesman article claims this same type of racism was behind firearm carry laws in California by tracing that state’s “current concealed weapon permit law” to carry regulations passed in 1923. The regulations in 1923 were passed to “disarm Chinese and [Hispanic]” immigrants.

The author claims concealed carry in California still contains the vestiges of these racist beginnings inasmuch as permits to carry are only issued to persons whom the state deems suitable. The article claims that concealed carry for self-defense, while legal, is very rare, and that permits are normally only issued to large political donors or “people with political influence.”

The Idaho Statesman article comes as Idaho lawmakers consider abolishing that state’s concealed carry permit requirement.

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