ACLU Excoriated for Claiming Racism ‘Foundational’ to Second Amendment — ‘Embarrassment to Your Own History’

US bill of rights

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) faced an online backlash Sunday after publicizing claims racism is “foundational” to the Second Amendment and its inclusion in the Bill of Rights. Critics  accused the civil rights group of spreading misinformation and abandoning its own founding principles.

In a recent ACLU “At Liberty” podcast episode, historian Carol Anderson, a professor of African American Studies at Emory University, explained how “anti-blackness” determined the decision to include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights and informed its “unequal and racist enforcement over the last several hundred years.”

The episode, whose introductory page bears the title, “Do Black Americans Have the Right to Bear Arms?” and states that, “Anti-Blackness determined the inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and has informed the unequal and racist application of gun laws,” blames “unequal enforcement of gun laws” on “intrinsic anti-blackness.” 

In the episode, Anderson continues to highlight the alleged racism inherent in the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment.

“Sitting in our bill of rights is the right to control black people, is the right to destroy the rights of black people and that is so fundamentally just inherently wrong,” Anderson said.

“The anti-blackness that is embedded in the Second Amendment, this right to a well regulated militia for the security of the state, is in fact part of the compromise that emboldened the white supremacists,” she added, adding that America has always been “willing to sacrifice its black population for this kind of larger good.”

In addition, Anderson claimed that America’s lack of “viable gun safety laws” is due to “the power of anti-blackness.”

In response, many took to Twitter to criticize both the ACLU and Anderson, with many noting that — if anything — it is gun control which is actually racist.

Look at what the ACLU has become,” wrote radio host Jason Rantz.

“Yes, throughout American history white, racist Democrats opposed free citizens’s right to bear arms because of skin color,” wrote radio host and former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA) Dana Loesch. 

The ACLU has completely lost the plot,” wrote columnist Jeff Jacoby. 

“Meanwhile, the National African American Gun Association, which began in 2015 with a single chapter in Atlanta, now comprises more than 75 chapters with 30,000 members,” he added.

This is a lie and has been long debunked,” wrote columnist Nicholas Fondacaro.

The ACLU’s attack on the US constitution is not shocking, but incredibly sad,” wrote author Helen Raleigh. 

“So there’s a 58% increase in black ppl in the US buying firearms & the @ACLU wants us to believe the gun laws were spawned from racism?” asked Antonia Okafor, founder and president of EMPOWERED, a nonprofit group designed to educate, train and equip young women in the use of firearms.

“Classic racist, gun control tactics,” she added.

Last time I checked … the new face of gun ownership in America is nonwhite and female,” wrote journalist Matt Vespa. “This is a good comedy segment tho.”

“It’s gun control that’s blatantly racist,” wrote writer Gabriella Hoffman. 

“For instance, mandatory gun insurance proposals mulled today by gun control advocates price out minorities from gun ownership, making ownership conditional on wealth and not 2A rights,” she added. “What a disappointment you’ve become.”

“The slaves in the southern states were *deprived* of their civil rights under the Second Amendment,” wrote journalist Kyle Becker.

“Gun control laws, however, have a lengthy history of racist motivation,” he added. “You really have become a bunch of clueless radical hacks “

The ACLU comes out against a right actually written in the constitution,” wrote blogger Aaron Worthing.

“Btw, it’s about the most fundamental right of all: the right of rebellion, should all the other rights be sufficiently threatened,” he added.

“This is historically false on many levels. And even if it was true, why is the official position of the ACLU to concede that a part of the Bill of Rights was historically exclusionary but this exclusion shouldn’t be challenged?” the Latino Rifle Association tweeted.

“This is clearly a political decision. Disappointing,” the group added.

In another tweet, the group ridiculed painting a right as “racist” just because it can be exercised by racists.

“The ACLU had a good run as a civil rights organization but it’s hard to see it as anything other than a leftist identity group now,” wrote firearms reporter Stephen Gutowski. “They’re even willing to lie about a civil right for cheap likes from their core demo.”

“The recent National African American Gun Association brief at the Supreme Court gets at the absurdity of this argument. Gun-control laws, not the Second Amendment, have a long and very overt history of racism,” he added.

“The KKK led gun control efforts in the 1800s because they wanted to ensure black people didn’t own firearms,” wrote journalist Billy Binion.

“In the 1960s, CA passed gun control legislation aimed at disarming the Black Panthers. It was signed by Ronald Reagan & lobbied for by the *NRA*,” he added. “Gun control is racist.”

“You’re an embarrassment to your own history,” wrote media personality Dan Gainor.

“This is abject nonsense,” wrote columnist and author David Harsanyi. “There is no historical evidence [to] back up this assertion.” 

“Pretty soon the ACLU is going to be arguing for the government’s right to quarter troops in your house,” wrote Kyle Shideler, senior analyst for the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy.

“The ACLU doesn’t deserve to exist anymore,” wrote one Twitter user. “They now actively fight against civil rights.”

“Particularly given the racist roots of gun control, this is a truly astonishing abandonment of the ACLU’s founding principles,” wrote another Twitter user.

@ACLU you’re lying and need to be called on this. #guncontrol is actually racist. You’ve become anti rights bigots. Anti woman too, LGBTQ, & all minorities,” wrote yet another user. 

“Congratulations on your descent,” the user added.

In 2016, Anderson published “White Rage,” which argues that “every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains.”

The episode comes as gun ownership among black Americans is up nearly 60 percent following the record gun sales of 2020, according to a Guardian report.

On Friday, ABC legal analyst Sunny Hostin said on “The View” she believed the Second Amendment “was designed to protect slavery” by empowering local militia groups to “put down slave revolts.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein

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