“A man with a rifle or a club can only be stopped by a person who defends himself with a rifle or club. That’s equality….” This quote by Malcolm x became one of the strongest pillars of black empowerment in the mid-1900s. As a black man living in the United States, Malcolm experienced police brutality and racism at its peak. The injustices which were prevalent by the white supremacists on the black community led Malcolm to advocate for the black race in the United States at that time to arm and protect themselves against any intending aggressor by “any means necessary.” Much of his claims on black empowerment and protection rested on his beliefs in equal gun rights irrespective of race and the second amendment of the US constitution which was made in 1791.
Who is Malcolm x?
Malcolm x was born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was an African American minister and Muslim who spoke against racial discrimination, the injustices in the black communities, and fought for black rights. He particularly advised blacks in every part of the US to pick up rifles and shotguns so they could protect themselves whenever they were in danger. He made various quotes to back up this claim including the famous quote where he stated that “Anyone that puts his hands on you, do your best to see that he doesn’t put it on anybody else.” His teachings and philosophies garnered him a lot of enemies across different spheres which subsequently led to his assassination in February 1965.
What is the Second Amendment about?
The second amendment to the United States Constitution was made in 1791. This amendment was the strongest driving force of the black struggle for equal rights to gun ownership. One of the ten amendments to the Constitution comprising the Bill of Rights, states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This part of the second amendment served as a background for many black human rights activists including Malcolm x who fought for black equality to gun rights to build upon.
What was Malcolm’s take on the Second Amendment?
The part of the second amendment that stated the rights of citizens of the country keep and bear arms was the main concern of Malcolm. According to him, whites had been owning guns for years and no one flinched. Now the blacks are starting to get theirs and suddenly it’s a problem. This gun inequality coupled with racism which prevailed after the second world war in the US was a big problem that needed to be resolved according to Malcolm x. Since the government and police wouldn’t try to find a solution to this problem that was eating deep into the roots of America, Malcolm encouraged his black brothers and sisters to arm themselves with rifles and shotguns. After all, it was legal to do such according to the second amendment of 1791. Malcolm’s avocations were conceived by white supremacists as a call for some sort of uprising and tension of the black communities against the whites. This sparked the beginning of the hatred many white supremacists had for him.
Malcolm’s philosophy on Gun control and Defense.
While speaking on “Gun control and Self defense”, Malcolm x advocated that “NEGROES” should learn Karate and Judo as a result of the injustice and discrimination they were facing. In 1929, the Illinois Association for Criminal Justice published the Illinois Crime Survey conducted between 1927 and 1928. Although blacks made up just five percent of the area’s populace, they constituted 30 percent of the victims of police killings. Killings and police brutality against the black community fueled Malcolm’s rage and speeches. If you are a black man or woman living in America today and you have access to a rifle, handgun, or shotgun, that possession was made possible by the likes of Malcolm x who fought that the gun rights stated in the second amendment were not to be enjoyed by the white man alone.
One of Malcolm’s most influential speeches was the “Ballot or Bullet” speech which he delivered in 1964. According to him, seeing as it was an election year, he urged the African Americans to vote rightly and he then explained that the white majority in government offices and positions had to eliminate the problem of racial discrimination and brutality as if this problem continues to exist, the blacks will be forced to pick up arms in a bid to protect themselves.
The iconic photo of Malcolm x standing and holding a rifle while peeking through the window of his home speaks volumes in the hearts of the black populace in America. Due to his influence and support for firearm ownership in black communities, his activities were closely watched by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and Malcolm knew this. In fact, in the opening sentence of his “Ballot or Bullet speech” in 1964, Malcolm acknowledged the presence of “enemies” in the crowd.
If you hit your target at the range and feel good with yourself, remember that experience was made possible because a man named Malcolm took it upon himself to preach an idea of defense and protection by any means necessary. Though there are different perspectives on the teachings and dictates of Malcolm x, his influence across the black community and America as a whole can not be underplayed.
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