I doubt this is what today’s open-carry advocates had in mind: The Huey P. Newton Gun Club

If you read this site, you know that, generally speaking, I believe today’s so-called open carry advocates to be lunatics. With that said, though, I have to confess that I love the idea of black folks reappropriating what, over the past few years, has been almost exclusively a white, conservative movement, and taking it back to the streets of urban America, as just happened a few days ago in Dallas, Texas, where approximately two dozen armed black men and women marched under the banner of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.

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Here’s their initial press release, issued August 17.

The recent murders of unarmed black, brown, and whites across the United States of America has eradicated trust in the police. Individuals across this nation have been stripped of due process, subjected to state-sponsored police terrorism, and continue to suffer the fate of being terminated extra-judicially.

In Dallas the police have murdered over 70 unarmed individuals, most of the black and brown men, over the last ten years. Excluding a recent incident where police testimony was contradicted by surveillance footage, there have been no indictments since 1973.

The people, who are gunned down and murdered by violent and militarized police forces, have formed the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, for the specific purpose of self defense and community policing.

In response, Black and Brown residents of the City of Dallas will conduct the first of an ongoing and necessary armed self defense patrols through our communities in the coming week.

We, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, hereby put forth the following non-negotiable demands and promote these conditions for the protection of our communities:

1. We demand the immediate end to police brutality, harassment, and murder of the people.

2. We assert the right of the people, particularly those of color, to bear arms and protect themselves where local, state, and the federal government have historically failed to do so.

3. We demand that the media, in coordination with police, cease immediately assassinating the character of victims subject to police terrorism.

Huey P. Newton, of course, was the co-founder, along with Bobby Seale, of the Black Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which later became known as the Black Panther Party. And, judging from this video from Dallas, it would appear as though the connection to the Panthers runs deeper than just the association with Newton.

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Here, for those of you who perhaps weren’t aware of the history, is a clip from the Atlantic on the the black militant history with relation to open carry in America.

…Opposition to gun control was what drove the black militants to visit the California capitol with loaded weapons in hand. The Black Panther Party had been formed six months earlier, in Oakland, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Like many young African Americans, Newton and Seale were frustrated with the failed promise of the civil-rights movement. Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were legal landmarks, but they had yet to deliver equal opportunity. In Newton and Seale’s view, the only tangible outcome of the civil-rights movement had been more violence and oppression, much of it committed by the very entity meant to protect and serve the public: the police.

Inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X, Newton and Seale decided to fight back. Before he was assassinated in 1965, Malcolm X had preached against Martin Luther King Jr.’s brand of nonviolent resistance. Because the government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, he said, they had to defend themselves “by whatever means necessary.” Malcolm X illustrated the idea for Ebony magazine by posing for photographs in suit and tie, peering out a window with an M-1 carbine semiautomatic in hand. Malcolm X and the Panthers described their right to use guns in self-defense in constitutional terms. “Article number two of the constitutional amendments,” Malcolm X argued, “provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun.”

Guns became central to the Panthers’ identity, as they taught their early recruits that “the gun is the only thing that will free us—gain us our liberation.” They bought some of their first guns with earnings from selling copies of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book to students at the University of California at Berkeley. In time, the Panther arsenal included machine guns; an assortment of rifles, handguns, explosives, and grenade launchers; and “boxes and boxes of ammunition,” recalled Elaine Brown, one of the party’s first female members, in her 1992 memoir. Some of this matériel came from the federal government: one member claimed he had connections at Camp Pendleton, in Southern California, who would sell the Panthers anything for the right price. One Panther bragged that, if they wanted, they could have bought an M48 tank and driven it right up the freeway.

Along with providing classes on black nationalism and socialism, Newton made sure recruits learned how to clean, handle, and shoot guns. Their instructors were sympathetic black veterans, recently home from Vietnam. For their “righteous revolutionary struggle,” the Panthers were trained, as well as armed, however indirectly, by the U.S. government.

Civil-rights activists, even those committed to nonviolent resistance, had long appreciated the value of guns for self-protection. Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in 1956, after his house was bombed. His application was denied, but from then on, armed supporters guarded his home. One adviser, Glenn Smiley, described the King home as “an arsenal.” William Worthy, a black reporter who covered the civil-rights movement, almost sat on a loaded gun in a living-room armchair during a visit to King’s parsonage.

The Panthers, however, took it to an extreme, carrying their guns in public, displaying them for everyone—especially the police—to see. Newton had discovered, during classes at San Francisco Law School, that California law allowed people to carry guns in public so long as they were visible, and not pointed at anyone in a threatening way.

In February of 1967, Oakland police officers stopped a car carrying Newton, Seale, and several other Panthers with rifles and handguns. When one officer asked to see one of the guns, Newton refused. “I don’t have to give you anything but my identification, name, and address,” he insisted. This, too, he had learned in law school.

“Who in the hell do you think you are?” an officer responded.

“Who in the hell do you think you are?,” Newton replied indignantly. He told the officer that he and his friends had a legal right to have their firearms.

Newton got out of the car, still holding his rifle.

“What are you going to do with that gun?” asked one of the stunned policemen.

“What are you going to do with your gun?,” Newton replied.

By this time, the scene had drawn a crowd of onlookers. An officer told the bystanders to move on, but Newton shouted at them to stay. California law, he yelled, gave civilians a right to observe a police officer making an arrest, so long as they didn’t interfere. Newton played it up for the crowd. In a loud voice, he told the police officers, “If you try to shoot at me or if you try to take this gun, I’m going to shoot back at you, swine.” Although normally a black man with Newton’s attitude would quickly find himself handcuffed in the back of a police car, enough people had gathered on the street to discourage the officers from doing anything rash. Because they hadn’t committed any crime, the Panthers were allowed to go on their way.

The people who’d witnessed the scene were dumbstruck. Not even Bobby Seale could believe it. Right then, he said, he knew that Newton was the “baddest motherfucker in the world.” Newton’s message was clear: “The gun is where it’s at and about and in.” After the February incident, the Panthers began a regular practice of policing the police. Thanks to an army of new recruits inspired to join up when they heard about Newton’s bravado, groups of armed Panthers would drive around following police cars. When the police stopped a black person, the Panthers would stand off to the side and shout out legal advice…

And that’s pretty much when white conservatives, like California Governor Ronald Reagan, got on the gun control bandwagon. (Reagan told reporters he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.”) As much as folks on the right loved guns, it seems, there was a line that couldn’t be crossed. And that was the one being draw by Newton, which called for the arming of America’s black underclass.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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14 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    It’s probably worth a mention that Newton was shot to death.

  2. Eel
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    My sense is that black open carry won’t be as well received.

  3. idea man
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    We have to arrange for the Huey P. Newton Gun Club to be at Art Fair next year.

  4. K2
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The Huey Lewis Axe Club is better.

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/2f27246d7610dbfc44b9cca2880034fe/tumblr_n2ubpwyJ7R1qgj5zoo1_500.jpg

  5. EOS
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    MLK would not have had such significant support without Malcom X and the Black Panther Party.

  6. Posted August 26, 2014 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    I dislike guns greatly, but I know a lot of people who are pretty serious about gun rights who would completely support the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.

  7. BrianB
    Posted August 26, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Helter Skelter!

  8. alan2102
    Posted August 26, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Here, for those of you who perhaps weren’t aware of the history…

    [links are a few years old but probably still good; if not, go archive.org]

    http://www.constitution.org/cmt/cramer/racist_roots.htm
    The Racist Roots of Gun Control

    http://freebooksdb.com/pdf/bgun-b-control-white-mans-law-9880602.html
    Gun Control: White Man’s Law

    http://www.guncite.com/journals/economic.html
    Gun Control And Economic Discrimination: The Melting Point Case In Point

    http://www.saf.org/journal/7/BOBCOT12-31-07.pdf
    The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration

    http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/Tahmassebi1.html
    Gun Control and Racism
    

  9. Diana Gonzalez
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    If you haven’t seen this “Funny-or-die” video, it’s hilarious, “let’s shoot each other some love”: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/f876edd60c/black-nra

  10. anonymous
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Open Cary while Black should not be attempted in Detroit.

    http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/archives/2014/09/17/black-open-carry-advocate-arrested-in-detroit-rally-sunday

  11. Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    And if you’re black, you shouldn’t shop for a toy gun in Walmart: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/john-crawford-killed-walm_n_5721676.html

  12. Eel
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m getting the sense that, if you’re black, you should probably just stay home.

  13. James Parker
    Posted January 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know of any open carry advocates (or unrestricted concealed carry advocates) who would oppose this, and I know a lot of them. The only folks I know that would oppose it are those in, and supporter of, government control, although I would guess there are some white supremacists who would oppose it as well.

  14. anonymous
    Posted May 16, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    A test.

    How Police Treat Black Man vs. White Man With Open Carry Law.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5YAdxto3wo

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