It is interesting that the 9th Circuit, in its finding for Peruta v San Diego, has ruled that the pro-gun control side did not adequately research history. In that history of law with regard to the defense of Constitutional rights, one must of necessity pay attention to how certain matters were regarded wrongly, as with the Dred Scott Decision. Consider the following excerpt from Dred Scott with my emphasis in bold italics.
The legislation of the States therefore shows, in a manner not to be mistaken, the inferior and subject condition of that race at the time the Constitution was adopted, and long afterwards, throughout the thirteen States by which that instrument was framed; and it is hardly consistent with the respect due to these States, to suppose that they regarded at that time, as fellow-citizens and members of the sovereignty, a class of beings whom they had thus stigmatized; whom, as we are bound, out of respect to the State sovereignties, to assume they had deemed it just and necessary thus to stigmatize, and upon whom they had impressed such deep and enduring marks of inferiority and degradation; or, that when they met in convention to form the Constitution, they looked upon them as a portion of their constituents, or designed to include them in the provisions so carefully inserted for the security and protection of the liberties and rights of their citizens. It cannot be supposed that they intended to secure to them rights, and privileges, and rank, in the new political body throughout the Union, which every one of them denied within the limits of its own dominion. More especially, it cannot be believed that the large slaveholding States regarded them as included in the word citizens, or would have consented to a Constitution which might compel them to receive them in that character from another State. For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police [60 U.S. 393, 417] regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.
Here the text of Dred Scott shows in very clear detail what was expected of citizens and illustrates those rights, privileges and rank throughout the Union, and what the slaveholding states determined to deny the negro race among which is the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
It is therefore an interesting twist to recognize that the restrictions, heretofore applied in the State of California are explicitly those which would have been used against the negro race just prior to the Civil War. And while I've heard lots of stories about how California originally began its gun control law in reaction to the Black Panthers, I've never given much thought or credilibity to the meme of The Racist Roots of Gun Control'. In fact, I'm actually curious as to what I might have said specifically to this matter in the past. One thing I've always said is that all human beings have the right to make life or death decisions, including the decision to punt that responsibility to the state. But that was more on the harangues associated with abortion and capital punishment. But it is particularly interesting to read the following, discovered today from Adam Winkler:
After the war, Southern states adopted discriminatory laws like the Black Codes, which among other things barred the freedmen from having guns. Racist whites began to form posses that would go out at night to terrorize blacks—and take away those newly obtained firearms. The groups took different names: the “Men of Justice” in Alabama; the “Knights of the White Camellia” in Louisiana; the “Knights of the Rising Sun” in Texas. The group formed in Pulaski, Tenn., became the most well-known: the Ku Klux Klan. Whites believed that they had to confiscate black people’s guns in order to reestablish white supremacy and prevent blacks from fighting back. Blacks who refused to turn over their only means of self-defense were lynched.
Overly aggressive gun control often sparks a backlash, and that’s exactly what happened after the Civil War. Determined to protect the freedmen’s rights, Congress passed legislation like the Freedmen’s Bureau Act and the nation’s first Civil Rights Act. As the former law stated, blacks were entitled to “the full and equal benefit of all laws... concerning personal security... including the constitutional right to bear arms.” When these laws proved ineffective, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was added, guaranteeing all Americans the “privileges or immunities of citizenship”—by which the drafters meant the protections afforded in the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment.
So this is interesting. Let's look at the text of the Freedman's Bureau Act.
Sec. 7.And be it further enacted, That whenever in any State or district in which the ordinary course of judicial proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and wherein, in consequence of any State or local law, ordinance, police or other regulation, custom, or prejudice, any of the civil rights or immunities belonging to white persons, including the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property, and to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and estate, including the constitutional right of bearing arms, are refused or denied to negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons, on account of race, color, or any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, or wherein they or any of them are subjected to any other or different punishment, pains, or penalties, for the commission of any act or offence, than are prescribed for white persons committing like acts or offences, it shall be the duty of the President of the United States, through the Commissioner, to extend military protection and jurisdiction over all cases affecting such persons so discriminated against.
This is all news to me, to the extent by which the struggle for equality under the law for the negro race has been closely associated with this particular exercise. I am not likely to discuss the matter further without this particular aspect of the right.
As an aside, the picture that comes with this essay is not that of Dred Scott, but of Harriet Tubman. Harriet is a well-used name in my family, by the way. But listening to Doc the other day, he reminded me of another little known fact about Harriet Tubman. It was that she happened to be fairly ill on the fateful day of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, and although she was personally invited, she couldn't make the trip. I add that to my knowledge of her that she did always carry firearms and vowed to shoot anyone who did not stick to the rules of the Underground Railroad. Obviously, everyone involved in the enterprise of freeing slaves put their lives at risk, and Tubman had no qualms about putting down any potential spy.