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Old January 19, 2011, 10:12 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Martin Luther King Denied a CCW in Alabama

Adam Winkler, a UCLA Professor of Law and supporter of strict gun control has an interesting article on Martin Luther King.

He notes that in his research, he has discovered that Dr. King's home was "an arsenal" and that in 1956, after his house was bombed, Dr. King applied for a permit to carry a concealed handgun under Alabama law (then a "may issue" state at the time). Not surprisingly, local police declined to issue one to Dr. King. even though he was a clergyman and receiving death threats daily.

Much like the current California laws on gun permits, if you weren't in with the right people, all the justification in the world couldn't get him a permit.

Winkler takes a shot at the NRA noting that the Alabama law was supported by the NRA at the time. What he neglects to mention is that the NRA also supported the shall-issue law that means Dr. King would not have been subject to the whims of local police.

However, I thought it was interesting for a number of reasons:

1. It shows that even a peaceful, non-violent man like Dr. King appreciated the need to protect himself and his family - using violence if necessary.

2. It shows how may-issue laws are often used unjustly to disarm targeted minorities.

3. It shows that CCW can play a positive role in our social structure and demonstrates the civil rights origins of the right to bear arms about as clearly as any story can.
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Old January 19, 2011, 10:38 AM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartholomew Roberts
1. It shows that even a peaceful, non-violent man like Dr. King appreciated the need to protect himself and his family - using violence if necessary.
That's true. The "non-violence" movement is often misunderstood. The idea is that we don't INITIATE violence, not that we don't, as individuals, respond to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartholomew Roberts
2. It shows how may-issue laws are often used unjustly to disarm targeted minorities.
Maybe, but we'd need a concrete example newer than 54 years to make such a claim mean anything today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartholomew Roberts
3. It shows that CCW can play a positive role in our social structure and demonstrates the civil rights origins of the right to bear arms about as clearly as any story can.
I'm with you on the civil rights part.... the "shows a positive role" part, I don't get in this instance. He didn't have a gun to help him and, given the way he was assassinated, it wouldn't have helped if he did. It doesn't seem like it played any role at all.
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Old January 19, 2011, 11:28 AM   #3
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Sorry, but I don't follow how Dr. King being denied a carry permit ...

Quote:
... shows how may-issue laws are often used unjustly to disarm targeted minorities.
King wasn't disarmed. He kept his arsenal. King was not allowed to carry in public via a carry permit, but since he wasn't already doing it, then he wasn't disarmed. Or if he was armed before applying for a permit, who says he didn't remain armed after being rejected?

As a single data point, it gives no indication of frequency or that a particular group is being biased against. It simply shows where one application was submitted by a single individual and was rejected by a single individual.

Quote:
Much like the current California laws on gun permits, if you weren't in with the right people, all the justification in the world couldn't get him a permit.
So then the problem isn't necessarily that King was a minority, but that he wasn't in tight with the right people. No doubt not all white people were given carry permits either.
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Old January 19, 2011, 01:13 PM   #4
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peetzakilla
Maybe, but we'd need a concrete example newer than 54 years to make such a claim mean anything today.
If you want to search the TFL archives for posts by Jim March, I'm sure you can find sufficient recent examples to keep you busy for some time.

Quote:
the "shows a positive role" part, I don't get in this instance.
By shows a positive role, I just meant that even a widely admired figure of peaceful protest understood the need to have a CCW, even though he was unable to obtain one. I was thinking in broader, more abstract terms rather than in the specific situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy
King wasn't disarmed. He kept his arsenal. King was not allowed to carry in public via a carry permit, but since he wasn't already doing it, then he wasn't disarmed.
OK, does this semantical distinction have some effect on the basic premise I was making? If so, I missed it and you'll have to explain it more clearly to me.

Quote:
As a single data point, it gives no indication of frequency or that a particular group is being biased against.
Yes, as a strictly logical study it proves nothing. Of course, if we think about the person applying (Dr. Martin Luther King), the time (Civl-Rights Era 1960s), the place (segregationist Alabama), I think you can make a lot of inferences with reasonable safety - and I did make those inferences. If you don't wish to, of course, that is your choice.
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Old January 19, 2011, 01:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
By shows a positive role, I just meant that even a widely admired figure of peaceful protest understood the need to have a CCW, even though he was unable to obtain one. I was thinking in broader, more abstract terms rather than in the specific situation.
Gotcha.

Quote:
If you want to search the TFL archives for posts by Jim March, I'm sure you can find sufficient recent examples to keep you busy for some time.
Well that sounds like effort or something.
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Old January 19, 2011, 02:41 PM   #6
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I think the more important aspect here is how governments, if left unchecked, decide who gets rights and who doesn't based on things such as race, political opinion, and status.

Dr. King very obviously - more than most people - would not have used the firearm in a use other than self-defense, which was the talking point behind "may issue".
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Old January 19, 2011, 03:17 PM   #7
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Isn't Alabama still a "May Issue" state? Says so on Handgunlaw.us anyway
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Old January 19, 2011, 03:30 PM   #8
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yeah, Alabama is still a may issue state
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Old January 19, 2011, 03:43 PM   #9
Bartholomew Roberts
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Doh! That is correct. Alabama is a may-issue state still, although it recognizes permits from a number of shall-issue states. Guess Dr. King would still be at the mercy of local police.
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Old January 19, 2011, 05:52 PM   #10
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yep, I'm not sure, but I believe that we (Alabama) accept permits from any state that will accept ours.
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Old January 19, 2011, 10:59 PM   #11
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Today MLK would get his permit in AL because if not, the sheriff would be sued out of office, and he would be held personally liable for willfully violating someone's civil rights. (If you don't believe the personally liable part, take a look at one of the letters that the alabama open carry org sends to sheriffs - very interesting read).

The may issue laws were primarily enacted in the south to restrict minorities from protecting themselves - that's well known. Just like how may issue was enacted an used in cali to control latinos and asians, and how unloaded open carry came about to restrict the black panthers.
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Old January 20, 2011, 12:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Winkler takes a shot at the NRA noting that the Alabama law was supported by the NRA at the time. What he neglects to mention is that the NRA also supported the shall-issue law that means Dr. King would not have been subject to the whims of local police.
The NRA was in the past and is today a servant of entrenched power. Winkler was probably riffing on King being the anti-thesis of that.
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