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‘Reason’ notes Frederick Douglass’ advocacy for 2nd Amendment

Frederick Douglass was a former slave whose speeches and writings were instrumental in securing freedom for black people in the Civil War era. (Photo: U.S. Library of Congress)When you read about Frederick Douglass, you usually think of his advocacy for equal rights. We normally associate the former slave who became an articulate, famous spokesman for freedom with the 13th and 14th amendments.

Douglass, however, also felt strongly about the 2nd amendment, and it appears he considered it a keystone in the foundations of freedom.

Most articles for teachers about Douglass omit that aspect of his philosophy.

Reason magazine’s Damon Root, in the April, 2013 print edition, used Douglass’ words in an article about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas whose writings, said Root, “are steeped in African-American history and grapple repeatedly with the long shadow cast by slavery and Jim Crow.”

Root wrote:

"Thomas’ advocacy for black self-defense came straight from the heart of Frederick Douglass, whose writings Thomas repeatedly cited in his McDonald opinion. 'The liberties of the American people were dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box,' Douglass once wrote. 'Without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.'”

Jim Crow laws in some states severely restricted black people from owning firearms before the Civil Rights Era. Front Page, a conservative news and commentary site, quoted the president of the Frederick Douglass Society:

“Stacy Swimp, president of the Frederick Douglass Society, said ‘there’s a direct correlation between gun control and black people control.’ Early gun laws ‘were put into place to register black folks, to make sure that they would know who we were — that we could not defend ourselves.’”

(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 7, 2013)

Read more about gun control in previous articles at The US Report.

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