Rights Leader and Gun-Owner Martin Luther King, Jr.
Luther King Jr. is best known as a man of profound peace, who applied
Gandhi’s teachings of non-violent
direct action to the plight of oppressed blacks in America,
of course setting the stage for the Civil Rights movement. It then
may come as a surprise to some that the Reverend King, in keeping
line with Gandhi, believed strongly in the human right to self-defense
and had even
applied for a handgun carry permit after his house had been
bombed to defend his family from the bigoted minds of that era.
He was denied.
UCLA law professor
Winkler explains King’s relationship with firearms in
his book Gunfight.
think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the 1956,
as the civil rights movement heated up, King turned to firearms
for self-protection and he even applied for a permit to carry
a concealed weapon.
This was not
out of the norm for Civil Rights organizers in the 1950s and 60s,
nor was it the only weapon King kept around him. On the receiving
end of countless death threats from both civilians and law enforcement,
supporters took turns guarding King’s home and family after
his permit was denied knowing too well that the Klan was targeting
him for assassination and they would likely receive little assistance
from the local authorities.
Worthy, a black journalist who covered King in the 1950s, reported
that he once went to sit down on an armchair in the King’s living
room and almost sat on a loaded gun. King’s advisor Glenn Smiley
described the great pacifist’s home as containing “an arsenal.”
is attacked at a sit-in protest in Mississippi.
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