McDonald vs Chicago

A number of years ago I was spending time in the mountains of Southern Idaho praying and fasting. I came upon a little sign by a stream which said “China Springs” and there was a brief history written about the origin of that name. It said that this was the spot where a number of Chinese prospectors, who had come to the area during the gold rush in the mid 1800s, had been murdered for their gold. I searched for the grave site of these murdered men and, with the help of the Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I found the mounds of rock marking their final resting place. It was surrounded with a zig zag of logs as a fence marking the little overgrown cemetery. It was not simple to find and probably had been made difficult in part to protect the site.

I can’t say why but the history of these murdered men had an effect on me and I wept about the unjust deaths and repented for the evil done in that place. It was at this time that I had a prophetic experience. What I learned from this experience was very interesting, and, to me, quite intriguing. What I received from this experience was that the root of all attacks upon the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” is rooted in racism.

I grew up in a household with firearms and learned a respect for them. I understood the right to own and use them which was passed down to me by my forbearers. But I had never heard a connection between racism and the movement against the Second Amendment. In time I began to uncover information which documented what I had learned way up at over 8,000 feet in the mountains.

It seems after the civil war, when freedmen were given full US citizenship, that in many areas of the former confederacy laws were passed to keep blacks and other minorities from utilizing many of the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms. These became known as “Jim Crow” laws. These type of abuses were a major reason for the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 just three years after the end of the Civil War. The Fourteenth Amendment made the Bill of Rights applicable to the States – whereas previously it had only been restrictive to the Federal Government. Perhaps because of the unique way in which I had come into an understanding of the origin of the attacks upon the right to keep and bear arms, I have been very watchful of infringements upon this right.

A few years after this event I was in New York as a guest minister for a predominantly African American Church. While visiting with the church elders I raised a question which I could not get an answer to in Montana. While we were talking about the Jim Crow laws of the past, I asked why they would allow such laws to continue on in our day? They all seemed perplexed and asked me for an example. I mentioned the law put into place by the then current presidential administration requiring any applicant for HUD housing to sign a waiver that they would not have a firearm in the unit provided. Since HUD housing was primarily provided to minorities this was nothing more than a modern Jim Crow law which kept minorities from exercising all the rights of citizenship. The look on their faces was my answer. Not a one had ever thought of this. What seemed like a benefit (cheap housing) was actually a trade for giving up certain rights which were intended to be enjoyed by all citizens.

One would think we had finally passed beyond these types of bigotry, but recent events have shown that we have not. Recently a case was decided by the Supreme Court known as McDonald v. Chicago. Otis McDonald, the African American son of Louisiana sharecroppers, felt the need to purchase a hand gun for protection as crime increased in his Chicago neighborhood, but the city laws prohibited him from doing so. His case eventually made it to the US Supreme Court who in June ruled that the Second Amendment was incorporated to the states and cities through the Fourteenth Amendment. After the ruling Mr. McDonald said, “I was feeling the poor blacks who years ago had their guns taken away from them and were killed as someone wished. That was a long time ago, but I feel their spirit. That’s what I was feeling in the courtroom. It was rough on me that way.”

In much of the Court’s final decision the justices voting in favor wrote extensively on the past Jim Crow laws and how they influenced the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in order to extend the bill of rights to the States. While we can rejoice that this issue was finally settled, it also revealed how far we still need to go. It might seem to a thinking person that the ruling would be 9-0 in favor of Mr. McDonald having a right to a handgun for self defense, as is the right of any US citizen. But four justices voted against his right. Is it possible that those four allowed their own opinions and bias to darken their judgment, rather than relying solely on the constitution? Perhaps it was in reality racially motivated? At least one of the justices who voted against this has expressed her opinion in the past. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she thought the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was intended to aid population control among a certain section of the American population. In an interview she said, “So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often. Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of, so that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.”

This seems shocking to many people, but why aren’t these things reported more widely? We can be thankful our constitutional rights were recently upheld for all Americans, if only barely. We still have a root of racism and it is at the root of the attacks on at least one of our fundamental rights. As Americans we must all stand together and not give in to tyranny or limitation of fundamental rights over anyone, minority or otherwise.

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