Fordham Law


How the civil rights movement changed black gun culture

Nicholas Johnson on BBC News, March 20, 2014

Media Source

The subject of guns is a volatile one in the black community: a disproportionate number of black Americans are killed by firearms each year.

Gang violence has destabilised some communities, while high-profile killings of black youths like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis have led political leaders to call for reforms to how guns are made, sold, used and stored.

But Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University in New York City, says black Americans have a long, positive history with guns. Firearms, he says, helped black Americans escape slavery, defend their homes and fight for their freedom. It was only after the civil rights movement that the public attitude towards guns started to change.

He explores the hidden relationship between African Americans and firearms in his book Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.