Civil Rights Leader Explains Why Gun Rights Matter


Writing at The Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles Charles Hicks, the son of civil rights activist Robert Hicks of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, "an organization of black men in Louisiana who used shotguns and rifles to repel attacks by white vigilantes during the 1960s." As Milloy explains, this weekend Hicks will be honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. and "also be taking a step for what the National Rifle Association has dubbed 'National Rifle Appreciation Day.'" Milloy reprts:

"The Klan would drive through our neighborhood shooting at us, shooting into our homes," recalled Hicks, 66, who grew up in Bogalusa, La., and has been a civil rights activist in the District for more than 35 years. "The black men in the community wouldn't stand for it. You shoot at us, we shoot back at you. I'm convinced that without our guns, my family and many other black people would not be alive today."

As one of the organizers for the weekend's Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, Hicks's pro-gun stance may seem like something of an anomaly. But even though King may best be remembered for his philosophy of nonviolent protest, the fact is that black civil rights activists in many small towns throughout the South carried guns or received protection from groups like the Deacons for Defense and Justice.

Read the whole column here. For more examples of how gun rights helped advance the civil rights movement, see here.

NEXT: India Gang Rape Case Sent to "Fast Track" Court

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Totally absurd! We all know history never repeats itself. There will never again be a need for “mob defense weapons” because no crazies will ever seek to attack a synagogue, mosque, minority community, supermarket, your home, your rural community, or do anything for which you might need more than seven cartridges to defend your loved ones and property.

    1. We have progressed past that as a species.
      Legislation and government force have cured us of that embarrassing part of human nature.

      That’s what Progressivism means. Society is something to be engineered. To be molded like clay. All you need is Top Men in total control over everything.
      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. You guys are so cynical! We need grandstanding, posturing, huffing and puffing and harrumphing in front of children to make it seem like we’re doing something for them!

        Can’t you understand that?

      2. Riiiight.
        Things that are engineered never, you know, break.
        Or fail.
        Or need to be replaced.

        If any false dream needs to die, it’s the one that holds that because engineering is possible, it will, therefore, be without problems.

    2. That is what this is about Romulus. It is about the mob. If people are disarmed they are defenseless against the mob. It is not about fighting the army. It is about defending yourself against the mob when the army and the police are looking the other way.

      These fuckers hate it that they can’t us mob tactics in this country. But if they just get rid of those pesky weapons, they can. And that is what this is about.

      1. When you listen to fools, the mob rules.

        1. You people are the mob. Idiots with too much passion. Better for you to wield pitchforks than firearms.

          1. That way it will be easier for the nice men in pressed uniforms with shiny buttons to gun you down for even daring to think different.

            1. So your argument is “I know you are, but what am I?”? That’s pretty disappointing, even coming from you.

              1. Drat, that was supposed to be in reply to T o n y. Darned squirrels.

          2. That’s right!

            Libertarians who oppose the initiation of force are authoritarians because they would use force against those who initiate force!

            Beware of libertarians!

            1. No, beware of idiots with too much passion. What you’re passionate for is almost irrelevant. Any cause can justify evil acts, and hypocrisy is hardly the worst one.

              1. being passionate about something; what a horrible thing. Difference between you, Tony, and most folks here is that no one here advocates using govt force to make sure their passions are also yours.

              2. No, beware of idiots with too much passion

                You mean the liberals who want more gun control?

    3. Exactly! Once the communists take over every government in the world all violence will end for good, because communists by nature are the most peaceful people on earth and would never harm anyone.

  2. But even though King may best be remembered for his philosophy of nonviolent protest

    I’m pretty sure he applied for a permit to own a pistol and was denied. This is a perfect illustration of why the government should not be in the business of regulating gun rights.

    1. Yes, King applied for a conceal carry permit in Alabama in 1956 and it was rejected.

  3. But it was different back then, and you should be glad to surrender your right to self defense now. We have the Civil Rights Act and a black president and stuff.

    1. Exactly. We’re more civilized than that now. We have the police to take care of such matters, and there are no racist police officers anymore, no sirree Bob.

  4. Back a number of years, I used to listen to a black radio station in Richmond VA. It was a fascinating glimpse into a parallel culture. I vividly recall interviews with people who were saying exactly the same thing: that black gun owners were called upon, and did, defend themselves and their communities from white racists.

    Funny, isn’t it, how one of the more heroic chapters of the civil rights struggle has dropped into the memory hole.

    1. No RC. Blacks didn’t end Jim Crow by standing up and defending themselves. Benevolent non violent white people ended Jim Crow.

      1. Again, who are the racists?

        1. The racists are the bigots who do not believe that inferior blacks need special treatment to overcome their superior white and Asian counterparts.

          Only a racist would want everyone to be treated equally.

          1. Your world frightens and confuses me.

    2. Yes, it’s simply astonishing that the Democrat-media complex doesn’t like to talk about how blacks used to have to defend themselves against Democrats.

    3. Condi Rice used to say the same thing – her father and other men armed themselves to protect their communities from nightriding Klansmen.

      There’s a fascinating book on the Deacons, if anyone feels like reading more

    4. Magic 99?

  5. You shoot at us, we shoot back at you.

    This sort of violent eliminationist teabagterd rhetoric makes us yearn for the civility of olden times.

    1. The result of real gun control would be more like

      You shoot at us, we shoot you.

      This “shooting at” thing is for people with poor gun control.

  6. So did Clarence Thomas influence Milloy or has he always been a supporter of self-defense rights?

  7. The comments are surprisingly devoid of the kind of virulent stupid usually found in the Post comment sections. Do the really retarded trolls just not read articles that don’t fit the narrative?

    1. Re: John,

      Do the really retarded trolls just not read articles that don’t fit the narrative?

      I don’t know. I just come here to look at the picture of the Bad Idea T-shirt girl where she’s bending over, with a smile…

      1. You mean that is a t-shirt ad? I have never noticed a shirt in it.

        1. Despite a great deal of close inspection, I can’t make out the writing on the shirt.

          Obviously the guy who planned the ad campaign should be fired; you can’t see enough of the wares to know whether or not you want to buy… 😉

          1. I thought it was an ad for mail order boobs.

            1. And my order should be…oh, wait.

            2. I worked with a girl who would purposely bend over to give those shots to me just to watch me smile and try to finish my sentences. She would also find excuses to ask me questions leaning over from behind me while I was sitting at my desk, leaning them on my back, pointing out something on a form on my desk, or something on my monitor. Drove me nuts. Damn, I miss her.

              1. You gotta love a woman who knows how to use her assets.

              2. It’s not an invitation you disgusting pig. You’ll never know what it’s like to be treated like a piece of meat.


                1. You’ll never know what it’s like to be treated like a piece of meat.

                  Now you’re just trying to make us feel bad. I’m sure SOME of us will get that opportunity. Maybe.

  8. I’m convinced that without our guns, my family and many other black people would not be alive today.

    He doesn’t get it. In a world where the guns are illegal for anyone but the authorities to own, there would be no shooting into homes that don’t legally deserve it.

    1. so who did Hicks vote in the last election? If the answer is Obama, anything he says is meaningless as he and the rest of Team crowd are exactly what they asked for.

  9. This is the great fallacy in rank-and-file leftist thinking. They fear power in the hands of businesses, other political parties, and other people, but they don’t fear power in the hands of government, even though the greatest abuser of power in this country (and in history) is government.

    I’d respect them, well, at all, if they at least included government on the list of things that needs to be restrained and checked.

    1. Re: Pro Libertate,

      They fear power in the hands of businesses, other political parties, and other people, but they don’t fear power in the hands of government[…]

      They say they don’t fear it when government is legitimate. That is, when their guys are in power. See how that works?

    2. But, but, but government is The Will of the People!

      Why should The Will of the People be restrained and checked?

      How else can The People get back what businesses steal from them except by force?

      That is the purpose of government! To take back what belongs to The People!

      And don’t go telling me that we are not government and government is not us. You vote, don’t you? That makes you part of government!


      1. Of course, sometimes the volont? g?n?rale opts for a Republican government.

        Too much power in human hands is dangerous. Period.

        1. Too much power? For someone with a liberal mindset, that is an oxymoron.

          There is no such thing as too much power.

          There is a such thing as too much power in the hands of the wrong person, but there is no such thing as too much power when it’s your guy who has the it.

          Remember that the central premise of liberalism is ‘might makes right’.

          Too much power? No such thing.

          1. I get that they think that, but it’s a radically dumb position to take.

            1. It’s only dumb if you think about it. If you feel then it makes perfect sense.

              1. I feel that it’s dumb, too.

                1. Then you’re doing it wrong.

      2. I don’t vote. What does that make me?

        1. A realist.

        2. Apathetic.

          But don’t worry, many of us are getting there pretty quickly ourselves.

          A bit of help to keep the fascists from winning would be appreciated, at least by this group.

    3. Pro,

      The Constitution is there to keep right wing tea bagging racists from destroying the country. It is not there to keep enlightened progressives from transforming America into what it should be.

    4. We do, inherently.

      1. *phhhht*

  10. “Bogalusa, La.”

    The town you can smell from 6-8 miles away. Gah, paper mills smell worse than pig farms.

  11. Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude. Wow.

  12. I can’t believe this is a Milloy column.

    1. for folks like Milloy, and maybe a good many of the commentors, the civil rights era trumps the usual left wing orthodoxy. Things that would normally send the faithful into a tizzy are given cover in, once again, looking back at America’s racist past.

      1. commentors on WaPo, I meant.

  13. “violence is never the answer”
    Except when it is.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.