Gun Rights, Civil Rights

The heirs of the Black Panthers and the fight for black open carry


When a cop shot teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer, the death sparked protests, a militarized law enforcement response, and finally looting and destruction. But the Huey P. Newton Gun Club was ready. The Dallas-based group had formed in June 2014, more than two months before the shooting.

Charles Goodson, the club's founder, started recruiting members after he learned that Dallas police officers had shot at 40 unarmed citizens over the past 12 years. "We are proposing armed self-defense as it relates to the situation with black people here in America when it comes to dealing with police departments," he explains.

A group of black men and women standing against police brutality and in favor of the Second Amendment: It's a combination that tends to scramble partisan narratives. Goodson says he's received support from across the political spectrum.

"We've gotten a lot of response from conservative people, you know, National Rifle Association," says Goodson. "We don't consider ourselves to the far right or the far left. We think what we're doing is right on time."

The group stages regular events in which members carry their firearms through town in plain sight. In March it did this in front of Texas' state capitol building, a move reminiscent of the actual Huey P. Newton, whose Black Panthers carried firearms into California's capitol building. That led to the Mulford Act, which prohibits the open carry of loaded weapons and would later become a model for federal gun control legislation. It was signed into law by then–Gov. Ronald Reagan, a fact that further complicates the ideological history of gun control.

Occidental College historian Thaddeus Russell says that the relationship between black Americans, civil rights, and guns stretches back much further than the '60s.

"Black Americans have been using guns ever since there were black Americans," says Russell. "One of the great untold stories about the civil rights movement was that it required violent resistance from blacks to be effective."

As an example, Russell cites armed resistance to the Ku Klux Klan, which he calls the nation's "first gun control organization" during Reconstruction. More provocatively, he points to Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Birmingham, Alabama. While King famously advocated nonviolent civil disobedience, his letter from Birmingham jail also alludes to the vital role armed blacks played in the civil rights movement: "I am convinced that if your white brothers dismiss us as 'rabble rousers' and 'outside agitators'—those of us who are working through the channels of nonviolent direct action—and refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes, out of frustration and despair, will seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies, a development that will lead inevitably to a frightening racial nightmare."

The specter of a violent, armed revolution prompted white civic leaders to take King's movement more seriously. "I'm not promoting violent resistance," says Russell. "But there's no question that it has been effective historically."

The members of the gun club are quick to point out that they don't promote violence either, only self-defense and self-reliance. One bylaw states that the group cannot accept government grants, which members see as necessary to maintain independence.

"We feel that we should do for ourselves," says one member, who identified himself as Huey Freeman. "You can't buy us."

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  1. Organizations like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence love to post pictures of open carriers and NRA conventions that solely depict white men and use that as “proof” that gun owners are racist. And yet, I have never seen them comment about groups like this one. I can’t imagine why.

    1. Never let the facts get in the way of the narrative.

    2. ” I can’t imagine why.”

      I hear them comment all the time: “Something something Uncle Tom.”

      Nothing will make a proggie piss their pants faster than seeing a black man carrying a gun.

      1. The lefties who toss around the “Uncle Tom” moniker about any black who leaves the ideological plantation, are undoubtedly the most prevalent and perverse racists in modern America.

        1. Well, there are also the ones that prefer the term, “oreo.”

      2. Obama’s great uncle carried a gun. During WW2. When he liberated Auschwitz. Of course he would have needed to have been serving with the Red Army since it was they that liberated that concentration camp. And I think he is white.

  2. We need a lot more of this.

  3. Did you ever hear about some guy who showed up at some kind of “Open Carry” event with an AR-15 over his shoulder? A couple national TV news shows carried a short clip which only showed the slung rifle from an angle which showed the back of the shirt below the collar and managed to not show the arm – because the guy was black and would have ruined the narrative.

    1. Yes, I have seen that exact photo.

      1. “A man at a pro-health care reform rally just outside, wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip. The Associated Press reports about a dozen people in all at that event were visible carrying firearms….” [the man just described was black]

        “… And the reason we’re talking about this, a lot of talk here, Dylan, because people feel like, yes, there are Second Amendment rights for sure but also there are questions about whether this has racial overtones. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists or to their legs.”…..protesters

    2. I remember it well. MSNBC was caught red handed and it was pretty well publicized. It appeared to have little to no effect on the egregious campaign to smear the TEA party. To this day the TEAbaggers are solid racists. Everyone knows this.

      As long as you are giving out free shit it doesn’t matter how much of a lying scumbag you are.

      1. As long as you’re giving out free shit it doesn’t matter if you’re stealing, kidnapping or murdering people.

  4. “It was signed into law by then?Gov. Ronald Reagan, a fact that further complicates the ideological history of gun control.”

    A further complication exists for those of us who believe David Horowitz’s account of his experiences with the Black Panthers. If he is to be believed, the Panthers were, from beginning to end, a criminal gang using Revolutionary and Civil Rights rhetoric to hoodwink the Radical Chic Left.

    I’m all for 2nd Amendment rights. The Political Class is too goddamned fond of finding exceptions in phrases like “Shall make no law” and “Shall not be infringed”. I don’t own a gun, and don’t plan to, but that is MY decision, not the business of some patronizing busybody. And any rights I mention for myself, I also hold sacred for poor people, no matter how much darker their skin is than mine. I could wish, however, that this particular group of 2nd Amendment activists hadn’t named themselves after Newton. Maybe Horowitz is wrong. Maybe he wasn’t a murdering thug in charge of murdering thugs. But it bugs me.

    OTOH, maybe they are twitting the Liberal Intellectual Progressive Left, which still lionizes Newton, but doesn’t REALLY like the idea of armed Peasants. In which case I will swallow my nerves and applaud.

    1. “A further complication exists for those of us who believe David Horowitz….”

      I am bedeviled by no such complications, as I trust this man’s objectivity only slightly more than that possessed by Senators McCain and Graham.

      “And any rights I mention for myself, I also hold sacred for poor people, no matter how much darker their skin is than mine.” – for which you should rightly be lauded, Schofield.

      1. Horowitz has the fervor of the apostate, but I see no reason to doubt the essentials of his stories of the Panthers. He was there.

        My issue with this is the absurdity of anyone arming themselves to protect themselves from the police. When has that ever gone well? Maybe in a civil war or revolution, but otherwise, it’s a probably recipe for disaster. What’s the plan? Pull a gun on someone who’s likely already trigger-happy, and hope the jury goes for your self-defense argument?

        1. It goes well for the rest of society when the police and the government fear the populace.

          I doubt anyone who ever got fed up with their treatment and lashed out ever thought they had much of a chance of getting away with it. When self-sacrifice becomes the only option, that is a choice you make and live with.

          1. Except the effect will be counter-productive: it sends the message to every cop that civilians are a danger.

        2. The vigilance committee pf San Francisco springs to mind.

    2. I’m not disagreeing with you but you act like owning a gun is a big decision. It’s a lot like owning a hammer or screwdriver. It’s a tool and like every tool it has its own job to do.

      I wish more people would see guns this way. Inanimate objects that do nothing except what their human owner tells them to do. Nothing special, nothing mystifying, just a hunk of metal, wood, and/or plastic.

      1. You’re loopy man….we hear all the time about guns that of their own volition just up and walk into churches and daycare centers and wreak senseless carnage on the cowering innocents hiding within.

        Because guns

        1. I’ve seen a ton of those arguments. Mostly I see the argument that without guns these people would not have been able to kill as many people and then they’ll use statistics to show that how if no one owns a gun then gun crime will be lowered.

          I get the gist of their arguments. However, the statistics may be true but I can’t ignore my own life experiences. I have lived the majority of my life in rural areas where everybody owns multiple guns and our crime rates out here are vastly lower than urban areas. The same guns are in both urban and rural areas so if must be a difference in culture/people. The crime we do get is usually just some meth head that is doing something stupid just to get his/her next fix and usually not violent in nature (there are exceptions obviously).

          As for the mass shootings, I’ve tried to wrap my head around it but I can’t. It’s like those fuckers at Columbine let the genie out of the bottle and now there’s no getting it back in.

          I blame overall pussification myself. Like that Indian kid up in Washington last year. That little fucker needed his ass kicked for being such a bitch and whining and getting depressed over one little girl in freshman year of high school.

          1. Take out the inner city violence created by poverty traps set up by liberals themselves, and what does the rest of the country look like? There is probably no safer place to be in the world than anywhere in America outside of an inner city.

          2. Regarding mass shootings, there is a lot of debate whether there’s a general upward trend. It depends on the how many victims are required, whether gangland-style scenarios are included, etc. Moreover, it requires believing that there’s statistical significance in a period of three years, etc. It’s not at all clear that mass shootings have increased over the past three years, or the past 20.

      2. …like every tool it has its own job to do.

        Yes indeed. Also, I find in my hoplophobic acquaintances an inability to appreciate the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in firearms for different purposes. Even though my recoilless masonry hammer, my tacker, and my framing hammer are all hammers, they are not particularly interchangeable. The scattergun with which I stalk waterfowl is not the same as the scattergun I employ for home defense. The large bodied, small caliber, extremely accurate handgun with which I vanquish those damnable nutria is quite dissimilar to the tiny, titanium framed, large bore revolver I carry when hiking in bear country (truth be told, I’ve only put 20 or so rounds through that one; it really, really hurts to shoot and is for bear emergency only).

        1. Very true. I mainly own shotguns because I’m more of a small game/duck hunter. I own one .270 for the purposes of deer hunting and a .22 that has been in my family for almost a century.

          Like you said, even though my shotguns are all shotguns, they each have their intended targets: 20 gauge for squirrels and doves, 12 gauge for ducks.

          I don’t own and have never owned a handgun. I’ve never really had much use for one. I live in TX and some guys carry one in the woods in case of hogs but I’ve never had much of a problem. Plus they are fucking expensive as hell and I can’t bring myself to pay for one when I could get another rifle or shotgun for the same price.

      3. Well, the thing is, I’m what used to be called a slewfoot. I’m naturally unhandy, and consequently stay away from certain kinds of tools that have big effect very quickly. Like power saws and guns. My personal choice, based on my assessment of my own strengths and weaknesses.

  5. You are leaving a big part of the Black Panther story out here. They were MAOISTS and Marxist-Leninists. They believed in the violent overthrow of the US government and the dismantlement of global capitalism. They were, as they say, Communists with a capital C. They had guns not just to defend themselves: they wanted to spark violent revolution.

    The Huey P. Newton gun club named themselves after Newton, a stated Marxist-Leninist. And I’m going to venture to say that their choice of Huey P. Newton may have more to it than just his stance on armed resistance. Just guessing.

    1. That’s fine. The comrades can all pool their resources and in true communist fashion they will end up with an inferior product, maybe they’ll all be armed with shitty SKS’s or something. They’ll find it difficult to gain much once they come into contact with people armed with superior capitalist weapons.

      1. I would also jump to the defense of Soviet firearms; I love me some Commie handguns. The Soviet era small-arms are (in my experience) reliable, easy to maintain, and well-made (some very large caveats are attached to that final claim). They are designed to be employed, with little training, by the lumpen-proletariat.

        1. True enough. I was just being an ass and making broad, sweeping generalizations.

          1. Broad, sweeping generalizations are the very best kind of generalization.

            I know it has posted several times before, but the DIY AK from a shit shovel always brings a smile to my face.


    2. So? Rights are rights; and Marxists are as entitled to gun ownership as I am. They want to try and force me to live in their classless utopia they have another thing coming, but their political opinions are no basis for denying them their rights.

      1. Hell, I’ll go farther. CRIMINALS have the same civil rights are I do. I just don’t want to publicly embrace a group named after Newton and later discover that they are as criminal as he seems to have been.

        And, as I said, if they picked the name to stick it to the Liberals, then it’s all good.

  6. Hank Strange

    Mr. Colion Noir

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  8. This is why Condi Rice and her father were staunch supporters of gun rights. Relying on the police is dangerous if the police are hostile to you, even aside from the problem of timing. (“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”)

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