In the wake of two high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the gun control debate in America continues. Mass shootings in the U.S. occur at alarming rates. In the first 22 weeks of 2022, there were around 246 mass shootings in America. Even with outrageous numbers like that, gun control is still a divisive point of discussion in American society. But this discordance around guns is nothing new—gun restriction debates have always been part of America’s history.
The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, stating: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” And while the amendment is arguably ambiguous, one organization has explicitly honed in on the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” clause. Within the last few decades, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been an adamant force for gun rights—insistent that the right to bear arms trumps any attempts at regulation.
Days following the tragic killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, NRA CEO, Wayne LaPierre, vowed that the NRA would continue to fight to expand gun rights — “and not just in the face of tragic, horrible events when politicians and demagogues try to scapegoat us…but every day — for weeks, for months, for decades.”
No matter the circumstances, it would seem that the NRA was always stark gun rights advocates and dissenters against gun control. But you may be surprised to learn that there was actually a time in American history when the NRA was in support of strict gun control regulations.
In the late 1960s, the Black revolutionary organization the Black Panther Party (BPP) was beginning to spread its message of Black empowerment across the U.S. Among various causes, the BPP was determined to combat the rising number of police attacks against Black people by arming themselves with rifles. Using their Second Amendment rights, members of the BPP would often openly carry their rifles in the streets. But in a social and political system that was heavily based on racism and fear-mongering, this made many white Americans uneasy, including the NRA. In an attempt to disarm Black Americans, the NRA took a racially motivated approach to gun control.
Learn how the NRA, politicians and law enforcement all worked together to sabotage the Black Panther Party and take away their gun rights in the late 1960s.