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“America’s gun culture is often thought to be lily white. In this groundbreaking book, Nicholas Johnson shows how African Americans, from the abolitionists to the Deacons for Defense and Justice, have taken up arms time and again to fight for their rights and their lives. You’ll never look at guns and the Second Amendment in the same way again.”
—Adam Winkler, professor of law, UCLA School of Law, author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America
“With Negroes and the Gun, Nicholas Johnson has provided a definitive and compelling history of the importance of arms for a people who have not been able to rely on the state for protection. This is must-reading for those who are interested in the history of race in America and in the enduring controversy over the right to bear arms.”
—Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and professor of history and sociology, the George Washington University, and author of The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere
“Race has always been part of the unspoken motive for gun control in the United States. Johnson provides the best, most thorough history of the topic, telling the story mainly from the perspective and voices of blacks themselves. Shattering the myth of black passivity in the face of violent racism, the book is full of inspiring stories of genuine American heroes—some of them famous and many who were not—who used their Second Amendment rights to defend the civil rights of their people. Never shying away from the hardest questions, Johnson addresses the moral and practical complexities of armed self-defense, past and present. A major contribution to cultural studies and to the history of race in America.”
—David B. Kopel, research director, Independence Institute, Denver, Colorado
“Johnson opens a window on the increasingly airless and ever more heated dispute over the Second Amendment by examining blacks’ ambiguous relationship with guns over the centuries. He demonstrates that the right to armed self-defense was critical to saving black lives and livelihoods when confronted by violent hostility. This remarkable book remembers for us a long-forgotten, or possibly selectively forgotten, black tradition of arms—one too often overlooked in current debates over civil rights and gun legislation.”
—Alexander Rose, author of American Rifle: A Biography
“A fascinating and subtle history of the black tradition of armed self-defense. Carefully weaving social with political history from slave times to the present, Johnson explores the complex relation between this legitimate tradition and the occasional fruitless temptation of armed political resistance to oppression. He concludes with a strong argument for restoring the legitimate tradition even in the face of its rejection by the black political establishment and the inescapable reality that blacks are very disproportionately found among the perpetrators and victims of gun violence today. Provocative and illuminating.”
—Nelson Lund, University Professor, George Mason University School of Law
Nicholas Johnson (New York, NY) is professor of Law at Fordham Law School, where he has taught since 1993. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is the lead author of Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy (Aspen 2012).
This is an important book, and one well worth study. African-Americans in the USA have had a long history of bearing arms in this country, especially in self-defense where racism... Read morePublished 6 months ago by K. Morris
The author is pretty clearly pro-gun. The case is pretty good in the days when black families and communities were beset by marauding white men. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jon Norstog
This is a fantastic book. Many in this country, particularly on the left, have made quite the fetish of the civil rights movement being a Ghandi-style non-violent movement. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Joel L. Daniels
Bought it as a gift for my brother and he thoroughly enjoyed it. One evening he excitedly came in and said that our great grandfather, George Washington Albright, was written up in... Read morePublished 11 months ago by E. lewis
Great book! The many courageous stories of the armed struggle against terroristic white supremacy during slavery, Jim Crow, the ain't-lynching and civil rights movement, helped to... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Bomani Howze