The "Progressive" Myth of Gun Control
In the first part, Kopel described the prominent place of gun control in the so-called "Black Codes" of the post-Civil War period.
Another important example of gun control in the 19th century, which he didn't mention, was the firearm registration or confiscation measures promulgated by governors of states under martial law, during the Copper Wars out West. To see a more recent example of the important role armed self-defense played in the U.S. workers' movement, get your hands on a copy of Matewan, an excellent indie movie set in the 1920s during the West Virginia Coal Wars (it features some great hillbilly music in the soundtrack, if you're into that sort of thing). Of course, we know how important an armed citizenry was in Spain. In July 1936 Franco, bridling at the left-wing coalition that controlled the government and the number of factories coming under the control of workers' committees, attempted a coup d'etat. In roughly the south-eastern half of Spain, however, the workers' militias managed to drive Franco's forces into their barracks.
Anyway, the narrative of armed self-defense in the 20th century civil rights movement, as Kopel recounts it, is fascinating.
One of the more inspiring stories is that of the defense of the Monroe, NC chapter of the NAACP, organized by Robert Williams.
Civil rights volunteers, in groups of 50 a night, took turns standing guard at Albert Perry's house. They dug foxholes, piled up sandbags, and kept steel helmets and gas masks handy. They also stockpiled over 600 firearms.
On the night of October 5, 1957, a Klan motorcade approached the Perry house. The civil rights workers opened fire, having been told not to shoot unless necessary.
As you might expect, it became necessary. The outcome was described by Julian Mayfield:
The fire was blistering, disciplined and frightening. The motorcade of about eighty cars, which had begun in a spirit of good fellowship, disintegrated into chaos, with panicky, robed men fleeing in every direction. Some had to abandon their automobiles and continue on foot.
Robert Williams later wrote the book Negroes With Guns, and went on to figure prominently in the Black Panthers.