Violence Policy Center: Reinstate the Black Codes?

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) -- the anti-gun rights group that Barack Obama repeatedly voted to fund while he was a director of the Joyce Foundation -- believes that African-Americans are too violent to deserve the entire Constitution. Thus, it wants to reduce their access to firearms. From the Violence Policy Center's latest report:

Blacks in the United States are disproportionately affected by homicide. For the year 2007, blacks represented 13 percent of the nation’s population, yet accounted for 49 percent of all homicide victims.

As noted at the beginning of this study, the devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.

For blacks, like all victims of homicide, guns -- usually handguns -- are far and away the number one murder tool. Successful efforts to reduce America’s black homicide toll must put a focus on reducing access to firearms.

For an organization to make a public declaration that suggests an entire race be denied the same level of constitutional protections as others is both shocking and bewildering. The study received financing from left-wing groups dedicated to social engineering, including the David Bohnett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation.

While progressive groups such as these typically have a stated goal of helping underprivileged minority communities, some of their attempts to affect what they view as positive social change can be viewed by critics as ham-handed and condescending -- or, as in this instance, verging on outright racist.

The VPC and the left-wing foundations that bankroll it have decided that black-on-black crime is unacceptably high, and they believe the best way to handle that is to make it more difficult for African-Americans to legally obtain handguns.

The VPC refuses to even touch on the cultural issues that are the most significant variable in the massive discrepancy between the rate of black homicide victims (20.86 per 100,000) and white homicide victims (3.11 per 100,000). The VPC also won't acknowledge that the vast majority of African-American homicide victims are murdered by young African-American men. Identifying, targeting, and removing the cultural factors that most specifically contribute to this problem would seem to be the most responsible way to decrease the excessive violence rates, but the VPC's goal clearly isn't problem resolution.

Calls to limit the access of African-Americans to firearms specifically echo the "black codes" adopted immediately at the end of the Civil War. These laws were passed in southern states in response to the Thirteenth Amendment's outlawing of slavery, and were specifically engineered to circumscribe the civil rights and liberties of newly freed slaves and freemen. The codes assured the second-class status of African-Americans, and were a forerunner to decades of "separate but equal" segregation under Jim Crow laws -- which were only overcome during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Among the codes commonly passed were laws that forbid or restricted the ownership of firearms by African-Americans. The codes were "justified" with the explanation that African-Americans did not have the same rights as white citizens.

The Ku Klux Klan and similar groups were active in attempting to disarm blacks in the post-war South, and United States v. Cruikshank gave paramilitary racist mobs carte blanche to disarm African-American communities. This left them nearly defenseless to decades of lynchings, assaults, indignity, and, in several dozen instances, full-fledged "race riots" that are more accurately described as massacres. Most of these rampages occurred with the full knowledge of local and state governments. The 1898 Wilmington race riot was carried out with the full knowledge and indifference of both North Carolina Governor Daniel Lindsay Russell and President William McKinley.

One can only hope that Josh Sugarman, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, is completely ignorant of the many mob actions and the thousands of deaths that resulted from laws that stripped African-Americans of their rights and liberties. Considering his long-running and strident anti-gun advocacy, it seems likely that Sugarman and the organization are well aware of history but made a political calculation in asking that African-Americans be disarmed.

The goal of the Violence Policy Center in this report is the goal of the group in every report it has ever issued: an erosion of gun rights for all Americans, with the ultimate goal being the prohibition of all firearms save those under state control. Towards that totalitarian end, the VPC does not seem to have any qualms about advocating a return to racist policies that left African-American communities helpless targets for most of a century. Nor does Sugarman or his group explain how disarming law-abiding blacks will make them anything other than victims for those that refuse to follow existing prohibitions against murder.

The David Bohnett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation were all contacted this week by Pajamas Media and asked whether or not they stood behind the Violence Policy Center's call to limit the rights and liberties of African-Americans.

Not one of these organizations has responded with a condemnation of the VPC's conclusions.