Anderson Analyzes Race and the Second Amendment for Detroit’s WDET

Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor, was recently interviewed by Detroit’s NPR affiliate station, WDET, for All Things Considered, Morning Edition. The story examines the key argument from Anderson’s newest book: that racial inequity has been embedded in U.S. gun policy since the Bill of Rights itself. For more information about Anderson’s book The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021), read our previous coverage here and here. Also read an excerpt from the WDET story below along with the full piece: “How the Second Amendment Built In Inequity in the Nation’s Gun Laws.”

“Dr. Carol Anderson, an Emory University professor who has researched the disparities between whites and Blacks when it comes to the Second Amendment, says the ‘right to bear arms’ by a ‘well-regulated militia’ wasn’t so much about curbing tyranny as it was about stopping a different sort of rebellion.

“‘What that militia was about was about controlling the enslaved population and putting down slave revolts. So sitting in the middle of the Bill of Rights, we have a right to control Black people,’ she says.

“A release from enslavement did little to improve the right to own firearms. As racist Jim Crow laws took hold in the 1870s, Black people’s ability to vote and exercise their First Amendment rights were curtailed. So too were their rights of gun ownership. That’s how it stayed until the rise of the civil rights era in the 1950s. Anderson says since then, there has been a dramatic rise in gun ownership among African Americans.