Texas A&M recently sponsored an event at which actor Danny Glover spoke. They were caught a little by surprise, however, when he made some controversial comments that are a bizarre distortion of history and of the second amendment. “I don’t know if you know the genesis of the right to bear arms,” he said. “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans.” (quoted from: http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4582). This opinion, of course, takes huge logical leaps, with unfounded assumptions and a blatant distortion of historical fact. The right to bear arms preceded the struggle over lands with Native Americans, and although slave owners may have used guns for security against slave revolts, that was certainly not the only use of guns, nor were they the only people desiring guns for legitimate purposes of hunting for food and self defense against outlaws, whether in the Old West or in various homes throughout the country over the years as protection against intruders with evil intent.
His opinion does not take into account the battles at Lexington and Concord that sparked the American Revolution, as the British tried to confiscate weapons from the colonists to deny them the power of arms against the tyrannical rule of the British crown. The second amendment, therefore, is about power to oppose tyranny AND about the power to protect and defend one’s body and property as well as the body and property of one’s loved ones and friends. Granted, there was a regrettable period in our history in which black slaves were considered property or considered less equal than other Americans, but we already fought a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to decide those issues among the American people. Moreover, the ignorance of people to consider blacks as less than human or as property is simply the same ignorance that we all have without God’s intervention. We are, all of us, woefully ignorant until God shines His Light of Truth into our sinful hearts. We are all prone to sin and all prone to selfish violation of the rights and dignity of our brothers and sisters in human flesh.
But Glover’s ignorant opinions miss mountains of information from American history. While slave owners may have used weapons to enforce slavery, a weapon can be taken up by any man, including a slave. What scared the bejesus out of many white southerners was the prospect of a weapon in the hands of a slave in revolt, such as Nat Turner in that famous incident in 1831. His revolt started with the power of the gun, but as he and his followers became more confident and recognized that the report of gunfire might give them away, they turned to knives, hatchets, axes, and clubs. This last bit of information should give the gun control advocates a second thought since mass violence can be carried out with virtually any type of weapon. In addition to Turner's revolt, another famous incident threatened to put weapons into the hands of blacks so that they could secure their rights forcefully. This incident was John Brown’s raid on the U.S. Army arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Brown’s failed attempt to seize the arsenal of weapons and use them to establish a separate nation where blacks could be free was one of the precipitating events of the Civil War, scaring white southerners and making them more prone to take up arms. In addition to these events, there was a historical event in the South during the Jim Crow era, that era in which whites tried to enforce their caste system on blacks, keeping them out of the political power structure and down on the bottom rung of their society.
In a brutal incident of insane, evil violence, white mobs attacked peaceful blacks in the community of Rosewood, Florida, in 1923. They were inflamed over the lie of a white woman who tried to cover up the beating she took at the hands of her adulterous white lover. To cover her sin and keep her husband from finding out her adultery, she claimed, instead, that she was attacked by a black man. In the ensuing violence, an armed black man, Sylvester Carrier, held off the out-of-control white mob at one home, allowing a group of children to escape out the back door into the woods where they would get successfully away. So, guns actually helped blacks to oppose tyranny when the civil authorities would not guarantee their peaceful, safe existence and would not help protect their property. I cannot stress this enough. We have the right, given by God Himself, to protect our bodies and property, as well as the property and bodies of our loved ones and friends, especially when the civil authorities are unable to help us. This right is inalienable; it cannot be rightfully taken from us since it is given directly to us by God.
But the gun was not only useful by black Americans who had to secure their rights at the end of a barrel. The Native Americans or American Indians also used firearms to resist the encroachment of settlers and to fight against U.S. troops. The gun at least gave them a fighting chance, because many were not hostile, wanting only a peaceful existence, not really understanding the flood of white people across and into their lands who didn't simply want to share that land. Don't get me wrong, I do not subscribe to the opinion that all white settlers were evil white devils that stole the land from the Native Americans. The land belongs to God, and God can choose Whom He wants to possess that land. However, it is a historical fact that white settlers and their government often treated the Native Americans unfairly or brutally such as in the Trail of Tears or Wounded Knee. If the settlers of this land truly believed in the God of the Bible, they would have found a more peaceful solution to the various land disputes and would have treated the Native peoples with dignity rather than treating them like they were subhuman. Every time in human history that we start considering our sisters and brothers as less than human, you can rest assured that Satan is behind it and that some evil and violent act will follow.
Given our checkered history in living up to our national and religious values, Danny Glover can be excused somewhat for his bitter opinions. He can also be excused somewhat for his ignorance. He is like so many celebrities that become arrogant from their success, beginning to think that they are more special than the rest of the population because they are blessed with money and fame. Then, believing in their “specialness,” they begin to believe that their ignorant opinions are brilliant or more important than everyone else’s opinions, and they then swap these ignorant opinions with their equally ignorant friends at social events, in their homes, and in their work places, spreading and magnifying this disease of ignorance in that isolated population. Eventually, they begin to regurgitate their opinions to the public, empirically proving Abraham Lincoln’s quip that it is “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Unfortunately, he is no better or worse than most people. Without God's intervention, we are all ignorant and prone to sin.
I pray you will all have a blessed day enjoying the various freedoms that are available to you in your country, and I pray that you will walk closely with the Lord today, allowing His Wisdom and the Power of His Spirit to build ever greater in you.