Source: Charles Turot
Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in 1862 and orphaned at 16, rose to fame as a journalist by shining light on things we didn’t want to see — in particular, the horror of lynching. Five thousand Americans were lynched over 90 years, three quarters of them black. The numbers don’t account for the notoriety of the practice; rather, the demonic zeal of its practitioners does. Even reading about it will turn your stomach. Do not look at the photos they displayed with pride of charred bodies. Lynch mobs spread terror among non-white people and those who would defend the rule of law.
Ida B. Wells proposed a solution. “A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home,” she wrote, “… for that protection which the law refuses to give.” “The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away,” Ida noted, “[were] when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.”
Translated for today, Wells’s proposal will sound radical to some. The Civil War began with muzzle-loading muskets but ended with breech-loading rifles firing modern cartridges. The Winchester lever-action debuted in 1873. The “gun that won the West” was a repeating rifle that stored as many as a dozen cartridges in a tubular magazine fitted under the barrel. Someone armed with a Winchester could fire as fast as he could work the cocking lever and pull the trigger. Fans of old westerns like The Rifleman recognize the gun. It allowed an individual a new level of self-defense against multiple attackers. Atticus Finch used it to face down the mob in To Kill a Mockingbird. No one improved on it until 1905, when the self-loading, or semi-automatic, rifle made the lever unnecessary — its more advanced action loads a fresh cartridge from a magazine each time the trigger is pulled.
When Wells was writing, the Winchester, battle rifle of the U.S. military, was state-of-the-art. Wells wanted one in the hands of every black family. Its modern civilian counterpart is the AR-15.
Wells was a Republican. The lynch mobs were Democrats; the KKK, the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party. A friend once asked me whether a black female journalist like Wells would be Republican today. If she wanted civilians to have access to that sort of firepower, she sure as hell would be. That’s heresy now among Democrats.
Wells understood that all guns are designed to kill. Aside from hunting and shooting sports, they have one legitimate purpose: to defend the innocent from harm. They also have a non-legitimate purpose: harming the innocent. For which are they most used? Exactly as Ida intended: many, many times more often to prevent crimes than to commit them. Democrats want to stop that by ending private ownership and use of firearms as quickly as they can. Their intent is to enforce unacceptable law through lawless mob rule, just as they did when Ida was alive.
Like it or not, America can be a violent place — not El Salvador or Venezuela, but not Japan or Switzerland, either: 20,000 homicides a year. Fifteen thousand involve guns, 97% of them handguns. Insane killers bent on mass destruction typically use semi-automatic rifles, but more people are beaten to death each year than murdered with rifles of all kinds. Thugs, gangs, and career criminals don’t need rifles. Cheap black-market pistols are their weapons of choice. Any cop can tell you which brands. Rifles are overwhelmingly used by the law-abiding, in defense of life and property.
It’s important to understand that firearms employed in self-defense are seldom actually fired. It isn’t necessary to kill, or even shoot, to deter criminals. They’re looking for a victim, not a challenge. Merely showing the gun often is often enough. The more intimidating the weapon, the greater its deterrent power. Those on guard during riots, whether the 1986 Rodney King version or today’s, carry AR15s. Their deterrent power is high.
The left wants to take our AR15s. Legislation is already proposed to ban sales of them, as was done 1994–2004 with no effect on crime, or confiscate them. Australia confiscated all semi-automatic rifles in 1996. That also had no effect on crime, which was falling already, and continued to, as in neighboring New Zealand, which enacted no ban. For now, Democrats don’t have the 19th-century Winchester in their sights. They will. It’s already illegal to own, let alone carry, any defensive weapon in our most dangerous cities. All are Democrat-run. The left won’t rest until everyone, everywhere, is defenseless.
Ida B. Wells’s American South didn’t benefit from effective local policing. We do, but we won’t for much longer. Leftist city councils are quickly defunding and depleting the ranks of police departments. Soros-sponsored prosecutors negate the efforts of law enforcement with catch-and-release criminal justice. When politicians order police to stand down, someone fills the authority vacuum. The process is well underway.
For the brief time CHAZ and CHOP ruled part of Seattle last summer, that six-block nation was the most murderous in the world. In a small Virginia city last summer, a mother trapped in her car with a terrified three-year-old during a BLM takeover of downtown pleaded in vain with 911 for help. “The event was approved by the city. We can do nothing.” In April, a Black Panther honcho intimidated a Milwaukee business into shutting down over some perceived slight. Police took his side — with great deference. The Washington BLM contingent routinely harasses curbside diners; in Dallas, a mob invaded a restaurant, kicking over patrons’ tables while chanting, “Who burns s— down? We burn s— down.” Last week, an illegally masked Antifa mob again attempted to burn ICE officers alive by barricading them inside a building they torched. They didn’t have the success the KKK once had, but they channeled its methods. The mask laws now ignored by Democrat mayors were, ironically, enacted long ago to limit the terror of the Klan.
We’ve seen the tactic many times. Post–Civil War Democrats used Klansmen. Nineteen-thirties European fascists used brownshirts and blackshirts. Venezuelan communists use motorcycle-mounted colectivos. When police are hamstrung by leftist politicians and the people are made helpless by the criminalizing of self-defense, rule by mob and gang is inevitable. If Derek Chauvin, or any officer they condemn, is sentenced to one day less than the mob decrees, its wrath will be poured out. For now, the mob’s weapons are largely improvised, but these people will soon take up the firearms denied law-abiding people.
This is not a side-effect of the actions of Democrat legislators. It is the intent. Democrats in boots will enforce the tyranny of Democrats in suits.
Ida B. Wells went to her reward in 1931, the most famous black woman in America. If she were still with us today, she’d be warning us about the mob mayhem to come — again. I’ll do that on the great woman’s behalf.