Gun ownership is a right. (Lumina Imaging )

Opinion: Gun control is people control, with racist implications

Some think that Latinos may lead the way to gun control in the future because they are more likely to favor strict gun control than others.  Well, let’s hope not.  Or at least, before Latinos enter into this debate, let’s hope they enter it with as much information about gun control than what they are learning from their liberal counterparts.

Last week’s tragedy in Aurora, Colorado has reset the debate over gun control with renewed hope by anti-gun advocates that Latinos may give them the electoral heft they need to increase the power of the gun control lobby.

First, let’s get one thing out-of-the-way.  The right to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with hunting, collecting or sporting.  The sensibilities of liberals’ anti-gun attitudes do not need to be assuaged as a prerequisite to owning firearms.  The right to own firearms is a fundamental right recognized by the Constitution.  It is not a privilege. It is a right just as voting, free speech or, dare I say, privacy is.

Second, the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not a collective right.  It is not a State right.  To say that a State can regulate firearms under the pretense of regulating a militia ignores the fundamental reason the 2nd Amendment exists, the connection between an armed citizenry and a free society.

This does not mean there should be zero regulations on guns, but the political standoff over gun control is fundamentally about mistrust. Gun owners simply do not trust the government or anti-gun folks to impose any regulations on gun ownership, and when gun control advocates create false justifications for the ownership of guns, such as hunting, gun owners are justified in that distrust.

Third, we should understand the historical connection between gun control and racism.  Simply put, gun control is people control, and this has had deeply racist implications in the past.  The roots of gun control in California are tied to white anxiety over Mexican-Americans and Chinese-Americans at the beginning of the 20th century.

Gun control gained renewed vigor in California after the Black Panthers armed themselves against white police officers intent on keeping their boots on the neck of the black community.  Gun control in the South was explicitly designed to keep guns out of the hands of black communities who used firearms to defend themselves against the Ku Klux Klan.

This was a central reason for giving responsibility over gun-permitting processes to the local police and sheriffs.  While permits were freely handed over to whites, blacks had zero chance of being permitted to own firearms, making it easier for white vigilantes and thugs to terrorize black folks.

As police officers in Anaheim terrorize Latinos at will with their attack dogs and rubber bullets, advocating gun control has serious consequences for the relationship between Latinos and their government that we should think about before making a choice to disarm ourselves.

Perhaps we may want us to look like the most gun-restricted cities in the country, such as Washington D.C. and Chicago, but we should recognize that strict gun laws in those cities have done little to make the good citizens of those cities, who are largely minorities, feel any safer from gun violence or from their overzealous police forces who trample on their rights with impunity.

Finally, the idea that Latinos are more disposed to gun control for any cultural reason is patently false.  Mexico, where a majority of U.S. Latinos come from, is one of the few countries besides the United States to have its own version of the 2nd Amendment.  Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution recognized over one hundred and fifty years ago that “every man has a right to have and carry arms for his security and legitimate defense”.

Unfortunately, Mexico’s recognition of the right to keep and bear arms included a direct avenue for government suppression of that right, with tragic results we don’t need to rehash here.

Latinos should acknowledge the greater historical context and meaning of the right to keep and bear arms before making a decision about gun control.  Most important is the relationship between the people and the government.  The government may indeed desire a less armed citizenry, or fewer armed Latinos, but Latinos’ answer to the government should be, fine, you first.

Opinion: Gun control is people control, with racist implications stephennuno1 e1339078991467 politics NBC Latino News

Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBCLatino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.


  1. Joe says:

    Dr. Nuno
    Great article. I’ve been reading about the history of gun control in America. Actually started in 1751 by the French in South East America to keep guns out of the hands of Blacks and Latinos. It has always been a way to control the people in less thenperfect economic conditions. Thanks Doc.

  2. Dan says:

    I love it! Gun control advocates (mostly liberals) are motivated by racial hatred; so what – the pro-gun lobby (Republicans, the NRA, etc.) are advocates of racial harmony? And let me get this straight: visible minorities need to be armed so as to defend themselves against the police – which is an evil, state sponsored entity? Mr. Nuňo’s vision of running gun battles between minorities and police as the way to achieve racial equality notwithstanding, all I can say is WOW!….Talk about your classic paranoia.

    But that’s not all…Mr. Nuňo makes a causal relationship between an armed society and a free society. Brilliant…so those nations with stricter gun control than the United States (pretty much every western, democratic industrealized nation) is “less free” than the U.S.? Seriously? I wonder how the audience at the Batman film in Aurora enjoyed their freedom as they were getting massacred by some lunatic who was exercising his 2nd Amendment rights? Since the gun play in Tucson in January of 2011, there have been 60 mass shootings in the United States (see Isolated incidents aside, you don’t see that type of carnage in other democracies – but of course, they’re “less free”, so who’d want to live in any of those crazy places? And according to Mr. Nuňo, the ongoing mass shootings in the U.S. is the price for…let me get this right…racial equality. Thanks for the laughs.

    1. Joe says:

      I’ll check your link re: Brady Campaign but what I want to know is how many of these mass shootings took place in “gun free zones”

      1. Dan says:

        I’m not sure what you mean exactly by a gun free zone. However comparing rates of gun crime in the U.S. to other western democracies should provide some clear indicators that there is a very American problem when it comes to gun violence. Or think of it this way…even if you really do need to carry a firearm for self defence or to fight back against state tyranny, wouldn’t you rather live someplace where you don’t need to be armed for those reasons? To say that Americans need firearms for these reasons is to concede that the U.S. is a far more dangerous place than many other countries where people don’t carry fireams yet live free of aggression and state tyranny.

%d bloggers like this: