Civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once applied for a legal permit from authorities to carry a concealed firearm after his home was firebombed. However, he was denied that protection, per multiple media reports, even as government documentation reveals the minister was targeted from 1963 until the day of his assassination.
MLK Jr.’s right to self-defense should have been an easy decision for authorities to grant, given the turmoil in America at the time and the threats aimed at the civil rights leader.
But there is now a better picture of what Rev. King was facing at that turbulent point in American history, and it is definitely a frightening truth.
Rev. King’s galvanizing appeal and the huge crowds being drawn to his speeches seems to have irked some well-place government employees at the time. As evidence, there is a file on the minister located at the Federal Bureau of Investigation online vault.
According to the FBI files on MLK, Reverend King was the target of “an intensive campaign by the F.B.I. to neutralize him as an effective civil rights leader,” per the testimony of the former assistant director for the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division, William C. Sullivan.
From late 1963 and continuing until the assassination in 1968, per the FBI vault files and testimony from Sullivan, “in the war against King… No holds were barred.”
Again, MLK Jr.’s right to self-defense should have been an easy decision for authorities to grant, given the turmoil in America at the time and the threats aimed at the civil rights leader. However, it seems very few understood that Rev. Dr. King was being targeted by the FBI.
After the FBI tweeted something nice about MLK, there was pushback from others against the agency’s treatment of the civil rights icon back in the day.
— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) January 16, 2017
As stated in the article from the Huffington Post, MLK Jr. eventually gave up his pursuit to protect himself even as others in the same civil rights movement continued to pursue the right to carry a weapon to protect themselves from harm.
“Eventually, King gave up any hope of armed self-defense and embraced nonviolence more completely. Others in the civil rights movement, however, embraced the gun.”
But MLK Jr.’s right to self-defense and his application for a permit to carry a gun to protect himself from those threats he faced should have been an easy call.
According to the FBI files on MLK, available online at their FBI Vault, there was an “F.B.I. counterintelligence campaign against King.” In fact, during the days when the news media was generating information for public discussion, people began to worry and speculate that there were perhaps officials who might also have participated in the assassination of the minister and civil rights messenger.
From the Huffington Post story by UCLA Professor of Law Adam Winkler, “The Black Panthers took Malcolm X’s approach to the extreme, openly carrying guns as they patrolled for police abuses on the streets of Oakland. They even made guns part of their official uniform, along with the black beret and leather jacket. Every member learned about Marxism and firearms safety.”
But then California passed a law “to disarm the Panthers and then Congress, after King was assassinated by James Early Ray, passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 — the first major federal gun control since the 1930s. These laws fueled the rise of the modern gun rights movement, which self-consciously borrowed tactics from the civil rights movement,” according to Winkler’s information.
MLK Jr.’s right to self-defense and his application for a permit to carry a gun to protect himself from those threats he faced, including the harm and scare tactics used by law enforcement officials such as brought out by the testimony of a former FBI assistant director, should have been an easy call.
What will we now do with our 2nd Amendment right under the new president just elected?
[Featured Image by Horace Cort/AP Images]