My colleague Jack Wolfsohn beat me to the punch on this recent campaign ad from Arizona congressional candidate Jerone Davison. The ad shows Davison, who is black, fending off a mob of Ku Klux Klan members with an AR-15. As Jack notes, the ad is quite over the top, even distasteful. At the same time, as Jack also points out, “firearms can help minorities defend themselves against people who pose threats to them and their families.”
The ad does have a basis in history, as there were several times in the Jim Crow South when blacks took advantage of their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves from racists who wanted to hurt or kill them.
The hub of armed resistance to racism in the 20th century was Monroe, N.C. In 1946, a black World War II veteran, Bennie Montgomery, was working for a white sharecropper, W. W. Magnum. One day, Montgomery asked for his wages early, explaining that he needed to have his father’s car repaired. Magnum reportedly kicked and slapped the young man; Montgomery then cut his boss’s throat with a pocket knife.