By: Marc Lamont Hill
Otis McDonald, lead plaintiff, speaks after the announcement of a ruling in their case seeking to overturn Chicago's gun ban.
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a major decision. In a 5-4 ruling, the high court determined that the Second Amendment applies to the ability of state and local authorities to regulate gun laws. Although the decision promises to impact all sectors of the country, it will have its most immediate and direct effect on Black communities, which have the most rigid and repressive gun restrictions in the nation.
As someone deeply concerned with violence prevention, it is tempting to echo the angry sentiments of mainstream American liberals, who regard the latest decision as a major step backward. For them, gun ownership is an expendable rather than inalienable right, one that is worth ceding in exchange for a more peaceful society. While I sympathize with such a desire, I find the cost of the ticket too high.
As citizens of the United States, we live in a nation founded on revolutionary violence and sustained through a range of violent practices. It was this belief in the redemptive possibilities of violence that informed the creation of the Second Amendment, which allows citizens to keep and bear arms to prevent the creation of an unjust, anti-democratic, or outright tyrannical government. In other words, American democracy is underwritten by the possibility that everyday citizens can fight back if the government no longer acts in the interest of freedom and justice. For Blacks, who have never received the full protection of the State, such a right must be viewed as an indispensable nonnegotiable component of complete citizenship.