The Second Amendment isn’t for everybody

There was no Second Amendment right to bear arms for Philando Castile. In 2016, the Black school cafeteria worker and Teamster member was killed inside his car by a Minnesota cop. Castile told the cop that he had a permitted gun in his glove compartment but was shot seven times when he reached for his registration.

The Second Amendment didn’t apply to John Crawford III either, even in an “open carry” state. The African American man was killed in 2014 by a policeman in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart. Crawford was holding a BB gun that he was purchasing. 

That year, African American, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police for having a toy gun. Thirteen-year-old Black honor student Nicholas Heyward Jr. was killed by a Brooklyn housing cop in 1994 for the same reason.

Jemel Roberson was a Black security guard who in 2018 subdued a gunman who had shot and wounded four people in a Robbins, Ill., bar. When a policeman arrived, he shot and killed Roberson.

The basis of the right to bear arms is the right of people to possess weapons for their own self-defense. But ever since most human societies were divided into rich and poor, the right of self-defense has never been granted to the enslaved and oppressed.

On the Sunday morning of Aug. 17, 1941, the Black sharecropper Sammie Osborne had to make a split-second decision in Barnwell County, S.C. The day before, his white landlord, William Walker, had forced him to work at gunpoint despite Osborne having an injured foot.

Now, the drunken Walker barged into the shack where Osborne had been sleeping, beating the 18-year-old sharecropper with a stick that he held in one hand while holding a .32 caliber pistol in the other. Seeing that his life was in mortal danger, Osborne grabbed a shotgun and killed Walker.

There was no right to self-defense for Sammie Osborne. According to the 1940 census, Barnwell County had a 64 percent Black majority population. But a jury of 12 white men found Osborne guilty. 

Sammie Osborne was sentenced to death by the evil Strom Thurmond, who later became South Carolina’s governor and ran as the presidential candidate of a segregationist party in 1948. Thurmond spent 48 years in the U.S. Senate as its most notorious racist. His friend, Joe Biden, spoke at his memorial service.

After being resentenced to death by another judge, the now 20-year-old Sammie Osborne was strapped in South Carolina’s electric chair on Nov. 19, 1943. As the electrodes were placed on his head, Osborne’s last words were, “I’m ready to go because I know that I am not guilty.” 

The next year, 14-year-old George Stinney was burned to death in the same electric chair.

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