The NRA exploited the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man that the association historically had no regard for, to speak out against the gun control movement that has intensified in response to frequent school shootings and mass killings in the U.S.
In an NRA TV video, spokeswoman Dana Loesch suggested the civil rights icon might have survived if he’d been permitted to carry a concealed weapon.
Loesch singled out a New Yorker article, “Gun Control, White Paranoia, and the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Rich Benjamin.
Benjamin writes that despite the assassinations of both King and Senator Robert Kennedy, the NRA has a history of consistently blocking gun-control measures.
The NRA has “weakened elements of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and generally blocked the passage of major gun-control legislation for decades,” he writes.
To counteract Benjamin’s argument, Loesch manipulated the story behind King applying for a license to carry a gun in his car after his home in Alabama was firebombed in 1956.
“King sought to own a weapon for his own self defense, and he was denied,” she said. “In fact, this was the time around the Montgomery boycott his home had been firebombed and Dr. King realized, ‘I was close to death. I need to protect myself.’ And he sought a gun permit. And was denied because gun control’s roots are racist.”
In her artificial praise for King and his nonviolence stance, she said that even though King changed his views toward firearm ownership, he “also recognized how important it was for everyone to be able to defend themselves.”
DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti had the following response to Loesch’s commentary:
“I am a veteran, qualified expert in pistol shooting and a master rated rifleman.
“I have been to the Lorraine Motel museum. I stood in the hallway and looked through the bathroom window where James Earl Ray rested his rifle to put a bullet through Martin Luther King Jr.’s head.
“From a technical standpoint, it was not a difficult shot, the murderer had good cover and was not significantly exposed. He would have been able to see that a second shot was not necessary and could have withdrawn from the window in a split second.
“In my qualified opinion, there was no possible way for Dr. King to protect himself by having a concealed weapon. If every man on that balcony had a concealed weapon, James Earl Ray would have gotten away anyway. The NRA spokeswoman is either profoundly ignorant or lying. Using this day to promote crazy NRA fanaticism and delusional theories about the ‘safety’ of toting a gun is simply racist.”
In her commentary on King, Loesch also failed to mention a very important point he was a victim of gun violence.
And, she provided false background regarding why King decided to seek a gun permit. It wasn’t his own personal belief that Americans should bear arms that propelled him to do so. He was complying with his loved one’s wishes.
Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson has made available King’s prominent writings. In the book, “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Carson included a passage where King wrote about gun ownership:
“After the bombings, many of the officers of my church and other trusted friends urged me to hire a bodyguard and armed watchmen for my house. When my father came to town, he concurred with both of these suggestions.
“I tried to tell them that I had no fears now and consequently needed no weapons for protection. This they would not hear. They insisted that I protect the house and family, even if I didn’t want to protect myself.
“In order to satisfy the wishes of these close friends and associates, I decided to consider the question of an armed guard. I went down to the sheriff’s office and applied for a license to carry a gun in the car; but this was refused.
“Meanwhile, I reconsidered. How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection
“Coretta and I talked the matter over for several days and finally agreed that arms were no solution. We decided then to get rid of the one weapon we owned.”
King then hired unarmed watchmen to protect his family and their home.
Loesch is calling the history of gun-control in America racist. But what about the fact that a Black man, Philando Castile, was shot to death by a police officer even though he had a legal permit to carry a firearm