Here is what Dr. King said after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963,
Our late President was assassinated by a morally inclement climate. It is a climate filled with heavy torrents of false accusation, jostling winds of hatred, and raging storms of violence.
It is a climate where men cannot disagree without being disagreeable, and where they express dissent through violence and murder. It is the same climate that murdered Medgar Evers in Mississippi and six innocent Negro children in Birmingham, Alabama.
So in a sense we are all participants in that horrible act that tarnished the image of our nation. By our silence, by our willingness to compromise principle, by our constant attempt to cure the cancer of racial injustice with the Vaseline of gradualism, by our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing, by allowing all these developments, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.
Much like President Obama today, Dr. King believed that the readiness of our culture to allow guns to be purchased and fired at will was a moral issue. Judging from these words, Dr. King would definitely not be siding with the NRA’s position that the answer to gun violence is more guns. Events like Gun Appreciation Day spit on the very values of civil disobedience and non-violence that Martin Luther King fought and died for.
It is quite likely that Dr. King would have been speaking out against the culture of violence and fear that the NRA and Republicans exploit for political and financial gain. The idea that violence can be reduced by the threat of more violence is nauseating to people who believe in non-violence. Dr. King owned guns in the mid-1950s, but his attitude on the role of guns in violence is best reflected in the above quoted 1963 comments.
Martin Luther King certainly thought that the Second Amendment wasn’t an unrestricted right after President Kennedy was assassinated, so any claims that Gun Appreciation Day is an honor to the legacy of a man who fought for change through non-violent civil disobedience and died by an assassin’s bullet demonstrate the intolerable depravity of some Second Amendment extremists.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association