Anderson Pens Op-Ed in ‘The Guardian’: “America’s gun obsession is rooted in slavery”

Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies Dr. Carol Anderson recently wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian. Titled “America’s gun obsession is rooted in slavery,” the article discusses how revolts led by the enslaved, including in the mid-eighteenth century, influenced the framers to cement the right to bear arms and maintain militias in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Anderson connects this history to contemporary discourses around guns, violence, and race. The piece stems from Anderson’s newest book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (Bloomsbury, 2021). Read an excerpt below, along with the full article.

“This function of the militias was so important during the war of independence that governments such as that in South Carolina devoted the lion’s share of their white manpower to the containment of the enslaved. As a result, the colony did not have enough white men to join the Continental Army and repel the British. The calculus was simple: it was more important to the plantation owners in the colonial government to maintain slavery and control Black people than to fight for American independence.

“In other words, concerns about keeping enslaved Black people in check are the context and background to the second amendment. The same holds true for today.”