Boston University Professor: Second Amendment is Based on “Freedom to Enslave”

As we wait for the release of the most significant Second Amendment case in over a decade from the Supreme Court (as early as tomorrow), CBS featured Ibram X. Kendi on Face the Nation on gun rights. Host Margaret Brennan discussed with the Boston University professor how “freedom to enslave” was linked to the “freedom to have guns.” There was no push back on that controversial claim or the underlying suggestion that gun ownership is largely a white impulse or practice.

Kendi is the director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. He has a history of controversial statements like his claim that Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s adoption of two Haitian children raised the image of a “white colonizer” and she appears to use the children as little more than props. He has also declared that terms like “legal vote” are racist. He was recently in the news after explaining why he took a white doll away from his daughter to prevent her from breathing in “the ‘smog’ of white superiority.”

However,  this is a historical and constitutional claim that should not go without some factual discussion or response.

Kendi portrayed gun ownership in strictly racial terms:

“Enslaved people were fighting for freedom from slavery, and enslavers were fighting for the freedom to enslave, and in many ways, that sort of contrast still exists today. There are people who are fighting for freedom from assault rifles, freedom from poverty, freedom from exploitation, and there are others who are fighting for freedom to exploit, freedom to have guns, freedom to maintain inequality.”

The portrayal of gun owners as “fighting for freedom to exploit, freedom to have guns, freedom to maintain inequality” received no follow up question or challenge in the interview.

Other academics have made this same historical claim. Historian Carol Anderson claims that

“the Second Amendment “provided the cover, the assurances that Patrick Henry and George Mason needed, that the militias would not be controlled by the federal government, but that they would be controlled by the states and at the beck and call of the states to be able to put down these uprisings.”

The ACLU has echoed such views.  NPR breathlessly billed its interview as “Historian Carol Anderson Uncovers The Racist Roots Of The Second Amendment.”

However, the history of the Second Amendment contradicts these claims. States opposed to slavery, like Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, had precursor state constitutional provisions recognizing the right to bear arms. In his famous 1770 defense of Capt. Thomas Preston in the Boston Massacre trial, John Adams declared that British soldiers had a right to defend themselves since “here every private person is authorized to arm himself.” His second cousin and co-Founding Father, Samuel Adams, was vehemently anti-slavery and equally supportive of the right to bear arms.

Samuel Adams proclaimed “the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms…”

Guns were viewed as essential in much of America, which was then a frontier nation, needed for food — but also to protect a free people from tyranny and other threats. (The Minutemen at Concord, after all, were not running to a Klan meeting in 1775.) Law enforcement was relatively scarce at the time, even in the more populous states.

This argument is maintained despite the fact that a quarter of African Americans are gun owners (compared with 36 percent of whites) and gun sales have been increasing in the African American community. Some African Americans have long viewed guns as an equalizer, including escaped slave and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who, in an editorial, heralded the power of “a good revolver, a steady hand.” Gun ownership has a long, fiercely defended tradition in the Black community. Indeed, Ida B. Wells, one of the most prominent anti-lynching activists, declared: “The Winchester Rifle deserves a place of honor in every Black home.”

Here is the interview:


181 thoughts on “Boston University Professor: Second Amendment is Based on “Freedom to Enslave””

  1. Boston Univ. That’s the same place where AOC got an economics degree? Boston U is putting out defective products that need to be recalled.

  2. Jonathan: Sorry, I side with Professor Kendi and historian Carol Anderson. You say the “history” of the 2nd Amendment “contradicts” the claims of Kendi and Anderson. Actually it doesn’t. Although there were some other reasons, the 2nd Amendment is rooted in slavery. When Madison, a slaveholder and your favorite among the Founders, was drafting the 2nd Amendment he had politics uppermost in his mind. Virginia Governor Patrick Henry opposed ratification of the Constitution if that meant undermining the ability of Virginian militias and elsewhere in the south to suppress slave uprisings and to pursue run-away slaves. That required guns. Lot’s of them. It took 2 drafts for Madison to get the Amendment into a single sentence satisfactory to southern slaveholders and politicians. But only white men in the Virginia militia had the right to bear arms. Free former slaves could join the militias but were limited to being drummers or buglers. Whites in the South feared Black people with guns–and for good reason. The views of Kenji and Anderson are shared by many other historians. I could cite them here but check out the literature yourself.

    Citing John Adams in his defense of Capt. Preston in the 1770 famous Boston Massacre trial does not add to your argument. While Adams and his wife Abigail were opposed to slavery they benefited from the institution in many ways. Adams believed slaves should be freed in a “gradual” way. He opposed the radical abolitionists that were, in his words “produc[ing] greater violations of Justice and Humanity, than the continuance of the practice”. This comes to another reason that those in the North opposed slavery but still supported the right to bear arms. The British army and navy who still posed a threat–see the War of 1812. A “well regulated militia” provided defense against British military aggression. But even in the North there were restrictive gun laws. Freed slaves were not in the category of those entitled to “bear arms”. And there was a third reason guns were necessary. As you say we were a “frontier nation”. The westward expansion required a lot of guns to expel and kill Native-Americans who often fought back against encroachment of their lands. But, hey, indigenous peoples had no recorded “deeds” to their land so it was open season for settlers to steal it! This genocide was carried out first by white settlers and later by the US cavalry. But the red thread that runs through the history of the 2nd Amendment was the need to protect the institution of slavery.

    Now the reactionary majority on the SC is about to strike down a reasonable NY control law that will give every red-blooded American the right to carry around a gun anywhere, anytime and in the open. It’s the “wild west” all over again. Will that make us safer? The recent wave of mass killings makes that prospect unlikely. And, yeah, Black people are buying more guns–probably not to the liking of many white people. After the murder of George Floyd, the mass shooting of Black shoppers in Buffalo, et al, wouldn’t you want a gun for protection if you were an African American? That’s the least persuasive of your arguments.

    Frankly, I think we need to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Many western countries don’t have the equivalent of our 2nd Amendment and they have far less gun violence than we do. What do they know that we have yet to figure out? But here at home we are in love with guns. They give us a false sense of “safety” and “security”. Your column could have written by the NRA. You are their perfect spokesperson!

    1. You are partly correct – but RADICALLY INCOMPLETE regarding the history of the 2nd amendment.

      Northern states EXPLICITLY wanted an individual right to bear arms in the bill of rights.

      Madision EXPLICITLY attempted to thread the needle and come up with language that northern states could sell one way, and southern states another. But in All cases there was a right of free men to bear arms – the open question was whether the guns could be over the hearth or in the local armory. Southerners explicitly wanted a right of freemen to bear arms – but sufficient state control that it woul be hard for rebellious slaves to get guns.

      But the HUGE problem is not the 2nd but the 14th amendments. The privileges and immensities clause had significant date, and ONE of several reasons for it that were made explicit in the public debate was to assure freed southern blacks the right to own guns as that was viewed as the only means of securing their freedom.

      Ultimately – like the Bill of rights, the reconstruction amendments were castrated by the courts and made into far less than they were intended.
      Southern democrats passed some of the first gun control laws targeting blacks. and the courts turned a blind eye.

    2. Yep Mew Yorks “reasonable” (predictably unconstitutional and stupid) laws have resulted in a nationwide normalization of gun carry rights.

      The fundamental error that NY made is pretending that people had to justify the need to exercise a right, and worse excepting few justifications.

      Regardless, states can still have carry permits, and they can still deny them for reasonable and enumerated reasons. Such as prior crimes.

      I would note that this is little different from nearly all government permits and licenses. If government conditions a right – or offers a privildge, with rare exceptions that right or priviledge is available to all, and can only be denied for very specific reasons.

    3. Go ahead and repeal the 2nd amendment.

      All of us would be perfectly happy to see those on the left actually work within the framework of the constitution.

      Many other nations do not have a 2nd amendment – and they do have less gun violence.

      Some even have lower rates of murder.

      That said throughout the world there is only one solid correlation between violent crimes – such as murder, and that is with race.

      You can predict the rate of violent crime in nearly every country by multiplying the rate of violence for a given race by the percent of that race in that country and get very close to the overall rate of violence.

      The same is true within the US.

      There has never been compelling evidence that the prevalence of guns increases violence.
      There is some evidence it decreases it.

      We had a nice controlled experiment between AU and NZ for two decades – before NZ enacted draconian gun laws.

      AU had some of the most draconian in the world, NZ had laws similar to the US, both had similar populations.
      There was no difference in overall rates of violence.

      AU saw a dramatic drop int he rate of gun violence after passing draconian laws, but even mass killings remained approximately the same – the mass killers just shifted to arson.

      This is a common flaw of those on the left – blaming things rather than people. Things do not commit crimes – people do.

      Dead is dead – whether with a gun or a knife.

      But like usual the left seeks magical solutions to problems using government force without even pretending that they need to work.

  3. The reason that the 2nd amendment exist is so that the people would have the right and the means enforce the rest of the constitution.

    1. Why is it in this Nation the Sovereigns, the Citizen Owners, do not get a Direct Vote on whether or not to surrender our property, like in regards to say the 1st thru 10 of the “Bill Of Rights”?

      Those sold out Aholes in Govt do not even give the Owners “Due Process Right”. Like these Red Flag Laws or the US/Mex Border.

      It seems to me to many Owners/Citizens just go “Oh Well,” the govt can just have their way with them.

      Those people that do so are nothing more then Broke Powerless Slaves, they should leave us, go Commie China/Africa, etc.

  4. On the topic of blacks and racism, gay black Democrat Andrew Gillum is in the news, and has hired Marc Elias as his attorney.

    Andrew Gillum indicted on fraud charges stemming from his time as Tallahassee mayor

    Andrew Gillum has released the following statement:

    “I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people. Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now”.

    Black gay men have it harder than any other group of gays precisely because blacks in America discriminate against gays more than Hispanics. Gillum is a handsome black man, gifted at a young age with leadership skills and charisma. His denying his homosexuality is one thing, but being caught with a gay muscle rentboy prostitute in South Beach, messed up on crystal meth, naked on video, was his undoing. That he continues to lie with his farcical “truth to power” quip, does great harm to himself, his family but more importantly to black gay men and women. Black gay men have the highest prevalence of HIV and other STDs than any other demographic group, in large part because their black family and peers discriminate them harshly. It is a conversation blacks do not want to have, opting instead to blame “systemic” racism on their health woes. Blacks are as racist to each other as any other group. That Marc Elias is representing Gillum shows how deep in trouble his double life has cost him.

    Discrimination exists alright, especially blacks towards gay men and women.

    1. Where was the pre-dawn FBI raid with weapons drawn and a CNN crew ready to film his arrest? I must have missed that.

    2. Just imagine how bad Florida would be Ph’ked up today had that Racist Sodomite had won instead of DeSantis.

      Hell, he may have went along with shooting up lil childs with those Pharma deadly mRNA shots.

      Just think what America would look like if Hunter & Ashley Biden’s Pedo dad had won the presidency instead of Trump winning.


    America is not concerned with the incessant, incoherent caterwauling of parasitic dependent illegal aliens, America is concerned with fundamental law, which holds dominion.

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


    infringe verb

    in·​fringe | \ in-ˈfrinj
    infringed; infringing
    Definition of infringe

    transitive verb

    1 : to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another – infringe a patent

    2 obsolete : defeat, frustrate

  6. This discussion is moot.

    Abraham Lincoln taught Americans to disobey law and fundamental law.

    This “descendant” is an illegal alien per the legislation of the American Founders and Framers.

    As “original intent” in four deliberate, unequivocal iterations, 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802, the Naturalization Act of 1802 was in full force and effect in 1863.

    Naturalization Act of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802

    United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…

    The question is, which laws shall Americans obey?

    Illegal aliens illegally pour over the border, unabated, by the millions – an egregious, colossal crime and crime of high office – an invasion.

    4 million illegal aliens illegally remained in the United States in 1863 when contemporary immigration law required compassionate repatriation to the country of origin.

    Karl Marx’s “…RECONSTRUCTION of a social world…” was achieved by, not one, but three (a virtually impossible feat) improperly ratified “RECONSTRUCTION Amendments,” forcibly imposed with a gun to America’s head.

    The question is, which laws shall Americans obey?

    1. George, where in the Naturalization Acts does it say that free blacks shall be repatriated to their country of origin? Also, did Congress consider the Naturalization Acts to be temporary laws since they repeated the language 3 times in successive Acts? To the extent that the Naturalization Acts were still in effect, didn’t they become moot with the adoption of the 14th amendment?

  7. Should millions of Ukrainian refugees file a class action lawsuit against the Russian Federation?

  8. Come on people. You had to know Spivey was licking his chops when this post was published. He makes Kendi appear brilliant and that’s no insignificant feat. Listen to Kendi define racism and then ask yourself what is the likelihood that Spivey is on the threshold of enlightenment? It’s not going to happen.

    1. I almost missed this as it wasn’t directed to me specifically. I don’t lick my chops when Turley distorts history, I just pointed out the areas where he was disingenuous (lying). I agreed with portions of what he said.

  9. I once knew a man who would ask his sevev year old daughter, “What do we do with n——-s.” The daughter was required to answer, “ We shoot em.” How is this any different from Kendi taking a white doll from his child because he hates the white man. I thought the white guy was a terrible man. Thankfully he worked at Pizza Hut and he had no power. Unfortunately his black counterpart is a man who has received honor in our present day. Anything that the white guy said should be met with the highest condemnation and so should be the racist comments of this black man. He seems to have found the path to the wealth of the race baiter but he should be recognized for what he is.

    1. “I once knew a man who would ask his seven year old daughter, “What do we do with n——-s.” The daughter was required to answer, “ We shoot em.” How is this any different from Kendi taking a white doll from his child because he hates the white man. ”

      You really can’t tell the difference between shooting people and taking a doll away?

      There are other reasons to take away or more likely not give a Black child a white doll. That having to do with creating a positive self-image and not instilling appearance values they cannot meet. I have nine granddaughters, I have given many dolls including white ones, if I gave a white doll I probably included a Black one as well.

  10. Oh…, I should’ve mentioned I take no issue with Kendi’s quote. It’s on the money.

    The banned one

  11. Truthfully, while Rhode Island eventually became anti slavery, Newport at one time was a big slaving Port. In fact many who passed through were named>> Newport.

    Interesting article today on the heels of Lady Ruby’s testimony about the near lynching party at her house in Georgia after she fought off trump defamation on her election worker efforts. Or the near lynching party of January 6 in general.

    But noted: this is the copy you have for us today.

    The banned one

  12. Spivey (enigma) states: His goal is to make his voice heard and make a difference. His own blog has about 2,700 followers, which is slightly more than my grand champion Golden Retriever whose goal is to get paid for getting laid.

    Kendi is everything Spivey wants to be. Kendi’s a Capitalist masquerading as a Marxist. Spivey’s a Capitalist masquerading as Kendi. How unoriginal and indistinct.

    1. My WordPress Blog has about 2,700 followers though I haven’t been active in years. I publish primarily in Medium where I have 11,000 plus followers which is relatively good for Medium, I publish in multiple other publications where I honestly don’t know their reach. I have two Facebook Groups with over 5,000 followers and have a chapter in a anthology, “Fieldnotes on Allyship: Achieving Equality Together,” and am working to finish a manuscript for a novel. I don’t consider any of that significant but on many subjects I am in the top 5 Google results. My work, possibly unlike your Golden Retriever, will live forever on the Internet. Does this count as you attacking the messenger and not the message?

  13. Jonathan: In your column on 6/11 you complained about protests outside Amy Coney Barrett’s home. You said “many on the left … have discarded any sense of civility or decency…”. If you watched the Jan. 6 hearing yesterday you heard state election officials and an election worker describe the outrageous threats they received after they refused to cave in to Donald Trump’s demands to overturn the 2020 election results.

    Georgia Secy of State Brad Raffensperger described the threats he and his wife received from Trump supporters. He and his wife got threats that were hateful and sexualized. He testified that Trump supporters broke into his daughter-in-law’s house. Other Georgia election officials received similar threats–as did officials in other states. Trump went so far as to tweet the personal cellphone of a GOP state senator in Michigan who says he received 4,000 threatening text messages. Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea Moss, who were Georgia election workers, were falsely accused by Trump and Rudy Giuliani of tampering with the ballots. Trump mentioned them by name during his Jan. 2, 2021 phone call with Raffensperger. Moss lost her job and Freeman had to move out of her home for 2 months after the FBI said it was not safe.

    Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testified in detail about the relentless pressure he was under by Trump and Giuliani to change the election results. When Bowers asked Giuliani for evidence of “election fraud” in Arizona’s election Trump’s lawyer said: “We’ve got lots of theories, but we just don’t have the evidence”. When Bowers pressed, Giuliani said he would provide it. He never did. Bowers described the threats he received after he refused Trump’s demands. There were frequent protests outside his home. His daughter was inside the house, gravely ill, and told her father the loud protests were very “disturbing”. Bowers says that during one protest there was a truck with loudspeakers loudly accusing Bowers of being a pedophile. He said one protester carried a gun and wore a symbol of the “Three percenters”, a far-right group involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    When it comes to a lack of “civility and decency” this doesn’t begin to describe what happened to state election officials and election workers. Trump and his supporters engaged in a relentless campaign of intimidation and threats of violence. Amy Coney Barrett didn’t have to endure anything close to this. No doubt you will ignore yesterday’s testimony by Raffensperger, et al, because it does not fit into your paradigm that the “left” is the real threat. The real threat is from Trump and the right.

    1. Georgia Secy of State Brad Raffensperger described the threats he and his wife received from Trump supporters. ”

      I hear down there on Peach Road they call him “Juicy”! I’m also betting it happened in -20 degree weather in Atlanta while the family was all out shopping for bologna and ketchup subs from Subway. Oh the bleach!!

    2. There is certainly a difference between threats and actual instances of violence. None of the people who supposedly threatened “elections officials” shot them with a high-powered rifle (as happened to Rep. Steve Scalise, who nearly died) or sought to assassinate them at their homes (as happened to Justice Kavanagh). Almost all of the actual violence in this country really does come from the Left.

      1. Rumor has it, this Friday will release their decision on things like gun control and Roe v Wade.

        The pro-abortion rights group, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, Tweeted this: “We aren’t incubators! Youth procession delivered baby dolls to Amy Coney Barrett. We aren’t protesting to change the minds of women-hating fascists. We’re calling on the pro-choice majority, on YOU, to get in the streets to STOP #SCOTUS from overturning Roe,”

        The pro-abortion rights group, Jane’s Revenge, is allegedly circulating flyers around the DC area to “DC CALL TO ACTION NIGHT OF RAGE … THE NIGHT SCOTUS OVD.CTURNS ROE V. WADE HIT THE STREETS YOU SAID YOU’D RIOT.” and ‘TO OUR OPPRESSORS: IF ABORTIONS AREN’T SAFE, YOU’RE NOT EITHER.’ JANE’S REVENGE.”

        Could be a interesting day.

    3. “When it comes to a lack of “civility and decency” this doesn’t begin to describe what happened to” innocent Americans during the some 350 BLM/Antifa riots.

  14. Hopefully the big guy will stay at the Delaware beach house forever. That way he won’t be able to. Hurt us anymore than he has.

  15. We all get upset at the ignorance, arrogance and hatred of Ibram Kendi but the fact is that he is just a GRIFTER. He got his degree in a GRIFT subject, he got into college with a GRIFT affirmative action, he got his teaching job with the college professor GRIFT, he ha gotten millions after the “summer of love” riots due to his GRIFT. This guy is just a prettier, thinner Patrice Cullors of BLM and four mansions fame.

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