Civil Rights Leader and Gun-Owner Martin Luther King, Jr.

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by Aaron Samsel Guns.com

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known as a man of profound peace, who applied Gandhi's teachings of non-violent direct action to the plight of oppressed blacks in America, of course setting the stage for the Civil Rights movement. It then may come as a surprise to some that the Reverend King, in keeping in line with Gandhi, believed strongly in the human right to self-defense and had even applied for a handgun carry permit after his house had been bombed to defend his family from the bigoted minds of that era. He was denied.

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler explains King's relationship with firearms in his book Gunfight. He writes:

Most people think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the 1956, as the civil rights movement heated up, King turned to firearms for self-protection and he even applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

This was not out of the norm for Civil Rights organizers in the 1950s and 60s, nor was it the only weapon King kept around him. On the receiving end of countless death threats from both civilians and law enforcement, armed supporters took turns guarding King's home and family after his permit was denied knowing too well that the Klan was targeting him for assassination and they would likely receive little assistance from the local authorities.

Indeed William Worthy, a black journalist who covered King in the 1950s, reported that he once went to sit down on an armchair in the King's living room and almost sat on a loaded gun. King's advisor Glenn Smiley described the great pacifist's home as containing “an arsenal.”

John Salter John Salter is attacked at a sit-in protest in Mississippi.

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