Mark and Paul Angler at Dissent:
Few are aware that Martin Luther King, Jr. once applied for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
In his 2011 book Gunfight, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler notes that, after King’s house was bombed in 1956, the clergyman applied in Alabama for a concealed carry permit. Local police, loathe to grant such permits to African Americans, deemed him “unsuitable” and denied his application. Consequently, King would end up leaving the firearms at home.
The lesson from this incident is not, as some NRA members have tried to suggest in recent years, that King should be remembered as a gun-toting Republican. (Among many other problems, this portrayal neglects to acknowledge how Republicans used conservative anger about civil rights advances to win over the Dixiecrat South to their side of the aisle). Rather, the fact that King would request a license to wear a gun in 1956, just as he was being catapulted onto the national stage, illustrates the profundity of the transformation that he underwent over the course of his public career.