Those familiar with pro-gun activists know that they love a good quote. Do some surfing on pro-gun websites and you will find a cottage industry of quotations from American leaders and other voices of wisdom from throughout history. Some are legitimate, and some are completely bogus, but all are cherry-picked and presented entirely without context to suggest that their subjects hold the same pro-gun beliefs as Ted Nugent.
Even history’s greatest proponents of nonviolence are not immune from such treatment. This includes Mohandas Gandhi himself, whose words appear on countless pro-gun websites as follows: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”
Pro-gun activists frequently use those words to suggest that Gandhi supported individual gun ownership both as a means of defending oneself and as a tool to violently resist government tyranny. But are these assertions true?
In that passage, Gandhi references India’s Arms Act of 1878, which gave Europeans in India the right to carry firearms but prevented Indians from doing so, unless they were granted a license by the British colonial government. The full text of what he wrote is: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.”
These words come from a World War I recruitment pamphlet that Gandhi published in 1918, urging Indians to fight with their British colonial oppressors in the war, not against them.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Ridiculous Suggestion that Ghandi was Pro-Gun