As Americans remain embroiled in a contentious debate over gun rights in the wake of last month’s deadly mass school at a Florida high school, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently shared a nuanced opinion on the topic heavily influenced by her own experiences.
Appearing on ABC’s “The View” this week, Rice declared that she is a “defender of the Second Amendment” because of the personal impact institutionalized racism had on her family during her formative years.
“I was a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the late ’50s, early ’60s,” she said, explaining the local police department and its segregationist commissioner made it clear that blacks were on their own in providing protection against the Ku Klux Klan.
“There was no way that Bull Connor and the Birmingham Police were going to protect you,” she said.
For that reason, Rice said her father and others in the neighborhood took up arms to provide the services not being provided by police.
“And so when White Knight Riders would come through our neighborhood, my father and his friends would take out their guns and they’d go to the head of the neighborhood, it’s a little cul-de-sac, and they would fire in the air if anybody came through,” she recalled.
Their motives were purely defensive, Rice explained.
“I don’t think they actually ever hit anybody,” she said. “But they protected the neighborhood.”
As for the racist police force assigned to patrol their neighborhood, Rice said she is “sure if Bull Connor had known where those guns were he would have rounded them up.”
It is that experience, she said, that has influenced her position on certain issues including her opposition to gun-registration laws.
While she champions the right of American citizens to own firearms, Rice acknowledges America must deal with its high rate of mass shootings.
“It’s not going to be any single fix to the terrible events at Parkland,” she said.
Rice went on to suggest a few critical areas of discussion as the gun-control debate plays out in Congress and in homes across the nation.
“You’re going to have to decide, well, should civilians really have access to what are really military weapons?” she said in an apparent reference to the AR-15 rifle used in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and several other massacres in recent years.
She also mentioned factors that have received some level of bipartisan support in the weeks since the latest mass shooting.
“What do we do about the age at which people can do this?” Rice asked, echoing calls to raise the minimum age required to purchase rifles and other long guns.
“And finally, let me just say we also need to realize that if you get that many tips about somebody that they’re going to cause harm, go and figure out what’s going on,” she said.
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