Cobb describes how the increasing use of federal law against lynchings in the 1950s played a part in restraining the most outrageous forms of anti-black violence, but the relatively relaxed gun control laws of the South and the widespread culture of gun ownership played a part as well. “Nighttime marauders had learned to keep a more respectful distance from their targets because the targets were increasingly prone to shoot back.” The return of so many combat-experienced black soldiers from the two wars meant that terrorizing blacks was no longer a risk-free activity (pp. 123-4). Indeed, it could and sometimes did get Klansmen killed.
April 11, 2014
‘This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed:’ Guns and the Civil Rights Movement
[Cramer is referring to Charles E. Cobb Jr. book This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible (not yet released).
As was reported in Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms (Social Institutions and Social Change) by Wright and Rossi (there is a second edition out too: Armed and Considered Dangerous: New Second Edition) violent criminals are far less concerned with the possibility of being caught, convicted, and sent to prison by the police than they are with a private citizen shooting them. The reason for this is that punishment via the legal system is at some nebulous point in the future, of relatively low probability, and most likely, of non lethal consequence. Whereas the private citizen with a gun, motivated by a violent attack on their person or a family member, is able and willing to deliver a lethal blow in seconds.
I expect the average Klansmen was of similar intelligence to the average violent criminal, of which he was subset, and could do the probabilistic calculations necessary to appropriately conclude there were more healthy life choices available.—Joe]