Op-Ed: Why former slave states became the foundation for American gun culture
The US has a long and rich tradition of supporting gun rights both at home and abroad.
In the past decades, American gun culture has been largely shaped by slave states like Virginia and the Carolinas, which had the highest concentrations of African slave populations in the country.
On this front, the history of the US’s gun culture has been well documented, but it’s often overlooked that during the period that slavery has been the dominant force behind the US gun culture, the state of Virginia was also a major center for gun culture in the US.
Virginia was one of the most influential states in the founding of the modern US gun tradition. In fact, in 1817, when the Declaration of Independence was signed and the nation was born, nearly three-quarters of Virginians had guns in their homes.
But in the years following the Revolutionary War, there was a sharp, dramatic reduction in gun ownership in the state.
By the late-19th century, about two-thirds of Virginia households had a gun of one kind or another, according to the University of Virginia’s Center for Gun Control Research. Virginia gun ownership had dropped to below 50% during the second half of the 19th century.
By the time the Civil War came around, there were just over a quarter of Virginia households that owned a gun of any kind.
But the Civil War was also a sharp moment for gun culture at the state level, particularly at the national level.
With the battle over slavery becoming a central battle in the nation’s consciousness, the American civil War became a turning point for gun advocates. The states that had supported slavery during the nation’s founding ― such as Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky ― began to increasingly resist the movement towards abolition.
Virginia gun culture was particularly affected by this conflict: when the pro-slavery forces began their push to defeat the federal government in the war, they sought to replace the state governments that had fought for slavery with the federal government.
At that time, the Virginia legislature passed a law requiring the state’s legislators to support or oppose any federal gun control regulation.
The Virginia General Assembly passed a law that required its members to vote on a federal gun control initiative that would come before the