After 'Gun Appreciation Day,' Organizers Invoke 'Django Unchained' for Follow-Up Campaign
A controversial group's new effort dubbed "What Would Django Do?" looks to bring minorities to its side in the debate over gun control.
Quentin Tarantino is on record blaming firearms for recent mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere. So it might come as a surprise to him that a pro-gun group is invoking the director’s current film, Django Unchained, in an effort to woo African-Americans to their side in the debate over gun control.
The group is called Political Media, and it's the same entity that was behind Saturday’s controversial Gun Appreciation Day, which encouraged Americans to show up at various places with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and signs reading, “Hands off my guns.” Larry Ward, president of Political Media, a company that designs websites and organizes ad campaigns for right-of-center organizations, said hundreds of thousands of people participated in Gun Appreciation Day, crowding gun stores and gun shows and demonstrating at various state capitals nationwide.
He’s hoping for similar success with his follow-up effort, dubbed “What Would Django Do?” Ward plans not only a campaign but a nonprofit organization that would bear the name, though he acknowledges he hasn’t sought permission from Tarantino or from The Weinstein Co., the studio behind Django Unchained.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Ward said. “We’ll make sure we aren’t violating copyrights, and if we are, we’ll have to change the name. But Django is perfect for what we’re trying to do, which is to promote gun rights to minorities. We’ll tackle the issue on the Democrats’ own turf.”
The Weinstein Co. did not respond to a request for comment. Tarantino’s views on guns, though, have been known for a long time, and they do not coincide with those of Ward, who believes law-abiding citizens should have the right to own the guns they choose.
In 1994, for example, Tarantino told Playboy magazine: “If gun control were to happen in America, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. Gun control would probably do wonders here.” More recently, he told NPR (and others) that violent movies don’t encourage gun violence, saying, “Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health."
Ward is partnering on What Would Django Do? with Farley, a principal at The Warren Group, which helps to advance “progressive” causes, putting Farley at odds with his colleagues when it comes to gun control (The Warren Group is not involved in What Would Django Do?)
In his article, called What Would Django Do? Arms and ‘The Man,’ Farley pores through history in support of his idea that blacks should shun gun control, citing such people as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a black author who wrote Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.
Farley writes: “Wells, who, like me, had to flee Klan supporters in Tennessee after writing a newspaper article, said that ‘a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home.’ ”
Farley also notes that Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a gun permit, but pro-segregation authorities denied him, and he says influential black Americans like Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X argued in favor of the Second Amendment. Slavery in America wouldn’t have existed if blacks were armed, he argues, and in the article he notes that when a Negro Rifle Club was to be organized in Cleveland during the Civil Rights Movement, local racists rioted, even killing a man with a bulldozer.
“Racism in America is now gone like an exorcized ghost, but African-Americans would do well to remember our history when it comes to gun control,” Farley wrote.
If it gets traction, the What Would Django Do? campaign is bound to generate plenty of controversy, as did Gun Appreciation Day. Just prior to that event, for example, watchdog group Media Matters for America listed an entire page of links under the heading, “What the media should know about Gun Appreciation Day.” Headlines included, “Gun Appreciation Day is sponsored by a white nationalist party” and “Gun Appreciation Day backs Republicans' impeachment threat.”
Farley says the goal of What Would Django Do? is fourfold: to propose gun-safety training courses in schools; ensure that all schools welcome the presence of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC); recruit veterans to teach gun safety to inner-city youth and engage them in community activities; and petition the NRA to “condemn the racist Mulford Act of 1967,” which restricted the display of loaded firearms and Farley says was enacted by the California Assembly in order to disarm black Americans.