in 1956, after King’s house was bombed, King applied for a concealed carry permit in Alabama. The local police had discretion to determine who was a suitable person to carry firearms. King, a clergyman whose life was threatened daily, surely met the requirements of the law, but he was rejected nevertheless. At the time, the police used any wiggle room in the law to discriminate against African Americans.
Ironically, the concealed carry permit law in Alabama was promoted by the National Rifle Association thirty years earlier. Today, the gun rights hardliners fight to eliminate permits for concealed carry, as Arizona has done.
Eventually, King gave up any hope of armed self-defense and embraced nonviolence more completely. Others in the civil rights movement, however, embraced the gun.
One of the most indelible images of the 1960s is a photograph from Life magazine of Malcolm X looking out a window with a long M-1 carbine in his hands, the rifle pointed up to the sky. For blacks unhappy with the progress achieved by King’s marches, the gun became a symbol of the “by any means necessary” philosophy.
From Adam Winkler: MLK and His Guns
So the moral of the story seems to be; if you want popular support for gun control, get infamous black people to pose with guns.