Just a few weeks after the Confederate States surrendered at Appomattox, Frederick Douglass declared:
Now, while the black man can be denied a vote, while the Legislatures of the South can take from him the right to keep and bear arms, as they can—they would not allow a negro to walk with a cane where I came from, they would not allow ﬁve of them to assemble together—the work of the Abolitionists is not finished. Notwithstanding the provision in the Constitution of the United States that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, the black man has never had the right either to keep or bear arms; and the Legislatures of the States will still have the power to forbid it, under this [Thirteenth] Amendment. They can carry on a system of unfriendly legislation, and will they not do it? Have they not got the prejudice there to do it with? (Frederick Douglass, In What New Skin Will the Old Snake Come Forth? Address delivered in New York City, May 10, 1865, pp. 83-84 [In Frederick Douglass Papers, series 1, vol. 4).
The next year, Congress recognized that disarming the freedmen was indeed part of the efforts of southern state governments and terrorist organizations to keep the freedmen in de facto servitude. So in 1866, the Second Freedmen’s Bureau bill ordered the Union army in the South to protect the freedmen’s “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and estate including the constitutional right to bear arms.” The same year, the Civil Rights Act was passed, and the Fourteenth Amendment was sent to the States for ratification. All were enacted with supporters’ expressly stated purpose of protecting the Second Amendment self-defense rights of the freedmen. McDonald v. Chicago (2010) (Thomas, J., concurring) (detailing legal history, and citing Spooner).
Whether Spooner’s 1845 approach to constitutional interpretation is the best one can be debated. It can be said that parts of his constitutional vision were so compelling–and so much in accord with natural justice–that they became the law of the land. As the Fourteenth Amendment recognizes, slavery and the constitutional right to arms are opposites.
– David Kopel in Does the Second Amendment prohibit slavery?