“If you look at the early period of his leadership in the civil rights movement, particularly the period of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his household, as one person noted, was an arsenal, with guns all over the place. William Worthy, who was a journalist…tried to sit down in an armchair in Martin King’s house and was warned by Bayard Rustin, who was with him, that he was about to sit down on a couple of guns.
“King was a man of the South, after all, and he responded to terrorism, he responded to violence the way most people in the South would be inclined to respond. So when the Klan…bombed his house in 1956, he went to the sheriff’s office and applied for a gun permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“Now, he didn’t get the permit…but Martin King always acknowledged — if you read his writings — the right to self-defense, armed self-defense.”
– Charles E. Cobb, Jr. in ‘Guns Kept People Alive’ During The Civil Rights Movement [at npr.org]