Letter to the editor: Emmett Till points the way to gun control

The Repository

While visiting family in Mississippi in 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African American from Chicago, was brutally murdered. He was accused of flirting with and touching a young white woman. In doing so, he unwittingly violated a Jim Crow law forbidding a black male from interacting with a white female.

Several nights after the incident, the woman’s husband and brother went to Emmett's uncle's house and abducted Emmett. They then beat and mutilated him before shooting him in the head. Hoping to cover up their crime, the men sank Emmett’s body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, his mutilated and bloated body was discovered and retrieved.

Once Emmett's body was returned to Chicago, and his mother saw his mutilated remains, she decided to have an open-casket funeral so that all the world could see what racist murderers had done to her only son.

Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his open casket. Photos of Emmett’s mutilated body were published in magazines and newspapers across the nation, rallying both black support and white sympathy. It even served as a catalyst for the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, resulting in a Supreme Court ruling that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

In the same vein as Emmett’s open casket, NYU professor Susie Linfield believes “the nation should see exactly how an assault rifle pulverizes the body of a 10-year-old.”

I doubt the sight of carnage caused by assault rifles would cause Republicans to ban such weapons. Even if they did, the present Supreme Court would strike them down. Yet, it might move enough people across the country to demand a constitutional amendment banning assault weapons.

David B. McCoy, Perry Township