This book argues that nonviolence in the American Civil Rights movement was a tactic used by its leaders, rather than a steadfast belief of its grassroots members, who saw violence as an acceptable form of self-defense (p. 11). It is a thorough history of the practice of armed self-defense amongst blacks fighting for civil rights. It is often forgotten, for example, that Second Amendment rights were amongst those denied to African-Americans for generations (p. 45). Early attempts at registering guns in the South were specifically intended to track blacks who owned firearms (p. 125). The author wades into the complex history between blacks and whites in the South and their firearms, and in doing so helps to flesh out the history of the civil rights era.