The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. became one of America's most famous victims of gun violence when he was shot and killed on a Memphis hotel in 1968. As the nation prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of the holiday honoring King's birthday, a closer look at his life reveals a complicated relationship with guns.

Some in the civil rights movement saw guns as a necessary means of self-defense. Those close to King say he owned a gun briefly early in the movement, but say he soon got rid of the weapon.

President Barack Obama recently invoked King in urging Americans to curb gun violence in the wake of mass shootings, urban violence and the killings of unarmed black males by police.