Gun Control an Issue Only if You’re the Right Color?

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been fascinated by the arguments and wrangling over gun control – specifically, not understanding why some think that banning assault weapons and magazines which have more than seven rounds of ammunition does NOT mean anyone is proposing that nobody own a gun.

But I am even more fascinated that the idol of modern-day Conservatives, Ronald Reagan, actually signed into a law a bill that repealed a law that had permitted citizens to carry loaded weapons in public places. The so-called Mulford Act was signed into law in 1967, when Reagan was governor of California. The measure was introduced by Dan Mulford, an East Bay legislator.

Apparently, some Americans were a bit nervous about the work of the Black Panthers, who back then, had formed “police patrols.” Members of these groups would listen on scanners for police calls and when something was happening in the black community, would rush to the scene, “law books in hand and inform the person being arrested of their  constitutional rights.” (http://www.pbs.org/hueypnewton/actions/action_capitolmarch.html) These individuals would also carry loaded weapons, which they apparently displayed….but “they were careful to stand no closer than ten feet from the arrest so as to not interfere with the arrest.”

When the Mulford Bill was passed, members of the Black Panther Party protested, and went to Sacramento, carrying their loaded weapons (including rifles and shotguns).

According to a piece that appeared on the site “Keep and Bear Arms” (http://keepandbeararms.com/newsarchives?XcNewsPlus.asp) Reagan “imposed gun control on America.”  According to the article, “Reagan declared his support for  a bill requiring a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases.” The site confirms the fact that “Governor Ronald Reagan …signed the Mulford Act of 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place, or on any public street.”  The law, says the article, “was aimed at stopping Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.”

The saddest thing about this entire gun control debate is that it really shows that the country really is not able or willing to deal with the proliferation of guns that exist in urban areas, where young men are shooting young men, most often poor and black. There are babies, black and brown babies, being slaughtered every day on city streets, but nobody really seems to care. There has been no cry for gun control on a level that would impinge upon ownership of handguns. If that were the case, there would be some legitimacy to the hue and cry that the call for the control of the sale and ownership of guns would be threatening the general right of people to own guns.

The fact that the Conservative’s darling, Ronald Reagan, signed the Mulford Act because he wanted to get assault weapons out of the hands of the Black Panthers says volumes about his feelings on race. If whites had shown up at arrest sites with loaded weapons, presumably to protect other whites from possible mistreatment by and from law enforcement, would the Mulford Act have been introduced?

What people are protesting today is valid; there is no need for anyone in an American city to have a military-style assault weapon.  Most of the massacres we have seen, with young men using these types of weapons, have involved young white men. If the majority of these attacks had been carried out by African-American men, would the protest against banning their sale and use be as vehement?  Would a law, similar to the 1967 Mulford Act, have already been passed?

Someone is going to groan, and say I am playing the race card, but the card has been played already by some, including Anne Coulter. The biggest problem with guns, she says, is in the inner cities of America. Perhaps, she again said, it is a problem of demographics…Her statements are telling, though, because even with the high number of homicides in urban areas, there is no cry for gun control. The cry from those protesting gun control is that “we need to protect ourselves” from government tyranny and thugs.

The thugs they’re talking about are not the troubled young men who have committed mass murders. The young men who carried the assault weapons and carried out such heinous crimes seemed to have come from nice …suburban, white homes.

A candid observation …

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Comments

  1. Amen! I agree with your analysis and arguments. The policies behind legislation is always very revealing.

  2. very interesting.

  3. Caroline says:

    Very interesting. I didn’t know about that Act being signed into law because of fear of The Black Panthers, but it doesn’t surprise me. Nevermind that The Black Panthers were also carrying law books to read them their rights that surely weren’t being given to them by the white police officers. All America saw was black thugs with guns. Very unfortunate.

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