Gun Control and African Americans

black panthers

An inconvenient truth about gun control

As we continue to endure more frequent horrific shootings, the debate rages on about gun control. Should we focus on getting rid of high capacity assault weapons or look more closely at mental health issues.

There is a curious history about gun control and how it was enacted in California. Ironically, California has some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation. Very few people are aware of the evolution of California’s tough gun control laws and how they came to be.

During the 60’s the Black Panthers were professing their second amendment rights to protect themselves from a tyrannical government (Police) that could not or would not protect them. Does this narrative sound familiar to you?

If you recall, the Oakland Police Department was wreaking havoc on the inner-city, most notably the African-American community. Huey Newton, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party was a law student who carried a copy of the United States constitution with him to advise the black citizenry of Oakland of their constitutional rights during frequent police stops.

The coup de grace came when heavily armed Black Panthers lead by Huey Newton stormed the California Assembly in Sacramento in 1967 to profess their rights under the second amendment to bear arms. Again, this narrative resonates strongly today. The difference today is, it’s mostly angry white men of the right-wing demanding their rights under the second amendment and fearing that President Obama wants to take their guns. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This story takes a strange and ironic twist. Obviously, the site of militant ,heavily armed black men was too much to take for the overwhelmingly white California Assembly. A Republican representative by the name of Don Mulford sponsored a bill (The Mulford Act) that would usher in the nation’s most sweeping and restrictive gun laws. This bill coincidentally, was signed into law by then Republican Governor, Ronald Reagan, who was practically lifted to sainthood for those on the right since his death.

It’s hard to imagine Republicans doing this today. When all of the heated debate and rhetoric on gun control and the right to bear arms comes up, one must wonder, who’s right to bear arms are we talking about? If you read between the lines, it’s easy to come up with whom they are talking about.

The issue of armed blacks (the fear of) is nothing new. During the Jim Crow era – post-slavery, restrictive black codes as they were called in the south, were enacted to prohibit blacks from owning firearms or even a dog! Obviously, the aim of the draconian black codes was to render African-Americans, namely black men powerless to defend themselves against a racist and tyrannical government whose sole purpose was complete repression and social control of the African-American community.

Fast forward to the present and you see heavily armed whites with assault weapons, literally a few yards from President Obama! This is unprecedented, can you imagine this behavior with any of our former presidents? The fact that this behavior coincides with America having the first black president is more than a coincidence.

By all means, we as a society should do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The majority of African-Americans are law abiding citizens and should be included in this discussion.
In inner-cities across America there have been gun drives to collect all guns to stop the violence. What about the law abiding citizens who have the right to protect themselves? Can you imagine a “gun drive” in the suburbs for whites to give up their guns? It would never happen, not in a million years! If local authorities even attempted it, there would be armed insurrection.

The NRA continues to be a powerful voice for America’s enjoying their rights under the second amendment. The NRA even has a point system to grade politicians on how true (how they vote on gun issues) they are to the organization. If the politician doesn’t get with the program, political donations dry up from the NRA. Somehow, it’s hard not to think they are not talking to me or anyone who looks like me; think about it!

The Republicans pander to the NRA and the Democrats fear them. If America is to find it’s social conscience on this issue, we need to ditch the politics of gun control and do what’s best for all American’s so we can stop the unnecessary killings of thousands to these senseless shootings.

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