History

The Mulford Act: When Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Democrats Got Together To Take Black People’s Guns.

The NRA got a piece of this action too! All of them joined forces in California to repeal a...

The NRA got a piece of this action too! All of them joined forces in California to repeal a law permitting the open carry of loaded firearms. The reason that Ronald Reagan was able to pass bipartisan legislation while Governor of California in 1967 was one of the most unifying concerns of white America. The fear of black men with guns.

It started in Oakland when the Black Panther Party started engaging in what would come to be called, “Copwatching.” Armed Panther members, exercising their legal right to openly carry firearms, began observing the police while they carried out their duties, documenting misconduct and police brutality. One might reasonably ask, “Was there any evidence Oakland police was engaging in any activity worthy of being documented?” There are widely varying versions as to who was doing what during those years. What is not in dispute is that armed Black Panthers routinely followed patrol cars with both loaded weapons and the statute book governing police conduct. Passage of, The Mulford Act, did little to deescalate problems as after it became law, there were multiple shootouts between Oakland Police and Black Panther members leading to deaths on both sides. Each side claimed having been ambushed by the other.

The Mulford Act was authored by Don Mulford (R) from Oakland and cosponsored by Democrats John Knox from Richmond, Walter Karabian from Monterrey Park, Alan Sieroty from Los Angeles, and Republican William Ketchum from Bakersfield. It passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the split State Senate. During debate of the Bill, armed Black Panthers legally protested at the Capitol, perhaps guaranteeing the law’s passage. Reagan signed the bill saying, he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons” and that guns were a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” Later he said, “the Mulford Act would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” Can you imagine any Republican saying that today? Among the law’s provisions was that an officer could make an arrest without a warrant if they had good reason to believe the person carrying the gun was violating the statute. In actual use, not only Black Panthers but black people carrying guns were targeted and the law was used in a highly selective manner to target blacks and minorities. This is the same city during the same time period where the Hell’s Angels were taking root and establishing a national presence.

By the 1980s when there was no black menace threatening them, Reagan, the NRA, and the Republican Party all switched their stance on gun control. They all became 2nd Amendment hard-liners, desiring for armed citizens to be a line of defense against a tyrannical government. Today armed militias have the full support of the NRA, many politicians, and Fox News. No need to wonder if they’d feel the same if those militias were black? We’ve already seen what happens then.

Written by William Spivey
There's the writer I am and the writer I long to be. I write about race, politics, and education. I long to be a Sci/Fi/Fantasy writer, incorporating race, politics, and education, as part of an epic tale pitting good vs. evil on a vast scale. I'm shopping that book to literary agents. Putting that out in the universe. Until then, I want my voice to be heard and to make a difference. Profile

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