Every week there is a new shooting, from Mercy Hospital in Chicago to Thousands Oaks, California to a Jewish synagogue. Many people are asking, what will it take to get sensible gun control? For that answer, you can look to the past — arming Black people. If a collective of Black folks get legal guns in their hands, suddenly, Congress would make gun control a priority, if history is any indication.
By the mid 1960s, the Black Panther Party was becoming a force in Black neighborhoods across the nation, especially in Oakland, California where the organization was founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The Black Panthers understood their rights as gun owners and on May 2, 1967, they famously protested at the California statehouse with guns (of course there were no AR-15s or military style weapons). Seale said in a statement, “The time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”
Less than three months later, Ronald Reagan, then-governor of California, signed the Mulford Act, which was also called the Panther Bill, and is described as “a state bill prohibiting the open carry of loaded firearms, along with an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms in the state Capitol.”
And guess who also supported the Mulford Act? The NRA.
History.com reports, “The organization fought alongside the government for stricter gun regulations in the 1960s. This was part of an effort to keep guns out of the hands of African-Americans as racial tensions in the nation grew. The NRA felt especially threatened by the Black Panthers, whose well-photographed carrying of weapons in public spaces was entirely legal in the state of California, where they were based.”
So, if we are looking for an answer to gun control, the answer might be in 1967.