An opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle observes that open carry was once the law of the land in California, abolished only after armed Black Panthers came to a political gathering at the state Capitol on May 3, 1967.
The gathering featured a newly elected governor named Ronald Reagan (R), and the crowd on the Capitol steps watched as Black Panthers approached, guns in hand.
According to the Chronicle’s opinion piece:
About two dozen African American men and women, some wearing leather jackets and black berets, started toward the Capitol carrying rifles, shotguns and pistols. They were not holding the weapons in a threatening manner; they were pointing them in the air as they marched into the building. The news horde — with cameras rolling — stumbled backward ahead of them, up the carpeted inner stairs and into the chamber of the Assembly, where a session was under way.
One of the armed Panther’s allegedly found a cameraman who would film him and decried “the racist California Legislature” for “keeping the black people disarmed and powerless.”
The author of the opinion piece, Warren Olney–who was with KRON-TV at the time–recalls that three State Capitol Police officers arrived after about five minutes and asked the Panthers to hand over their weapons. He says the Panthers complied without incident.
History reports that the Black Panthers who showed up that day announced, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”
Soon thereaftter the California legislation passed the Mulford Act, banning the open carry of loaded firearms. The bill included “an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms in the state Capitol.”
UCLA law professor Adam Winkler observed, “The law was part of a wave of laws that were passed in the late 1960s regulating guns, especially to target African-Americans.” He also pointed to the Gun Control Act of 1968, “which adopted new laws prohibiting certain people from owning guns, providing for beefed up licensing and inspections of gun dealers and restricting the importation of cheap Saturday night specials [pocket pistols] that were popular in some urban communities.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.