Back in 1967, a group of armed Black Panthers gathered at the California capitol to protest police brutality. The Black Panthers wanted to tell state legislators that if they couldn’t rein in law enforcement agencies in Southern California, the black community would have to handle policing of their own neighborhoods.

At that time, what they were doing was completely legal in California. Open carry of a loaded firearm was legal. Only concealed carry was restricted and licensed.

Members of the California Assembly were upset. One of their number, a white conservative from the San Francisco Bay area named Don Mulford, quickly composed a new piece of legislation. The Assembly quickly passed it and it went to then-governor Ronald Reagan, who quickly signed it into law.

The Mulford Act made it illegal to openly carry a loaded gun for the first time in the state’s history. A Californian could still carry a gun but it had to be unloaded. A person could have ammunition in a pocket, just not in the gun.

Anybody that thinks the Jim Crow era has passed into history just isn’t paying attention.

No wonder that blacks comprise one of the fast-growing groups of persons with concealed-carry permits. It’s bad enough that the homicide rate for black males 18–34 is more than four times higher than it is for non-Hispanic white males in the same age group, but they may need to follow in the footsteps of the Black Panthers and threaten to form their own police force.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of

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