The Mulford Act: When Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Democrats Got Together To Take Black…

Photo: twitter.com

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.

An Open Letter To #NeverAgain. Make A Difference!


To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.


  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.


You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

An Open Letter To The #NeverAgain Movement. Make A Difference!

To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.

a a a a a a a a #neverd

  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.

a a a a a a a a #neverr

You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

When They Start Shooting Republicans

On June 14, 2017, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson shot up a baseball diamond where a Republican Congressional baseball team was practicing in advance of their annual game against the Democrats. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was critically injured and three others were shot by the assailant. Hodgkinson himself was shot and killed by the security detail that accompanied Scalise, a member of leadership in the House.

I had something to say at the time, but elected to wait, listen, and watch the fallout from the event. As America learned more about the shooter and Monday morning quarterbacks told us the reasoning behind his actions. We were told of his support for Bernie Sanders and his progressive leanings. I heard tales of the rise of left wing radical groups and the threat they present to conservatives Americans. I heard about how Democrats needed to tone down their anti-Trump rhetoric and hatred of Republicans. It seems everyone with something to say about the shooting had an agenda. I waited still.

We learned about James Hodgkinson’s history of domestic violence. In 2006 , he was arrested for domestic battery and discharge of a firearm. He punched his daughter’s friend, shot at another person present. He beat his daughter and threw her around a room. When she tried to flee in her car he choked her and tried to cut her out of her seatbelt. In what should be a story of it’s own, the charges were later dismissed.

a scalise1

Photo: wsj.com

It seems that 54% of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 involved domestic violence. After the shooting at the baseball park, there was a feeble attempt to once again raise the subject of sensible gun control. Like always it was a non-starter as the hold the NRA has on Congress is too strong. Even when they themselves start getting shot. But that isn’t what I wanted to write about.

We heard a lot about unity. How Republicans and Democrats need to come together, not letting partisanship come between us. How Americans should unite! The charity game the Republicans were practicing for was played the evening after the shooting. Over 25,000 people attended and money was raised for good causes. The Democrats won and handed the trophy to the Republicans, to be placed in the office of Steve Scalise upon his return. Predominantly old, white men hugged each other and proclaimed “unity” had been accomplished while their respective agenda’s went unchanged promising nothing of the sort.

Republican Senators went right back to trying to pass a Health Care Bill without debate, without hearings. 13 predominantly old white men are meeting in secret to come up with a plan that they will try to move through the Senate before anyone has a chance to understand it. When I said “predominantly old white men,” they were all white with no minority representation. They were all men. They just weren’t all old. So much for unity. I don’t want to write about that either.

What I did want to touch on was the narrative about the rising violence on the left. The alleged clear and present danger to conservatives who dare to stand up for American values. These would be the same conservatives who ignore the rise in right wing hate groups. Anti-Muslim hate groups. The reemergence of the Klan and White Nationalism. It’s presence in the White House (Bannon), the sons of the President who never met a Neo-Nazi or White Nationalist meme they didn’t like or in their case retweet. They justify the racist past and present of the President himself.

There is a prominent news network (Fox) that has done much to stoke the fears and hatred of  White Americans. They gave you the Tea Party and helped give us Trump. The truth was often obscured by a narrative that others are taking what is rightfully theirs. Not to give Fox sole credit, Breitbart, Infowars, even the National Review and The Wall Street Journal deserve their due. All of them helped to generate specifically White activism in behalf of White causes. They made heroes of extremist groups in standoffs against the government. They encouraged militias. They encouraged and motivated them by making them mad.   And now Republicans, I’m arriving the point I did want to get to. They’re mad at you!

In this instance it was a progressive fanatic who shouldn’t have been able to get a gun in the first place who was the shooter. He made sure it was Republicans he was shooting before opening fire. He carried a list with the names of several Republicans and their office information which some are calling a “hit list.” Congress has begun discussing how to fund additional security for it’s members. Almost all members including Democrats have at one time or another received threats. But back to the angry white people.

Republican Congressional Representatives and Senators have greatly reduced and in some cases halted altogether holding town halls. Their prime mechanism for communicating with the people. On the heels of their attempts to pass a Health Care Bill that will take Health Care away from 23 million Americans including many of their own supporters. They have literally became afraid of their own constituents. They have much more to fear than an inconsequential number of left wing extremists. Trump and by their silence Republicans in Congress, promised the return of coal mines that were never lost due to environmental regulations but by a technology that has made those jobs obsolete. They were promised “good manufacturing jobs, deportation of undocumented immigrants, Hillary would be “locked up” and they would be “great again.” They gave you Trump and those promises are now due.

Republicans made those people mad, they ensured they were armed and had the God-given right to own guns bigger than they could carry. You made promises you had no chance of keeping, the lone exception where you would give huge tax cuts to the rich while the rest of us suffered more. Steve Scalise’s last town hall was held by telephone where he only accepted screened calls from supporters.

a scalise2

Photo: romper.com

For all of the discord and rancor between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Unity isn’t really that hard to accomplish on many levels because most members have far more in common than what separates them. Your Congress consists mainly of rich white people or those dependent on the support of the same who get together and decide the fate of the rest of us. They are beholden to special interests and far more likely to favor corporate interests than those of their constituents. The unity that needs to be promoted is not among members of Congress but among the American people who would be better served by the type of Healthcare that focuses on service and not profits. The people would benefit by a reasonable immigration policy and a foreign policy that isn’t us against the world. The people would benefit from efforts to protect the ecology rather than elected officials ignoring it in favor of corporate greed and their own prospects for re-election.

I would say to Republicans and only to a slightly lesser degree Democrats in the Congress. Serve the people. The disapproval levels for the President has reached 64%, even more people disapprove of Congress. Start looking out for more than the rich because your biggest concern ought to be that your own are turning on you. Don’t believe it? Watch a town hall!

Photo: twitter.com