Strengthening our Second Amendment Rights and Public Safety

For the duration of this country’s creation on stolen land – gun legislation and reform has always been used to uphold systemic Supremacy.  For the duration of this country’s existence the firearm has been seen as a tool for charting one’s own course and self defense.  At the very same time, it is also that this lethal implement could very much be turned against people – and throughout history has been turned against marginalized peoples consistently.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

In 1791, the United States government ratified the Second Amendment.  It reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people.” However by 1792, Black, Brown and Indigenous Peoples were excluded from the militia and thus the right to own guns via the Uniform Militia Act of 1792, by “calling for the enrollment of every free, able-bodied white male citizen between the ages of eighteen and forty five.” Prior to the Civil War, virtually all “gun control” laws were enacted in states and colonies principally due to the fear of firearms in the hands of free Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples and slaves who might rebel against their masters.  After the Civil War ended in 1865, “gun control” expanded as a result of the enactment of the so-called “Black Codes” or “Jim Crow” laws intended to continue to oppress the newly-freed slaves.

The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867 noted with particular emphasis that under the Black Codes, Black people were “forbidden to own or bear firearms, and thus were rendered defenseless against assault.” and by 1868 the US Constitution ratified the 18th Amendment conveying citizenship to Black people.

The Klu Klux Klan began as a gun control organization focused on the disarmament of Black people, both the newly freed and the soldiers coming home with guns after fighting for the Union during the Civil War. Their goal, according to a plethora of their own propaganda and very public disarmament campaigns, was to achieve complete black disarmament.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

The highest court in the United States ruled that the federal government had no power to stop a terrorist organization from disarming citizens, specifically Black Americans en masse, and ultimately denying both their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In United States v. Cruikshank, three members of the KKK, Cruikshank had been charged with violating the rights of two black men to peaceably assemble and to bear arms after the 1873 Colfax Massacre, in which the KKK had murdered more than 100 Black men. These three men appealed on the grounds that their federal indictments of both the first, second and fourteenth Amendments were insufficient and inapplicable. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, and held that for protection against private criminal action, individuals are required to look to state governments. And with the protective arm of the federal government loudly withdrawn, “the protection of Black lives and property was left to largely hostile state government unwillingly to respond or actively engaged in the terror themselves.”

The Reconstruction era and Jim Crow laws became the foundation of gun control in America.  These laws spread North and West long before the twentieth century.  Cities across the State of California created their own gun control laws which were aimed primarily at Black People, “labor agitators” & Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, & Indian immigrants.   During this same time, the Wealthy and the Corporations they owned found reprieve in California State laws which explicitly applied gun control to “labor agitators” and routinely suppressed labor movements across the State.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

Throughout the late 1960s, the Oakland Black Panther Party used their understanding of the finer details of California’s gun laws as a means to highlight their political statements about the subjugation of African-Americans and protect their communities.

Members of the Oakland Black Panther Party began to follow police cars and dispense legal advice to Black Californians who were harassed and stopped by the police in and around Oakland – especially to Black people legally carrying their weapons and illegally stopped by the police.  The group referred to these activities as Police Patrols, and from community support and newspapers available at the time – the Police Patrols worked.  When Poor People, Black People, were informed about their rights and had allies nearby to protect and support them – abusive policing suddenly had a check in place.  California Assemblyman Don Mulford (Oakland-R) created a bill on April 5, 1967 to repeal the law allowing Californians to openly carry weapons, he acknowledged his gun reform was in direct response to the Black Panthers’ Police Patrols.  On May 2 1967, 30 members of the Black Panthers made their way to the second floor to the Assembly Chamber, with the intent on reading “Executive Mandate Number 1” in opposition to the Mulford Act.  Legislators announced shock as they didn’t expect resistance or opposition to this bill during the public congressional meeting.  Legislators called to immediately bar the entrance of Black Panther party members and denied entrance and their weapons were illegally confiscated.  With media presence, Capitol State Police returned their weapons and members of Black Panther party read Executive Mandate Number 1 aloud, and once more as they continued to protest on the steps of the California statehouse armed with .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols and announced, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”

California Governor Ronald Reagan, responding to the presence of a legal protest on the California Statehouse by Black men standing in public with guns, announced that California needed stronger gun control laws.  Republicans, Democrats and the NRA vehemently agreed.  State legislators used a rare California Constitutional clause, known as the “urgency statute” under Article IV, §8(d) to expedite committee reviews, readings, and passage of the Bill.  Within eight short weeks, AB1591, the state bill prohibiting the open carry of loaded firearms, along with an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms on State property was passed and signed by Governor Reagan.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

An openly racist 1967 bill took California down the path to having some of the strictest gun laws in America and helped jumpstart a surge of national gun control restrictions – which all also were unequally applied to and targeted Black, Brown, Indigenous and Poor People.  The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 adopted new laws prohibiting a select people from owning guns – specifically “felons, drug users, and individuals found mentally incompetent,” expanded licensing and inspections of gun dealers, banned mail order sales, and placed federal restrictions on pocket pistols, also known as Saturday Night Specials, which were very popular in urban and Poor communities across the country.

Avowed anti-gun journalist Robert Sherrill frankly admitted that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was “passed not to control guns but to control Blacks and inasmuch as a majority of Congress did not want to do the former but were ashamed to show that their goal was the latter, the result was they did neither.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

In the 1990s, gun control laws continued to be enacted with both racist and classist effects, if not intent.  Police-issued license and permit laws were routinely used to prevent lawful gun ownership among unpopular and marginalized populations. Public housing residents, approximately 3 million Americans, were repeatedly singled out for gun bans by President Clinton with his Administration’s introduction of H.R. 3838.  Gun sweeps by police in “high crime neighborhoods” whereby “vehicles and pedestrians who meet a specific profile that might indicate they are carrying a weapon” were unconstitutionally searched – a practice which became extremely popular, and was studied by the U.S. Department of Justice with the federal codename “Operation Ceasefire” have all had damning effects which further contribute to the overpolicing of marginalized and underserved communities to this day.

Gun control has always been racist and targeted the Poor.

The U.S. accounts for nearly 46% of all civilian-held firearms in the world, according to the Small Arms Survey, a research project from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.  And this is to be expected as the United States is the largest arms manufacturer and largest arms dealer  in the world for both civilians and sovereign states, accounting for over 57% of all arms in global existence.

I acknowledge that we have an extremely violent society – I also acknowledge this violence is extremely profitable for corporations and our government by design.  Furthermore, it is in fact, because of our current US sociopolitical climate, that semi-automatic small arms remain the most effective tools for self-defense in many situations – and especially for marginalized and underserved populations across our State and country.  However, a 46% stat will always rightfully be associated with a horrific and recent United States phenomena – mass shootings.

Mass shootings are absolutely preventable tragedies, but they have very little to do with the weapons used and much more to do with the mentality of those using them. #GunControlNow won’t end the despair that runs deeply through the veins of this late stage capitalist society.  An abolitionist & community based framework can however significantly assist us all with gun possession and improving public safety in our State.

A lack of healthcare, failing governments and society that doesn’t (and in some communities has never) provided critical support, employment or meaningful engagement is now coupled with extremely easy access to guns.  This is a recipe for disaster.  Survivors of gun violence & our communities across this State have very real grievances that must be heard and elevated.  These people, our communities, they are speaking from places of personal pain, trauma, over a century of government neglect, intergenerational trauma & systemic grief plagues many of our spaces – which are all too often ignored by gun advocates. We must make space for elevating their lived experiences and very valid concerns while addressing and reimagining public safety. We must.

Currently, all our federal, state & locality jurisdictions routinely fail to share critical information in current databases for gun licensing and clearance.  This is a serious issue.  Localities across our State have individually adopted gun show bans and closed loopholes for easy and illegal purchases.  I believe that we do need sensible gun reform that is constructed by and for the people of this great State.  It is in this construction and creation of new policies and legislation that I believe our individual communities know what is best for them.

I believe that the working class, that marginalized and underserved populations of this State must be able to protect themselves, their communities and do so safely.  Defining what that safety is, and all of tools necessary to achieve that safety are critical for safe and sustainable communities.  I believe it is counterproductive to give more carceral power to a racist, classist & authoritarian police state in its application of our gun ownership and determination of what can make and keep us safe – especially when that has never been their past objectives, intentions or outcomes.

We need to ensure that strengthening our Second Amendment Rights *AND* Public Safety are achieved through a holistic – a literal abolitionist – approach as armed weapons are equally as important as fully covered public health – be it medical, psychological, dental, hearing, vision, along with proactive health measures, effective and consistently used arms & public safety databases, a dismantled prison industrial complex, a defunded military industrial complex, quality decommodified housing, equitable employment opportunities, quality public education, critical infrastructure repairs, renewable energy and sustainable communities that have clean drinking water, safe food to eat.  I believe a government promoting our Constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights and public safety that works toward anything less is elevating inequity, violence and committing an egregious disservice to #OurCalifornia and the rest of the world. We deserve better.

I believe it to be my job as Governor to remove racist and classist legislation disguised as gun reform and allow #OurCalifornia to create the laws and spaces for public safety that they need. Again, when #OurCalifornia’s most marginalized are protected and succeed, we all win.

Viewing public safety holistically, and again highlighting that 5 decades of federal data prove that police and our carceral state only respond to and solve 2% of all major crimes – means that our communities and Survivors are already responding to and navigating 98% of major crimes on our own.  And with 98% of major crime occurring outside of carceral state, it’s past time for us to ask ourselves – who are criminals and what does true public safety look like?  98%.  Police do not keep us safe or reduce crime.  98%.  Prisons do not keep us safe or reduce crime.  98%.

As your gubernatorial candidate for 2022, I proudly support strengthening our Second Amendment rights and ALL that is public safety for all Californians.  I recognize that the State must invest in our communities – true and full investments for many of #OurCalifornia will be We must have policies and a government dedicated to an all-encompassing approach in order for us to achieve the resilient and sustainable communities that we deserve.   We are capable of moving towards peace, safety and justice – these are policies and the vision I believe will achieve it: