The NRA supported gun restrictions once in California. Is it rooted in racism?

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Saturday, May 27, 2023
The NRA supported gun restrictions once. Is it rooted in racism?
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The Black Panther Party was known for openly carrying guns on the streets. A year after it formed, CA made it illegal to openly carry loaded guns

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With 10-day waiting periods, universal background checks, and open-carry restrictions, the state of California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Those restrictions are rooted in racism, according to Xavier Buck, executive director of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.

"When you see Black folk knowing the law, they said, 'OK, well let's change the law,'" said Buck.

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The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland in 1966, originally named the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in response to police brutality against Black citizens.

The radical organization was known for openly carrying guns on the streets to keep a close watch on police.

That's until California lawmakers made it illegal to openly carry loaded guns the year after the group was founded.

"They were shocked that Black people had the audacity to come up to the state Capitol and protest these gun restrictions," said Buck. "The Mulford Act was passed really directly in response to the Black Panther Party bearing arms and self-defense legally."

The bill limiting the right to openly carry loaded guns was supported by the National Rifle Association and signed into law by then Gov. Ronald Regan in 1967.

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"It says that the Second Amendment does not apply to Black people," said Buck. "It's the only time the NRA has ever wanted to respond with more gun restrictions. It had never happened and hasn't happened since."

Today, a growing number of Black people, specifically Black women, are becoming gun owners.

According to the National Sports Shooting Foundation Black women are one of the fastest growing groups picking up firearms for the first time, according to 2021 data.

"To understand the history is to understand why this club exists," said Nathan Jones, executive director of the Bay Area Black Gun Owners Association. "This whole thing is a rebuttal to all of those decades and history and centuries of gun restrictions against people of color specifically."

ABC7 News spoke to Jones one Sunday morning in April as the association held a beginners gun safety course specifically for Black women.

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"It's the most popular class that we offer," said Jones. "Seventy percent of our members are women. They are joining the club in droves."

Several of the women at the event shared with ABC7 News that they had never held a gun before, but wanted to learn the basics of gun safety.

"I want to take back ownership of our safety and our protection," said Samantha Jones, who brought her sister Ashley along with her.

Ashley added, "I'm a single woman and I live alone. I want to have that extra security at home."

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