On May 2, 1967, approximately 40 legally armed Black Panther Party (BPP) members and supporters peacefully marched to the California State Capitol in Sacramento where co-founder Bobby Seale read a prepared statement opposing a gun violence reduction bill (Photo courtesy of the State Governors’ Negative Collection/The Philadelphia Tribune).
On May 24, a non-Black man with a gun murdered 19 mostly brown children and two adults in a Uvalde, Texas, school. On May 14, a white man with a gun murdered 10 mostly elderly Black persons in a Buffalo supermarket. On March 22, 2021, a non-Black man with a gun murdered 10 persons at a Boulder, Colo., supermarket. On June 17, 2015, a white man with a gun murdered nine Black persons in a Charleston, S.C., church.
And don’t forget about the white men (or other non-Black men) with guns who, since the year 2000 alone, murdered people in double digits, including as many as 60 at one time: 60 in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2017, 59 in Orlando, Fla., in 2016, 32 in Blacksburg, Va., in 2007, 27 in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, 26 in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017, 23 in El Paso, Texas, in 2019, 17 in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, 14 in San Bernadino, Calif., in 2015, 14 in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, 13 in Binghamton, N.Y., in 2009, 12 in Aurora, Colo., in 2012, 11 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 2018, 11 in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2018, 10 in Santa Fe, Texas, in 2018, and 10 in Geneva County, Ala., in 2009.
White men with guns are dangerous — murderously dangerous. And it ain’t nothing new. Just ask the so-called Indians what happened way back when the pilgrims arrived/invaded. As noted by then-Sen. Bob Smith, a Republican from New Hampshire, “The first gun in America probably came here in 1607 when the colonists first landed.”
And although Columbus didn’t really discover America, Jim Supica, director of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA’s) Firearms Museum said, as reported on NPR’s history website, “The 15th century sailors under the command of Christopher Columbus — whose voyages nibbled at the edges of what became the United States — carried guns.”
And don’t get me started with the Winchester rifle/Derringer slingin’ white cowboys of the Wild West, the Tommy Gun totin’ white gangsters of the Roaring ‘20s (and ‘30s), and the trigger-happy white cops of forever.
It is a fact that armed white men in the U.S. kill more people more often than any other demographic kills.
Just a few days ago on May 25, Statista, based in New York with 15 other offices in Europe and Asia staffed by more than 200 researchers and experts using over 22,500 sources covering in excess of 160 countries, pointed out that “Between 1982 and May 2022, 68 out of the 128 mass shootings in the United States were carried out by white shooters.”
By the way, the FBI defines a mass murder as the malicious killing of “four or more persons occurring during the same incident with no distinctive time period between the murders … (and) typically involving a single location.”
Despite the horrific mass murders committed with high-powered military assault weapons during the past two decades and earlier, Congress — correction, nearly all Republicans in Congress — refuses to pass sensible gun control measures.
But that could change overnight. Yes, Republicans would pass stringent gun control legislation (even more stringent than Japan’s, which is the most stringent and best on the planet) in a 24-hour emergency session.
However, they wouldn’t do it if young brown children are mowed down in a school or old Black grandmothers are slaughtered in a supermarket. There’s only one circumstance that would compel Republicans to enact sensible gun control laws: And that’s if a lotta Black folks start buying and carrying guns.
You want proof? Check out what Republicans in California did 55 years ago.
On May 2, 1967, approximately 40 legally armed Black Panther Party (BPP) members and supporters peacefully marched to the California State Capitol in Sacramento where co-founder Bobby Seale read a prepared statement opposing a gun control bill proposed by Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford, an otherwise pro-gun politician.
That bill was introduced April 5, 1967, after several legally armed BPP members — who two months earlier were serving as bodyguards for Betty Shabazz while escorting her through the San Francisco airport after Malcolm had been assassinated — were confronted by police for legally carrying weapons.
That bill, which was soon signed into law by Republican Gov. (and later President) Ronald Reagan, another otherwise pro-gun politician, criminalized for the first time in California history the carrying of loaded firearms in public.
Mulford introduced that bill only because BPP members had finally decided to assertively exercise what they described as their Second Amendment right in the form of lawful self-defense and lawful community defense, just as whites had always claimed to do. It must be pointed out that, for the first time in its entire existence since it was founded in 1871, the NRA supported a gun control bill.
It also must be pointed out that Republican state Sen. John Schmitz, who himself was a right-wing John Birch Society member, blasted the NRA for its hypocrisy by declaring, “Members of the National Rifle Association in California should know that their organization, despite its record of opposing gun control bills in the past, favored this bill and that without NRA support, it almost certainly would have been defeated.”
With or without NRA support, modern-day sensible gun control bills can become law. The solution to stopping these mass shootings is not rocket science. In fact, it’s quite simple. Just require thorough background checks (paying special attention primarily, but not exclusively, to psychological issues as well as propensity for violence) and those who are approved following those checks must be subject to strict licensing (similar to driver licensing along with periodic vision and physical fitness testing). And although it goes without saying, I’ll say it any way: Only small self-defense handguns would be permitted. All high-powered military assault weapons would be completely banned.
And the solution to passing sensible gun control laws in order to stop these mass shootings is also not rocket science. In fact, it’s quite simple: Black folks in major cities and small towns all across the country just need to legally do in 2022 what the BPP legally did in 1967 and legally buy then legally carry a bunch of guns like white folks in this land have been doing since 1607.
As soon as we do that today, a stringent gun control bill will be introduced in Congress tomorrow and will pass unanimously the day after.
An attorney and radio show host, opinion contributor Michael Coard, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this column first appeared. His work appears on Tuesday on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.
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