The racist history of gun control policy

Feb. 23, 2018

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Dating back to colonial America, gun control laws in the U.S. have historically existed to the detriment of African-American communities.

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Colonial law

South Carolina Colony Law allowed killing slaves “of barbarous, wild savage natures” unsupervised around guns, per Race, Class and Gender in the United States.

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Black codes

After abolition, Southern “Black Codes” designed to uphold white supremacy often prohibited black people from owning guns, according to the Atlantic.

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Mulford Act

Black Panther activists, backed by open carry laws, led an armed protest against police brutality in 1967 at California’s state capitol.

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Mulford Act

In response to the demonstration, then-California governor Ronald Reagan passed the Mulford Act, which prohibited the open carry of loaded weapons.

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“Openly carrying weapons is a new dimension of gun ownership that is ... available to white Americans but implicitly denied to black Americans”

— Professor and historian Clayborne Carson to Al Jazeera

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Gun Control Act of 1968

President Richard Nixon enacted a national law that forbid cheap guns called “Saturday Night Specials,” indirectly targeting minority communities.

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In the 1960s, the NRA and the Republican party were involved in helping pass gun control legislature. Today they oppose such laws.

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In a 2008 win for gun rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no law should ever completely forbid citizens from owning guns.



Despite the historical impact of gun laws on the black community, America has seen a majority white population of perpetrators in mass shootings since 1982.

Source: Mother Jones

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