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Thread: Sad anniversery for CA self-defense rights

  1. #1
    Newbie cato's Avatar
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    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/po...&cset=true

    A seminal event remembered
    May 3 2007


    Sacramento — Half a dozen black men wearing leather jackets and carrying loaded guns burst through the massive doors of the California Assembly chamber. Twenty brothers in arms waited outside in the hall.

    The Assembly was in session, approaching lunchtime. Some lawmakers dived under their desks. Others darted for a side door. Most simply froze and stared in disbelief.

    That was 40 years ago Wednesday.

    The terrifying incident put the invaders — the fledging Oakland-based Black Panther Party for Self Defense — on the international map. Black Panthers became a household name.

    For the Capitol, it was a seminal event. It ended an era of innocence, a time when politicians regarded the domed, granite monolith as a sanctuary from the dangers of everyday violence. It ushered in the gradual tightening of security, culminating in the fortress-like building it is today, guarded by magnetometers, security cameras and vehicle-stopping steel posts ringing the park.

    The Capitol never again would be quite so cozy.

    While startling, the episode did reflect the boiling turmoil of the '60s, the political perfect storm of civil rights activism and Vietnam War protests that often erupted in violence.

    But the Panthers cooked up this event as a publicity stunt.

    Ostensibly, they were at the Capitol to protest — get this! — a Republican-sponsored gun control bill. The Assembly GOP caucus chairman, Don Mulford of Piedmont, was pushing legislation to ban the carrying of loaded firearms within any city.

    "We have a constitutional right to bear arms," the Panthers shouted as they roamed the Capitol. Panther co-founder Bobby Seale read a statement to reporters claiming that the bill was "aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless."

    "Today, the Republicans would be defending the Panthers' right to have guns," says Democrat Willie Brown, who 40 years ago was an assemblyman and later became Assembly speaker and then San Francisco's mayor.

    "I was shocked — totally shocked," Brown recalls of the invasion. "Anyone walking in with weapons, you kidding me!"

    May 2, 1967, was a nice sunny day in Sacramento. Gov. Ronald Reagan was about to join an eighth-grade social studies class on the Capitol's west lawn for a fried chicken lunch. Suddenly a group of guys with guns — rifles, shotguns, side arms — came marching through.

    From the Associated Press bureau on the Capitol's second floor, chief correspondent Bill Stall was glancing out the window. The future Times staffer remembers the bizarre scene: "They looked like an infantry company coming through the trees."

    The Panthers climbed a stairwell to the second-floor Assembly chamber, knocking over a sergeant-at-arms at a swinging gate. Then they barreled through the big oak door.

    Back then, reporters were allowed to have small desks alongside the Assembly floor, and I was at mine, near the front of the chamber. I still can hear the panic in the shouting of the presiding officer, Assemblyman Carlos Bee (D-Hayward): "Sergeant, remove those people immediately."

    Nobody was going near those people.

    "The membership became very frightened and started scrambling, going for cover," remembers Brown, who was standing near the back. "I couldn't figure out why. Then I turned around and saw these fellows in their Panther uniforms and berets. I immediately said, 'What are you guys doing here? You're going to get in a lot of trouble. You can't be bringing guns into the chamber.' "

    It's remembered a little differently by Tony Beard Jr., who's now the Senate's chief sergeant-at-arms, and then was also standing at the rear of the chamber. His dad, Tony Beard Sr., was the Assembly's chief sergeant.

    Brown, one of five black Assembly members, produced "the funniest moment I remember," Beard says. "He was standing to the Panthers' right, looking at some papers. He looked over at them, they look over at him. He kind of shrugged and said, 'I'm with you guys.' Then looked back at his papers.

    "That's when I learned how smart Willie was."

    Brown disputes it. "First of all, I wasn't a Panther," he says. "I did represent some Panthers on a robbery charge once." Attorney Brown got them off.

    Another future legislative leader in the chamber that day was Assemblyman David Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who later would head the Senate.

    "I was a freshman. It was a great initiation," he says. "Frankly, I wasn't scared because I was too naïve to realize what was happening."

    I'll admit to being a tad scared. I walked toward the commotion, always keeping a desk or a rail or a column between me and the bad guys, as I perceived them. I'd grown up with guns and was, at that time, an avid hunter. One slip of the finger. Maybe some misguided sergeant would try to be hero and start a firefight.

    Fortunately, there was one real hero: Tony Beard Sr., a former USC football star and Hollywood stuntman (for Clark Gable in "Gone With the Wind," for example). His dad had headed the state police.

    "What I remember was that Tony Beard rushed back there and grabbed their guns and started throwing them out of the chamber," says former Assemblyman Bill Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights). "It was amazing."

    Tony Jr. recalls it this way: "Dad came back and said, 'What do you guys want?' He said it cordially and professionally, not cop-like.

    "They said, 'We want to see our Assembly representatives.'

    " 'Well, you can't do it this way.' 'How do you do it?' 'You need to go out and stand behind the gate. Then we can bring a member back.'

    "So they went back behind the gate. It taught me a lot about demeanor and presence.

    "Of course, nobody wanted to come out of the chamber to talk to them."

    Some state cops arrived and unloaded the Panthers' weapons. But no law had been broken. Soon afterward, the Legislature made it illegal to carry a firearm in the Capitol.

    On their way out of town, a few Panthers were arrested by city cops for breaking a fish and game law: having a loaded gun in a car. Seale served jail time.

    The Mulford bill passed, basically making it illegal to carry a loaded gun in public.

    On that day 40 years ago, no shots were fired. Nobody was hurt. The Panthers looked scary, but really weren't. Today, some people don't look scary, but really are.

    *


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    George Skelton writes Monday and Thursday. Reach him at george.skelton@latimes.com.

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    I wonder how things would have gone later if the Assembly hadrefused to passthe gun-control bill.

    Thanks for passing along the story, Cato.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

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  3. #3
    State Pioneer ConditionThree's Avatar
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    Yes, this is a bitter, bitter read from a Constitutional perspective.

    The Mulford Act, though tabled and passed by our State government, is nothing less than knee jerk legislation intended to prohibit carry of loaded weaponsby anyone but law enforcement in public.

    Worse, is that it is unConstitutional.
    12031. (a)(1) A person is guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when he or she carries a loaded firearm on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or in any public place or on any public street in a prohibited area of unincorporated territory.
    A firearm is as effective as a rock or a stick if unloaded. This restriction also creates seperate classes of people that are treated differently under law. Those who occupy 'incorporated' areas are not afforded the same rights as those living in unincorporated areas. One cannot carry a loaded weapon in public, the other can.

    This is in defiance of the 14th amendment, in part quoted here;
    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    Further, this law violates our 4th amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure with this subdivision;
    (e) In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded for the purpose of enforcing this section, peace officers are authorized to examine any firearm carried by anyone on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unincorporated territory. Refusal to allow a peace officer to inspect a firearm pursuant to this section constitutes probable cause for arrest for violation of this section.
    This gives law enforcement broad latitude to stop me if they see me armed, to search me without a warrant issued by a judge, to disarm me as they make their search, and presumes guilt without the benefit of a jury of my peers.

    Were there any real judges out there, this would have been thrown out long ago- the Constitution is constructed to prevent this sort of law from being entertained as legislation-

    From Article VI;
    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    This law was notmade in pursuance of the Constitution and is contrary to the 2nd, 4th, 9th, and 14th amendments- Judges are not bound to rule by such laws, and yet- pass sentence on violations of this 'anti-law'.

    Anyone want to storm the Capitol?
    New to OPEN CARRY in California? Click and read this first...

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    CL SUBJ IN COMPLIANCE WITH LAW


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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    I remember this. I had forgotten all about it until you posted this. This is the incident that really put the panthers on the map. It also drew the ire of J. Edgar Hoover, and they were on the watch list BIG time after that.


    Great post, thanks CATO

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    If DC can loose it's 32 year old hand gun ban then it's time for CA to loose it's 42 year old loaded ban!

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    LeagueOf1607 wrote:
    If DC can loose it's 32 year old hand gun ban then it's time for CA to loose it's 42 year old loaded ban!
    +1!
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    cato wrote:
    Ostensibly, they were at the Capitol to protest — get this! — a Republican-sponsored gun control bill. The Assembly GOP caucus chairman, Don Mulford of Piedmont, was pushing legislation to ban the carrying of loaded firearms within any city.
    I think it's important to remember the bill to ban loaded carry was already there before the Black Panthers' infamous stunt. It is often said that this legislation was a reaction to their actions, which was not the case.
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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    While this is true, I have read several sources who claim (without much substantiation) that the reaction to the Black Panthers caused more support for the bill, and possibly for it have been bolstered before being passed.

    For example, in another thread I posted a link to http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...g=artBody;col1, wherein the author claims:
    On the negative side, the BPP's display at Sacramento resulted in the passage of even tougher gun control legislation than had first been proposed. In July 1967, the California legislature ratified the Mulford Act making it illegal to carry loaded firearms on one's person or in a public place.

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