The Parkland school shooting sparked a national outcry for gun reform. But legislative change has been needed for some time now. Here are some relevant facts about the state of gun violence in America:
As a nation built on slavery, it should come as no surprise that racism is woven into our legislation. Since the founding of the United States, racism has been present in our country’s laws--and gun control is no exception. As we work to create positive, lasting change in gun reform, it’s important we remember the different impacts gun laws have had on people of color. Two pieces of legislation in particular, the Mulford Act and the Black Codes, highlight how intertwined gun control legislation was and is with racism. Louisiana Black Codes were a series of laws passed shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation, in which we saw some of the first racist gun control laws. Louisiana Black codes called to beat "any black carrying a potential weapon." The Mulford Act was a California policy banning open carrying of firearms, written in response to the Black Panther Party’s “copwatching” (a term for the Black Panther Party patrolling cops with guns to make sure cops weren’t abusing their power). One important connection that should be discussed in terms of the racist history of gun control is the second amendment. The second amendment was written to protect citizens from a tyrannical government. With the history of black people in America, guns have played a big part because the government has always been tyrannical for them. The second amendment has been a right that has protected them from the government. In the high profile case of Dred Scott of 1857, a Supreme Court Justice stated that if blacks became citizens they would have the right to keep and bear arm which would lead to "insubordination." Policies and cases like these cast a dark shadow over present day conversations of gun control. March for Our Lives has attempted to end our country’s chapter of racist gun control by including black voices like 11 year old Naomi Walder, but it is far from over.