Reagan got a number of things right. But he got a bunch wrong too. (Who doesn’t?) The gun laws Reagan signed into law while California governor were aimed at disarming a group which were merely executing their rights under the Constitution. The Reagan gun laws empowered a police establishment with a new tool to put people behind bars.
Black? Get caught with a gun in late 60s/early 70s California? Most likely you were going to jail.
Reagan was wrong here.
This episode in American history has always bothered me. It’s right on up there with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II by FDR in my book. Anthony Gregory at The Independent Institute revisits it.
The essay is challenging so be warned.
(From The Independent Institute)
Conservatives, at their most radical, have made this connection: Condoleezza Rice and Ann Coulterhave also argued that blacks should arm themselves if they want to protect themselves against racial violence. But not only rightwingers hone in on this: Ice-T argues that the right to keep and bear arms is to resist tyranny and “to protect yourself from the police.”
When Reagan and Nixon and the other Republicans in the 1960s advanced gun control, they were at least in part pandering to law-and-order conservatives who wanted police to have yet more power to protect them from minorities and the poor. If racism was not in the intent, it was definitely part of the effect.