USA: Who Gets to Bear Arms

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USA: Who Gets to Bear Arms

It is odd how the Black Panther Party (BPP) is not celebrated any more - and the Marvel movie by that name is just a piece of vapid escapism really. The BPP gave Black people pride and organization and education at a time when those things were hard to find. The FBI recognized the BPP as a big threat to the status quo and threw everything it had at them: constant surveillance, infiltrators, police harassment, perjury, killings, fake news, massive incarceration.

At its height, the BPP was a household name with big chapters in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay area, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Philadelphia, much feared by unrighteous police and racists generally, even out of proportion to the actual size of the organization. Really, the Black Panther Party with its breakfast programs and schools, was a beacon of hope for politically aware Black people.  It was an idea considered intolerable by the US criminal injustice system and the White elite.  Slowly, it was strangled and eliminated.

The 1969 assassination of 21-year-old Fred Hampton, the head of the Chicago chapter, in bed during a pre-dawn raid that killed another Panther and seriously wounded several others, made its way to court and a $1.85 million settlement for 9 survivors, but this was a rare exception. Panthers locked up in the 60s and 70s still languish in prisons in 2020.  Of course, if you are in the US and you Google "Black Panther Party" you are likely to be tracked even today.

Ironically, the only group in the United States of America with a real need to bear arms (as guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution) was legally barred of that right by legislation enacted by California governor (future President) Ronald Reagan in 1967.  The Mulford Act established strict gun laws that stripped legal ownership of firearms from Black Panther members and prevented all citizens, Black and White, from carrying firearms in public.  Outside of California, BPP members were stripped of their arms by extra-judicial (largely illegal) means.

Just imagine, with an armed and vocal Black population led by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence (its original name), there would not be open season on the general Black population in the US.  Today, it is White racists who bear their arms and flaunt their ideology.  For what?  To protect them from the 0.001% (all White) who automate their blue jobs and send their factories to Mexico or Vietnam?  Their real enemies are the super rich, not people of Colour.

Who gets to bear arms in the US and for what purpose is a subject ripe for public education and discussion.  It requires an urgent re-evaluation in "the land of the brave and the home of the free" before another innocent Black person is shot dead.  Peace.