Why Were the San Bernardino Shooting Victims Unarmed?

Fourteen unarmed people were shot to death and seventeen others wounded by two Islamic terrorists, Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik on December 2, 2015. The target of the attack was Farook’s coworkers at a Christmas party.

Nineteen days earlier, Islamic terrorists launched a series of attacks in Paris. 129 were murdered at the scene, 99 were in critical condition of which three have since died bringing the death toll to 132 with 42 in intensive care and 352 injured.

At the time of the Paris terrorist attack, my response was short and to the point. “France has no Second Amendment, with predictable results.”

But the United States, including California has a Second Amendment which, according to the United States Supreme Court, guarantees a right to keep firearms in one’s home and to openly carry (bear) firearms in non-sensitive public places for the purpose of self-defense. The Second Amendment says that right shall not be infringed.

And so why were the San Bernardino shooting victims unarmed?

National Rifle Association

The answer to that question is they were unarmed because of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

For proof, we have to turn the clock back to the winter and spring of 1967. It had always been legal to openly carry loaded firearms in California dating back to when California was an independent Republic.

Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

But in the winter and spring of 1967 a handful of self-described Black militants who were sick and tired of being treated as second class citizens by White police officers and White politicians started confronting the police and politicians while armed. These were members of the newly founded Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

By today’s standards of political protest, and even by the standards of the time, these “confrontations” were polite and peaceful. When one local politician asked the Black Panthers not to bring their firearms into a local government building, they complied. When confronting police officers during the Black Panther Police Patrols (a few members of the Black Panthers would monitor a police radio and drive to where an arrest was taking place and then shout out to the person that he has a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney) the Black Panthers kept at least 20 feet away from the police officer while he was making an arrest.

Needless to say, this annoyed the White politicians and White police officers no end. The members of the Black Panther Party weren’t breaking any law and so these White politicians and police asked a liberal Republican Assemblyman from Oakland to write a law banning them from carrying firearms.

White Liberal Assemblyman

This liberal Assemblyman, Don Mulford, critical of the then ascending conservative Republicans was your stereotypical White, liberal who is on record saying that Blacks are incapable of bettering themselves without government help. Prior to the Civil War the apologists for slavery made a similar argument for slavery except that it was the White slave owner who helped slaves “better” themselves.

hunting rifle
NRA got exemption for hunters.

Keep in mind that in 1967, California was far more Conservative and Republican than it is today. The National Rifle Association was feared by the legislators in California. No gun-control law was going to pass without the blessing of the NRA.

As it turned out, the NRA didn’t have any objection to banning Blacks, or White people for that matter, from openly carrying loaded firearms for the purpose of self-defense. It was already illegal to carry firearms concealed in California without a permit thanks to a law the California legislature passed in 1923. A law which was enacted explicitly to prevent California’s two minority groups (Latinos and Chinese) from even possessing handguns, let alone carrying them in public (openly or concealed).

What the NRA wanted, and got, was an exemption for hunters.

Peruta v. San Diego

Fast forward to April of 2010. The NRA takes over a lawsuit out of San Diego, Peruta v. San Diego, wherein the plaintiffs sought and were denied permits to carry loaded handguns, concealed. Keep in mind that by this time the US Supreme Court had already twice said that there is no right to carry a weapon concealed under the Second Amendment. The most recent time that SCOTUS said concealed carry is not a right was in 2008 when the US Supreme Court published its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. SCOTUS had said it once before in 1897 and would reaffirm its 2008 decision in 2010 when it held that the Second Amendment right defined in the Heller decision applies to all states and local governments.

Not only did the NRA argue in its Peruta concealed carry lawsuit to uphold the 1967 California ban on openly carrying loaded firearms, the NRA argued that California can ban all firearms from being openly carried for the purpose of self-defense. And for those who have drank deeply from the NRA Kool-Aid, the NRA also argued in the Peruta case that overturning California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 would be, in its words, “drastic.”

The NRA opposes Open Carry. The NRA supports gun-free school zones. You won’t read this in the mainstream press because reporters are too lazy and too stupid to read the NRA briefs filed in the Peruta case. Besides, it doesn’t fit their black and white narrative and reporting it would require their readers to think rather than being told what to think by the press.

NRA Argues Against Second Amendment

The icing on the icing is that the NRA lawyer currently representing Ed Peruta (Paul Clement) argued before the US Supreme Court against the Second Amendment.

I wish we could just blame the NRA but every single so called gun-rights group you have ever heard of, and many you have never heard of, all filed briefs in support of the NRA Peruta lawsuit and/or the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) concealed carry lawsuit which also argued that states can ban Open Carry.

My lawsuit which seeks to overturn California’s Open Carry bans could have been before the US Supreme Court by now but the NRA was successful in getting an assistant clerk of the 9^th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay my preliminary injunction appeal. Now that there is a judgment by the district court in my California Open Carry lawsuit, the appeal of my preliminary injunction is now moot and my appeal of the district court judgment is stayed pending a decision in the Peruta v. San Diego concealed carry lawsuit.

California’s laws which prohibit us from openly carrying loaded firearms in public for the purpose of self-defense are in violation of the Second Amendment and the courts should strike them down.

NRA And Racist Gun Laws

Ironically, the 1967 ban could have been struck down as early as 1970 because of the racist motivation behind the law according to a California Appellate Court decision which upheld the ban but which also said that the 1967 ban would have been struck down if it could be shown that the law is disproportionately enforced against minorities.

I proved both racial animus and disproportionate enforcement in my lawsuit. The leadership of the NRA on the other hand has no problem with racist gun laws. After all, it was the NRA which helped write both the racist California concealed carry laws and the racist California Loaded Open Carry ban and is defending those racist laws to this very day.

Charles Nichols is a proponent of open carry.  In 2011, he filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms in public for the purpose of lawful self-defense.  Oral argument in his case took place on February 15, 2018, before a three-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals. Charles follows court cases relating to The Second Amendment and tells us what they really mean instead of what reporters, who have never read the decisions in the cases, say they mean.

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