The Mulford Act was a 1967 California bill that prohibited public carrying of loaded firearms without a permit.[2] Named after Republican assemblyman Don Mulford, and signed into law by governor of California Ronald Reagan, the bill was crafted with the goal of disarming members of the Black Panther Party who were conducting armed patrols of Oakland neighborhoods, in what would later be termed copwatching.[3][4] They garnered national attention after Black Panthers members, bearing arms, marched upon the California State Capitol to protest the bill.[5][6][self-published source?][7]


The Mulford Act was a 1967 California bill that prohibited public carrying of loaded firearms without a permit.[2] Named after Republican assemblyman Don Mulford, and signed into law by governor of California Ronald Reagan, the bill was crafted with the goal of disarming members of the Black Panther Party who were conducting armed patrols of Oakland neighborhoods, in what would later be termed copwatching.[3][4] They garnered national attention after Black Panthers members, bearing arms, marched upon the California State Capitol to protest the bill.[5][6][self-published source?][7]

Mulford Act
  • An act to add Sections 171c, 171d, 171e, and 12031 to the Penal Code, relating to firearms and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.[1]
Passed byCalifornia State Assembly
PassedJune 8, 1967
Passed byCalifornia State Senate
PassedJuly 27, 1967
Signed byRonald Reagan
SignedJuly 28, 1967
EffectiveJuly 28, 1967
Legislative history
First chamber: California State Assembly
Bill titleFirearms law
Introduced byDon Mulford, John T. Knox, Walter J. Karabian, Frank Murphy Jr., Alan Sieroty, William M. Ketchum
IntroducedApril 5, 1967
First readingApril 5, 1967
Second readingJune 6, 1967 to June 7, 1967
Third readingJune 8, 1967
Second chamber: California State Senate
Bill titleFirearms law
First readingJune 8, 1967
Second readingJune 27, 1967
Third readingJuly 26, 1967

Assembly Bill 1591 was introduced by Don Mulford (R) from Oakland on April 5, 1967, and subsequently co-sponsored by John T. Knox (D) from Richmond, Walter J. Karabian (D) from Monterey Park, Frank Murphy Jr. (R) from Santa Cruz, Alan Sieroty (D) from Los Angeles, and William M. Ketchum (R) from Bakersfield.[1] A.B 1591 was made an "urgency statute" under Article IV, §8(d) of the Constitution of California after "an organized band of men armed with loaded firearms [...] entered the Capitol" on May 2, 1967;[8] as such, it required a two-thirds majority in each house. On June 8, before the third reading in the Assembly (controlled by Democrats, 42:38), the urgency clause was adopted, and the bill was then read and passed.[1] It passed the Senate (split, 20:20) on July 26, 29 votes to 7, and was signed by Governor Ronald Reagan on July 28, 1967.

Both Republicans and Democrats in California supported increased gun control, as did the National Rifle Association of America.[9][10] Governor Ronald Reagan, who was coincidentally present on the capitol lawn when the protesters arrived, later commented that he saw "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons" and that guns were a "ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will." In a later press conference, Reagan added that the Mulford Act "would work no hardship on the honest citizen."[3]

The bill was signed by Reagan and became California penal code nr.25850[11] and nr.171c.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "California State Assembly and Senate Final History – 1967 Session" (PDF). California State Assembly - Office of the Chief Clerk. p. 506. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "The Black Panthers, NRA, Ronald Reagan, Armed Extremists, and the Second Amendment". Archived from the original on 2023-01-27. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Winkler, Adam (September 2011). "The Secret History of Guns". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Don Mulford, a conservative Republican state assemblyman from Alameda County, which includes Oakland, was determined to end the Panthers' police patrols. To disarm the Panthers, he proposed a law that would prohibit the carrying of a loaded weapon in any California city.
  4. ^ Simonson, Jocelyn (August 2015). "Copwatching". California Law Review. 104 (2): 408. doi:10.15779/Z38SK27. SSRN 2571470. Organized copwatching groups emerged as early as the 1960s in urban areas in the United States when the Black Panthers famously patrolled city streets with firearms and cameras, and other civil rights organizations conducted unarmed patrols in groups
  5. ^ "From 'A Huey P. Newton Story'". PBS. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "How to Stage a Revolution Introduction". Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  7. ^ Seale, Bobby (1991). Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. Black Classic Press. pp. 153–166. ISBN 978-0933121300.
  8. ^ "Armed Black Panthers invade state Capitol in 1967". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on 2017-05-07.
  9. ^ Arica L. Coleman (July 31, 2016). "When the NRA Supported Gun Control". TIME. Archived from the original on July 29, 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2017. The NRA also supported California's Mulford Act of 1967, which had banned carrying loaded weapons in public in response to the Black Panther Party's impromptu march on the State Capitol to protest gun control legislation on May 2, 1967.
  10. ^ Cynthia Deitle Leonardatos (1999). "California's Attempts to Disarm the Black Panthers". San Diego Law Review. 36 (4).
  11. ^ Penal code 25850
  12. ^ Penal code 171c

Further reading

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