Saturday, January 14, 2012

Racism & Weapons Control

I am reading through the first attempt to ban concealed carry in California, in the 1850s.  Even with the prevailing racist sentiment, reporters managed to express their disapproval of the most grossly appalling expressions:
Mr. Ashley, as I write is replying to a remark which was made by the poetical gentleman from Nevada, (Mr. Barton) who expressed himself in favor of disarming "Greasers."
The term "greaser" is commonly used throughout this period to describe Mexicans, and the reporter's reference to State Senator Barton as "poetical" while putting "Greasers" in quotes makes it pretty clear the contempt that he feels for Barton.


  1. I recently read The Chinese Parrot, a Charlie Chan mystery by Earl Derr Biggers, published in 1926.

    Chan uncovers a criminal plot at a ranch in the California desert, having gone there "undercover" as a cook. He is holding the chief malefactors at gunpoint when the local sheriff arrives.

    The sheriff's first reaction is to arrest Chan for being a Chinaman in possession of a gun. He dismisses Chan's self-identification as a Honolulu police sergeant. The arrival of two victims who have escaped captivity by the crooks finally resovles the tangle.

    IIRC, the sheriff says that a Chinaman with a gun is automatic prison time. I don't know whether Biggers cited the law of time correctly, but I would not be surprosed of that's what it was.

  2. Yes, he is. The 1923 California bill that prohibits concealed carry without a permit also makes it a crime for a non-citizen to possess a concealable firearm. Since Asian immigrants by law could not become citizens, the sheriff is correct. One of the selling points for the 1923 bill, by the way, was that it would disarm non-citizens, having a “salutary effect in checking tong wars among the Chinese and vendettas among our people who are of latin descent.”