66 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1365 (1992-1993)
Race, Riots, and Guns

handle is hein.journals/scal66 and id is 1381 raw text is: RACE, RIOTS, AND GUNS
CARL T. BoGus*
On May 14, 1992, the New York Times ran a disturbing lead article.
In the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots, it reported, Californians
are buying firearms at the highest rate since the state began keeping
records 20 years ago, and other states are reporting similar surges in gun
sales.1 The article continued:
In large part, the rush to buy guns in California can be attributed to
one of the more frightening messages to come out of the two days of
arson, looting and violence in South-Central Los Angeles. That
message, that fear, is that the police might not be able to defend people
during an outbreak of civil unrest.2
The National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) wasted no time capitaliz-
ing on this sentiment. It ran national advertisements that painted a pic-
ture of law-abiding citizens, made vulnerable by gun control laws,
cowering helplessly before armed mobs.3 The mainstream media
* Copyright © 1993 by Carl T. Bogus. All rights reserved.
Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Law (Camden). A.B. 1970, J.D. 1972, Syra-
cuse University.
1. Timothy Egan, After the Riot Los Angeles Riots Spurring Big Rise in Sales of Guns, N.Y.
TiMEs, May 14, 1992, at Al.
2. Id
3. As violent mobs advanced, read the copy of the ad, amidst photographs of fires, looting,
a surging black crowd, and people lying on the street with their hands tied behind their backs:
police were ordered to retreat. Terrified and abandoned, L.A. citizens raced to gun stores
to buy firearms to protect themselves. But their government had abandoned them years
ago. Those who didn't own a firearm were denied by California's 15-day waiting period.
... The criminals were denied nothing, waited for nothing, filled out forms for noth-
ing. They killed who they wanted, stole what they wanted, vandalized what wasn't stolen,
and burned to the ground what was left.
... Must your flesh and blood be maimed? ... Must your once-proud nation surren-
der to more gun control experimentation while its citizens tremble behind deadbolts and
barred windows?
AM. RIFLEMAN, Sept. 1992 (unpaginated insert); see also infra note 6.
In a similar vein was a column by the N.R.A.'s executive vice president who recounted his
version of what he saw on television during the riots: I saw men on rooftops with privately owned
firearms, defending their homes and businesses and families. And I watched the mob pass them by
in search of easier prey. Wayne LaPierre, Standing Guard, AM. RIFLEMAN, June 1992, at 7.


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