It’s a cycle that seems to recur every few years. Someone, somewhere in the United States commits a mass shooting. A few dozen people are killed, sometimes, including the shooter. In the wake of the violence, every news station across the country runs the story 24/7. The community mourns their deceased, and condemns the “senseless violence”. And every time, liberals will protest and lobby for stricter gun control measures, some even going so far as to call for a repeal of the Second Amendment. Upon seeing these protests, the State will respond by condemning the shooting, saying that they hear the protesters, while making a vague promise for change. And then… nothing. Every revolutionary is familiar with this type of state response. We have repeatedly seen it in response to protests over police brutality. It’s their way of saying, “We don’t actually plan to do anything to solve this issue, but we will pretend to support your cause for now, until you all eventually go home and forget about this whole thing.” Or, more often, until the people rise up in rage, then we see how much the enemy truly cares about our struggles. So why is it that the State refuses to enact any gun control measures? Many conservatives will say that it’s because gun control goes against the Second Amendment, and the State is committed to ensuring the right of every citizen to own a firearm.
But this is an incorrect view. The actual answer is more complex. The Second Amendment does not exist to make it easy for the masses to struggle via armed force. When it was written by the so-called “founding fathers”, it was not intended to allow “the people” to overthrow the United States government, should it ever become “tyrannical”, like they considered the feudal government of Britain to be. Perhaps the “founding fathers” truly did not comprehend that their Amerikan revolution was in fact a bourgeois revolution, which simply replaced an aristocratic ruling class across the Atlantic Ocean with a slaveowning/merchant bourgeoisie here. Perhaps they truly believed their own rhetoric about “liberty and justice for all” (in reality, all propertied white men), and wanted to ensure that the people would always be able to overthrow a “tyrannical” government, as they believed they had just done. This is a fool’s thinking. No government is going to willfully write in the right to rebel against it in its founding documents. The Second Amendment was designed by the white supremacist ruling class to oppress and murder the poor, the enslaved, and the indigenous. Arming every settler was essential to ensure that real revolution, the revolution of the real proletariat, the real masses, meaning the enslaved and indigenous, was strangled in the crib.
Why, then, does the modern bourgeois state still tolerate the Second Amendment? Simply because they have found a way to make it work for them. Take a moment to picture in your head the average Amerikan gun owner. What type of characteristics does this person have? Likely, you’re thinking of someone who is white, Republican, aggressively patriotic, and a fundamentalist Christian. This person never leaves the house without an Amerikan flag on at least one article of clothing. They watch Fox News exclusively, and they have a framed picture of Donald Trump right next to a portrait of (white) Jesus. In “Guns Don’t Kill People, Settlers Do”, Oliver Baker writes:
When I arrived, there were 15-20 men armed to the teeth, strutting around with ARs slung tightly around their chests and handguns of various calibers holstered on their belts. Their wives were inside preparing food and tending the kids. As the men—some dressed in army surplus gear, others still wearing their work clothes—blasted away at various targets, the property owner began talking to me about why he loved his home(stead) so much. It was, in his words, “out in the sticks, good and far away from all of that inner-city mayhem.” After showing me a sample of his extensive gun collection, spread out before everyone on the tailgate of his truck, he continued his white-to-white conservation with me:“Yeah, I have all this firepower because I gotta protect my property and family when, you know, shit hits the fan, and all them inner-city people dependent on government hand-outs are left high and dry and start coming out here where the pavement meets gravel looking to loot food and other things.”
Ask yourself, if the workers and oppressed masses of this country were ever to wage a revolution against the United States government, which side do you think this type of person would fight for? Now we are coming to our answer. The State does not care to enact gun control measures, because it has ensured that the vast majority of gun owners in the country are fiercely loyal to it. They were able to do this because reactionary settlers fostered a culture of gun ownership and patriotism — these people, in effect, serve as an unofficial militia, one unbound by the rules of engagement that apply to the police and the military.
Gun control, really broad gun control, would mean that the bourgeoisie would have to give up their brownshirts. That is why they oppose it. The reaction of the State to the class character of gun owners is especially telling when we consider two historical examples. In the late 1960s, the Black Panther Party was organizing copwatches, wherein they would patrol the streets while openly carrying guns, to stop the police from abusing people of color. Because it was revolutionary black people who were picking up guns, the bourgeoisie reacted. The California state legislature was quick to pass the Mulford Act, which prohibited public carrying of loaded firearms. (The Panthers showed up armed to the state capitol to protest the act.) Even the NRA supported gun control in this instance, because it would mean disarming the Panthers. Reactionary Governor Ronald Reagan, who most think was staunchly pro-gun, was also vehemently anti-Black. He supported the Mulford Act.
Compare that to the recent spectacle of armed white people who actually invaded the Idaho and Michigan state capitols in order to protest the states’ measures combating the spread of COVID-19. Why didn’t the state try to pass any gun control measures this time? Because these groups of reactionary settlers are the state’s militia. They may misbehave from time to time, but the state won’t take their guns away, because they are the state’s insurance plan for when things go south. Of course, as Communists, we know that gun control is counter-revolutionary. When it is applied, it is used to incarcerate and murder Black and Brown people. The line of all FTP organizations, the MCP-OC, and all revolutionary Communists is: “Revolutionary Black, Brown and Queer Workers, Get Armed and Get Organized”. Our enemies are preparing to use the chaos of this election season to spill more of our blood, and we must meet the challenge through superior organization and revolutionary discipline.