AP Photo/Steve Helber, File
For better or worse, the pro-gun position tends to be more of a right-wing position. When it comes to guns, gun rights, and gun control, you can predict someone’s position in a broad sense based on their party affiliation with a fair degree of accuracy. If you see Republican, you can assume he or she is relatively pro-gun and the opposite if they’re a Democrat.
However, over at Vox, an extreme-left activist is quite upset over the right and our supposed monopoly on guns and gun rights, and he’s bound and determined to change that.
The problem? He doesn’t understand quite how the politics works. What follows will be a partial fisk, where I address some of these points step by step.
This will be fairly long. I just wanted to warn you.
Right-wingers have held an unearned monopoly on gun culture for too long.
That’s the first damn sentence. You know this is going to be good.
First, though, he’s not wrong. We do hold a monopoly on gun culture, but it’s not because of anything we did. If I had my way, gun rights would be a bipartisan issue. However, the Left tends to want to restrict gun ownership while the right doesn’t. As a result, the gun culture has shifted to supporting people who don’t treat them like criminals.
Shocking, I know.
So no, we didn’t earn that monopoly, but you tend not to earn Christmas presents either. When someone gives you something, you take it, just the same.
Whether it’s in the halls of legislative power or in the comments under “gun bunny” photos on Instagram, there is a prevailing narrative that pegs guns and armed self-defense exclusively to Republicans, racist libertarians, and other generally Constitution-obsessed weirdos. It maintains that those on the left want to take away everyone’s guns and swathe the entire country in bubble wrap. But I’m an anarchist, and I call bullsh[**].
OK, great. Call it all you want.
However, science fiction author David Burkhead has created something of a hobby of collecting quotes from people who actually do want to take our guns away. With that in mind, let’s not pretend they don’t exist.
I’m of the firm opinion that it’s time to not only arm the left but challenge the narrative that all leftists are anti-gun. Many are, and that’s a position I can understand and respect. But there is also a long history of armed community self-defense among the radical left that is often glossed over or forgotten entirely in favor of the Fox News-friendly narrative that all liberals hate guns. That’s simply not the case — though as history has proven, the only thing that scares the reactionary right more than the idea of losing their guns is the thought of us having them.
Male bovine excrement.
I know I’ve covered the Liberal Gun Club before, for example, and I’ve been pretty upfront with my appreciation for them. Yes, we disagree on a great deal, but I’ll make common cause on guns with anyone who stands up for gun rights.
We know these people exist. The problem is, they’re such a distinct minority on the Left that they might as well not.
Don’t believe me? Show me the pro-gun Democratic candidate for president right now. Go on, show me.
There’s not a single candidate campaigning right now that has a staunch pro-gun stance. Yet if there were these legions of pro-gun Leftists being implied, certainly someone would try to pander to them if nothing else. Someone would stand on that hill and hope to differentiate between themselves and their colleagues.
The fact that there’s not doesn’t have anything to do with Republican perceptions of the gun-owning Left, but everything to do with what your side thinks.
Most of us love liberals who own guns. If more did, we wouldn’t have to have this fight and could focus on other issues.
I grew up with guns, and my familiarity with them is a big part of why l view things the way I do. My family hunts for sustenance, and gun safety was taught to me before I was tall enough to see over my dad’s workbench. I can understand why people who weren’t raised around them would view firearms with fear and loathing, but for me, a gun in the hands of someone I trust is a comforting sight, because I know the power it holds.
I couldn’t agree more.
When I was in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting the Unite the Right rally in 2017, the only time I truly felt safe was when members of Redneck Revolt — a working-class, anti-fascist, anti-racist armed community defense group — showed up open-carrying and secured the park where a number of us were gathered. The police may have stood by and done nothing as a neo-Nazi murdered one of us, but Redneck Revolt was there to offer protection — and the fascists steered clear of that park because of it.
While I’m sure I disagree with Redneck Revolt members on a thousand other things, I damn sure think the right to self-defense is a universal right. I may not necessarily trust left-leaning armed groups, but I’m sure that feeling is mutual and I don’t take offense at it. Yet so long as they follow the law, more power to them. I feel the same about any armed group.
The truth is, guns save lives. In Charlottesville, they may well have saved them. We don’t know for sure, and I count that as a good thing.
In Stone Mountain, Georgia, when a group of us marched through the streets to celebrate the cancellation of a Klan rally on February 2, we were accompanied by local activists with rifles and ARs slung over their shoulders; the police kept their distance, which was an extraordinary sight for someone used to New York City’s ultra-aggressive, hyper-militarized NYPD. As the black militant liberation group the Black Panthers showed back in the 1960s, as the Zapatistas showed in the ’90s, and as anarchists in New Orleans showed during the aftermath of Katrina, when cops and other fascists see that they’re not the only ones packing, the balance of power shifts, and they tend to reconsider their tactics.
Wait, so the cops are the bad guys, and you’re not inclined to also have them be the only ones armed?
Maybe you should be directing a lot more attention to your side and their hypocritic position on guns. I’ll freaking celebrate you for it, even if I think you’re a raving loon in every other capacity because while I disagree with your characterization of police officers as fascists, I do think the state having a monopoly on guns is dangerous.
To be honest, the thought of a world in which the state and their running dogs are the only entities with access to firearms sends a shudder down my spine.
You and me both.
Leftist gun ownership is about protecting marginalized communities
Not everyone should have access to guns — domestic abusers, for example, have proven by their actions that they cannot be trusted with that kind of responsibility — and not everyone needs it. No one without a significant amount of training should be handling a firearm at all, which is why I think designated community patrols made up of well-trained, highly trusted individuals who are chosen by and held accountable to said community (and who do not hold any or less power than anyone else due to their position) is a far better and more equitable defense model than messy “everyone gets a gun!” rhetoric.
Ah, so you’re not in favor of an armed citizenry?
So, do tell, who decides who gets to be part of these community patrols? These “well-trained, highly trusted individuals who are chosen by and held accountable to said community” can also be the very people who turn on the community. Police officers are well-trained and undergo extensive background checks before starting work. They’re also, in theory, held accountable by their community. Despite that, many people feel the police have turned against the community they’re charged with protecting, supposedly gunning down the innocent.
Why would a different group be immune to that?
I’m also not interested in creating a parallel cultural universe wherein balaclava-clad “gun bunnies” pose for the ’gram (I’d much rather shore up support for Rojava’s all-women YPG Women’s Defense Unit). I’m interested in reclaiming the notion of armed self-defense from those who have long used it as a cudgel to repress dissent and terrorize marginalized communities, and emphasizing its potential as a transformative tool toward collective liberation.
Someone’s swallowed the anti-gun Left’s rhetoric hook, line, and sinker.
I want someone to show me where people are using the Second Amendment to “dissent and terrorize marginalized communities” anywhere in this nation. Anywhere at all.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Look, this post is long enough, and I’ve already seen enough. The author here has swallowed the Left’s characterization of gun owners completely, then is turning around to blame us for that characterization.
Let me make it clear: I want everyone to be able to purchase a gun. I want the Right and the Left to become united on gun rights, at least to the degree that we all know no one wants to take them away. I’d much rather quibble over the small stuff than have to worry about my guns being deemed illegal.
However, the onus for this rests on the anti-gun Left. It’s up to them to stop coming after those guns. Otherwise, we’re going to keep seeing things this way.