The Second Amendment, the NRA, Police in Schools—Gun Violence and White Supremacy

April 2, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


The horrible mass murder in Parkland, Florida and the outpourings of protest against gun violence have sparked widespread debate. People are struggling to understand why this violence keeps happening

What are the roots of the gun violence that takes so many lives in this country? Is the problem the guns? Why does the National Rifle Association seem to have such power and influence? Would putting even more police into schools protect students or endanger them?

These important issues need serious responses—but most answers out there don’t get to the reality of the situation in the U.S. today, or the history that has led to this juncture. Revolution has addressed these issues in previous articles (here, and here) , and we encourage people to dig further into the works by Bob Avakian linked from this article.

Here we focus on three major points of contention: the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the National Rifle Association, and the role of police in schools.

The 2nd Amendment—Enforcing a White Man’s Constitutional Right to Genocide and Slavery

The authors of the U.S. Constitution did not put the Second Amendment into the Bill of Rights to ensure people’s right to resist a federal tyranny, as today’s fascists often say. It wasn’t even about the right of individuals to own guns.

It was all about arming white men to control and suppress slaves—African people and people of African descent, and to drive Native Americans off their land, including by killing them.

For one thing, “the people” in the original U.S. constitution excluded slaves and Native Americans. White women were barely considered. Everyone at the time who read this Constitution—and certainly those who wrote it—knew that it was only talking about allowing white men to be armed.

Historian Carl T. Bogus wrote that James Madison wrote the Second Amendment to assure Southerners that the federal government couldn’t use its powers to stop slave patrols. There were hundreds of documented revolts and “conspiracies” by slaves before U.S. independence, and, as Bogus wrote, “Southerners were terrified of slave revolts and very much obsessed about possible insurrections during the late eighteenth century. They invested enormous energy in maintaining a slave patrol system, in which white patrollers worked throughout the night to stop blacks from moving about without permission, to search black homes for weapons and other contraband, and to administer lashings to blacks who committed infractions.”

The militias enshrined in the Second Amendment had existed for decades, and as another author pointed out, when the colonies agreed to become states these militias “were expected to continue fulfilling two primary roles in the United States: destroying Native communities in the armed march to possess the continent, and brutally subjugating the enslaved African population.”

These bloody origins of the Second Amendment continued to shape how gun rights developed in this country through the years; armed posses of slave catchers; scalp hunting parties of whites killing and dispossessing Indians; lynch mobs terrifying Black communities during the years of Jim Crow; heavily armed vigilantes prowling the U.S./Mexico border today. All this treated as legitimate, constitutionally protected activity.

Even while the historical roots of the Second Amendment are in white supremacy, and that is the basis on which today’s fascists uphold and fight for it, the problem facing the people today is much larger than guns and gun violence per se. Reactionary violence is as American as apple pie—it is woven into the fabric of this system, its culture and all its social relations.

Because of this, gun control and repealing the Second Amendment is not the solution. Besides, the state—the institutions of government that rule over this society, especially its police, military, and legal apparatus—can’t be allowed to control and regulate the ability of the people to defend themselves against reactionary and illegitimate violence. First of all, no power on Earth commits greater and more widespread violence than the government of the U.S. Any and all powers given to this state to take away people’s right to self-defense will be used against the people and against political movements of resistance. This has happened repeatedly in the history of this country.

As we wrote previously, “Don’t be foolish. New gun control measures would only heighten repression. Guns—especially high-powered automatic weapons—would NOT be taken from the state and its brutal military and police. Proposed background checks allow sections of the people—like the NRA and the white-supremacist fascists who marched in Charlottesville—who say they are preparing for ‘race war’—to still buy guns, while barring others”.

The NRA—From Gun Safety Association to Mass Fascist Organization

The problem with the NRA is not that it has influence out of proportion to its numbers, or that many politicians are afraid to cross it. The problem is that it is a key part of the constellation of forces moving aggressively to consolidate fascism in this country, including acting as a propaganda arm of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

Bob Avakian has analyzed how the Republican Party has been becoming more and more openly fascist since the time of Richard Nixon. The NRA has been increasingly tied to the Republicans through these years—these Republi-fascists want to keep weapons in the hands of the white supremacist social base they are mobilizing. Last summer, as protests around the country were mounted against different measures of the Trump/Pence regime the NRA released two ads that, in the words of one journalist, were “barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war.”

The growth and transformation of the NRA began in the 1960s, as righteous uprisings of Black people erupted in cities and towns across the entire U.S. People rose up against police brutality and harassment, rigidly enforced segregation, and degrading treatment in every sphere of life. The rebellions reverberated across the world. U.S. News and World Report wrote that the 1967 rebellion in Detroit was “the nearest thing to civil war that the U.S. had witnessed in more than 100 years. Officials and frightened citizens saw it as an ominous warning of what could happen in many big American cities. … To many Americans, it all looked like a developing plot to bring about a nationwide ‘black revolution’.”

Gun sales surged, especially in segregated suburbs where the population was swelling with white people fleeing large cities. This pattern has continued in the decades since, after people have risen up in rebellion and protest in cities like Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Ferguson, Missouri. During the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992, a gun store owner said, "I always thought if there was a serial rapist or murderer loose my business would go up, but nothing beats a race riot.”

Many of the newly armed whites joined the NRA, and the focus of the NRA began to change drastically as it became increasingly and openly white supremacist. Opposition to any limitations on white men owning guns became its defining feature. It expanded as a mass organization of heavily armed white people in suburbs and rural areas.

The Trump/Pence regime and the NRA have, so far, adamantly opposed any gun control. This is because they are fascists, not because they are beholden to the “gun lobby.” They want to keep weapons directly in the hands of their white supremacist, xenophobic social base. As fascist-in-Chief Donald Trump said when he addressed the NRA at its 2017 convention, “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

Police in Schools and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

There has been an epidemic of police violence in this country over the past several decades. Generations of young Black and Brown people have been incarcerated. Children as young as 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014 have been murdered by police. Hand in glove with this, police—not school guards, full-fledged, armed police officers from local police and sheriff’s departments—have become increasingly common in schools across the country.

After the Parkland shootings, there have been calls for more police protection in the schools. Let’s be real here—more police will mean more violence, not less. And it will be particularly aimed at Black and Brown youth.

Kai Koerber, a Black student at Parkland, powerfully expressed the reality faced by millions of Black students across the country. “The police presence at my school is not comforting. It’s intimidating… My once safe, beautiful school now resembles a prison. We have police towers in front, military-grade entry and exit points, and now we have invited those who are infected with the disease of prejudice to protect us.... It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks. Should we also return with our hands up?”

"The police are making their own rules and are turning our school into a police state. Every day, students lose more and more freedoms at MSD (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High). Students of color have become targets and white students have become suspects... Students of color, black and brown students, like myself have been racially profiled while we are on heightened alert, fearing the emergence of another Caucasian shooter.... I would like to see us not only reclaim our school, but our right to privacy on campus. We do not welcome the militarization of MSD. It is terrible to see our school lose control over the protection of their students and their facilities."

Koerber vividly expresses a reality that exists for millions of students across this country. Police now patrol 40 percent of the schools in the U.S. 70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement in school are Black or Latino. Children have been led away in handcuffs from elementary schools. In El Paso, Texas, a 7-year-old was taken to a holding cell by police, and all his mother knew was that he had been “misbehaving.” The boy said of the cop, "He carried me and put me in handcuffs, and when I was going to tell him what happened, he told me to shut up and I just wanted my family." Incidents like this have happened across the country; in Miami, in Kentucky, to 10 kids aged 6 to 11 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The most common charge against children and youth arrested in school is disorderly conduct. In other words, the police begin pinning arrest records on children as young as 6, priming them for a life in which the system sticks them with the label “habitual criminal.” More cops in schools means more youth in the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Gun violence won’t stop with more armed police—it will increase. It will make school more dangerous and threatening, especially for Black and Brown youth.

In this article, we addressed three threads that run through the discussion about gun violence in this society. But there needs to be much wider debate throughout society, debate that strives to get at the roots of the reasons and sources of this plague.




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