The Problem with Gun Control
If Guns Are Outlawed,
Only Oppressors Will Have Guns
Revolutionary Worker #1056, May 28, 2000
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the Mall in Washington DC on May 14, for a "Million Mom March Against Gun Violence." They demanded increased government restriction on the sale and possession of guns. Specifically, they demanded the passage of new laws requiring government licensing and registration of handgun buyers.
There has been shock over the mass shootings like Columbine High. In the inner cities, there is intense frustration and sadness at the mutual killing among teenagers tied to the drug trade. There is anger at the reactionary violence of the white supremacists, clinic bombers and right-wing militias. And for many people, including many of the marchers, the argument seemed like simple common sense: If guns are less available, there will be fewer shootings, and children will be safer."
In fact, to many people, this appears to be a progressive struggle--it has been portrayed in the media as a grassroots upsurge against powerful lobbyists, selfish gun manufacturers and right-wing nuts. And the Mother's Day march attracted participants who are veterans of the movements for reproductive choice and civil rights.
But behind the "grassroots" movement on the Mall stand powerful forces within the government, the ruling class and the police who are pressing hard for disarming much of the population.
More and more forces within the ruling class (including the major police departments) are calling for more centralized, uniform regulation of guns, gun sales and gun ownership. They want to expand their central computer records--to be able to pinpoint who has a gun and where it is stored. They want to be able to deny anyone a gun if they don't fit a certain profile and have not gone through a licensing process. They want to prevent civilians from having automatic weapons that could challenge the armed forces of the state. And they want to greatly stop the flow of weapons into the inner city--so they want much closer regulation of gun shows and the transport of weapons across state lines.
They know that this society is increasingly polarized between haves and have nots--and that there is potential for great upheaval. And looking to the future, they want large sections of the population disarmed.
So, it is important to think through what all this strengthening of government powers would mean for the people. And from the standpoint of the people oppressed by this system these gun control moves don't make any sense at all.
Killed by the Dog-Eat-Dog
In the inner cities of the U.S., people are sick of the youth dying--over nothing. It is heartbreaking, it is a waste of precious lives, and people want it to stop.
But to end such problems we have to look at the causes. If we don't understand the real workings of society, we will be tricked and misled.
The restructuring of American capitalism has robbed large sections of oppressed people of hope, jobs and opportunity--and left many youth no way to live except the drug trade. It is the workings of the capitalist system--including agents of the CIA--that flooded the ghettos with heroin and cocaine. The youth are hired on to sell it, and then the laws of dog-eat-dog capitalism have thrown them into desperate wars to defend turf from competitors. Gold chains = slave chains.
In short: the cause of shootouts, drive-by and so-called "gang killings" is the capitalist system--both high finance and street-level Reaganomics. And the so-called "war on drugs" has only unleashed an army of brutal, corrupt, and murderous enforcers in the oppressed communities--resulting in thousands of police murders and the criminalization of a generation. How will this situation be solved by disarming the people and arming capitalism's enforcers?
In the Black, Latino and immigrant communities, the police act like a brutal, occupying army; and as long as the people there are poor and oppressed, the police are going to brutalize the people. Does anyone really believe that the cops will be more respectful toward the people, if everyone is disarmed? Will the cops be more restrained about kicking in doors, if they know that no one can defend themselves?
The media coverage over Columbine gave the hyped-up impression of a national crisis and made many people afraid to send their kids to school. The authorities used this climate to bring cops into many schools. Kids are increasingly subjected to routine searches, drug tests and other violations of privacy. Kids who show signs of alienation are targeted as potential dangers. And major efforts have been made to increase parental control over kids.
But the recent book Framing Youth--Ten Myths about the Next Generation documents that in 1997-98, there were an average of four killings a month in all U.S. schools, while six children a day were killed by their parents. The male-dominated traditional family is a dangerous place--and only a profound social revolution can solve this problem.
Why are white suburban kids picking up guns and killing their classmates? What kind of ideology is behind this behavior and where does it come from? It is the capitalist system with its look-out-for-number-one, hate-anything-different, blow-away-anything-standing-in-your-way mentality that has raised these kids. How will giving more power over life and death to the capitalist state and the ruling class and their enforcers solve these social problems?
Then there are the militias and the clinic bombers and the racists running amok -- killing Blacks and Jews and Koreans and homosexuals and nurses and doctors. All of these movements are tied to powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class and military--and their ideas and organizations have been encouraged by forces right within the U.S. Senate itself. So how is giving the power structure and the capitalist state more control over guns going to get rid of these reactionaries? Right now there are armed vigilantes running around in Arizona trapping and shooting immigrant proletarians. Will these proletarians be safer if only the "good, white citizens," the INS, and the police have weapons?
Millions of people are sick of a world where people are divided into hostile cliques or face each other from behind barricaded doors. They don't want a world where every day conflicts can erupt into open gun battles. They don't want the sick macho mentality of "make my day."
And together we can struggle for a future society where guns only exist in museums, and school children will have trouble explaining why one human would want (or need) to shoot another. But the question is how do we get there? And who causes the senseless and reactionary violence in the world today?
It is the capitalist system, with its endless struggle for wealth and expansion, that has produced global "drive-bys" and an endless arms buildup. The real "weapons of mass destruction" are not in the hands of kids in Bed-Stuy, or South Central, or any other community. They are in the hands of the war-makers in the Pentagon (and their counterparts in other countries). And the ruling class of the U.S. are not talking about disarming themselves--only the masses of people.
The same week that Hillary Clinton marched in Washington for gun control, her husband announced a plan to provide $25 million in new bullet proof vests for police. And announced that he would propose an additional $300 million into the domestic "war against terrorism"--which means, for example, expanding Joint Terrorist Task Forces of FBI and local police in eleven more cities.
When guns are outlawed, only the oppressors will have guns. And that is not a good thing for the oppressed. The people have the right to defend themselves against the murderous attacks of the police and the reactionaries.
An Unarmed People Cannot Change the World
"The problem in the world today isn't too much violence; the problem is too much counter-revolutionary violence and not enough revolutionary violence."
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP,USA
We can't solve the drive-by shootings (or any other problems) by disarming the people, and leaving them defenseless before those police who beat Rodney King and murdered Amadou Diallo. To end the desperation of the youth, to end the killings over a street corner, you need to target the injustice of capitalism, the extremes of rich and poor, the lack of opportunity--you need to target capitalism.
People need a new society, a new kind of economy, new hope. We need to organize the people to fight for the power to change things.
The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade has a beautiful symbol. It shows a young fighter holding up an automatic rifle. And the message is pretty clear-cut: Revolutionaries believe that weapons are a good thing--in the hands of the conscious youth and oppressed people. Weapons in the service of the revolutionary cause are tools of liberation.
To some people, this idea of an armed revolution in the U.S. may seem far-fetched or extreme. But in fact it is a practical approach. Fundamental change can only happen by overthrowing the power of the oppressors. And the ruling classes know that they live by oppressing and exploiting billions of people--that is why they have armies and police to defend their system and power.
Throughout history, the great revolutionary movements have faced that fact soberly. V.I. Lenin, the leader of the communist revolution in Russia, pointed out:
"An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, only deserves to be treated like slaves. We cannot forget...that we are living in a class society, that there is no way out of this society, and there can be none, except by means of the class struggle."
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