Marxist View on the Gun Control Movement

Following the recent tragedy in Parkland that ended in the deaths of 17 people, a movement of students has formed in response to the ever growing issue of mass shootings in schools. Their methods have varied from basic activism to walkouts and disruptions in the schools. The tactics of these movements are basic, tried and true methods of student organising and are of no real issue. What is the issue is the very nature and core base of this movement. These issues have fueled the discourse of the radical left in the recent weeks on whether or not to support and participate in this movement. What further fuels the skepticism towards the movement is its core member base, the support it receives from bourgeois forces, and the fact that an anti-gun movement is contradictory to the very foundations of Marxism-Leninism. I will attempt to explore the criticisms of the movement and pull positives as well, to see if there is any benefit the communist can pull from it.

First let us look at the core member base of the movement. It is no secret to any comrade that has been watching the news that the movement has been mostly mobilising in the bourgeois suburban areas. Very few working class communities are taking part in it, and the ones that have are being spearheaded by the richer and mostly white minority. This latter point does not mean much except for the fact that, this movement does not stand in working class interests. Bourgeois liberalism does not and never will represent the interests of the working class, especially when they want to deprive them of their very means of self-defence. In the inner city especially, the growing threat of gentrification looms over many. This ever growing threat has led to an increasing need for community self-defence committees and community policing. Working people have never trusted their landlords and the police and now it is becoming impossible to rely on them at all. The bourgeois forces that can afford to spearhead this student movement do not know of this and in their ignorance push against proletarian interests. They will push for gun control but, will never push for an end to police violence. They will never push to end the white supremacist society. They will never push for working class interests. And comrades, there is no hopes of entryist opportunism in here. This movement is backed by the powers that be. They recieve money and coverage from the large bourgeois powers due to an approved and sanitised message that can sit well with the middle class and bourgeoisie. There is no need for, nor should, any self-respecting Communist participate in the leadership of these movements. That would be capitulation to the bourgeois class.

We must delve further into the nature of the movement and see how it is truly bourgeois. Many have wrongly compared this movement to the Black Lives Matter movement formed in response to police brutality and the destruction of African-American communities due to gentrification. This comparison is a disgusting insult to the Movement for Black Lives. BLM is a movement built on the working people and their interests. It is spearheaded by working people and has a revolutionary message, minus some liberal detractions. The recent student movement is not being spearheaded by the working people in most cases. For those cases of working class students organising, all power to them! They deserve our support. They understand, at least partially, that the message of complete gun control would negatively affect their ability to resist the police and gentrification. The fact is that these anti-violence student movements have existed far longer than the liberal student movement we see recently. Students in working communities have been ignored and still are ignored by the bourgeois media because their message does not align with the status quo. This will continue until revolutionary action is taken by them but, what is the greatest shame is that these movements are suppressed. They are consistently crushed by the school and their organisers are suspended or expelled. What did we see with the recent walkouts? Support from school administration! Why is this? The bourgeois status quo can live with it. What adds insult to injury is the fact that the student organisers are partially cognisant of this. They ignore the work of the working people movements that came before and claim themselves as new phenomena and forces of change. Submitting to the status quo and seeking validation from those who exploit is not revolutionary and it is not befitting a communist!

Comrades, those of us who are even the least versed with Marxism-Leninism will be familiar with the quote from Mao Zedong; “Political power grows from the barrel of a gun”. This is true in many ways. Just as the revolutionary uses the gun to achieve peace and secure peoples power, the reactionary shall use it to crush the revolution and oppress the people. The necessity of revolution and people’s war are evident, meaning that any movement seeking the prohibition of firearms is not in our interests. Could the people of Petrograd protected the Soviets without arms? Or the Chinese people defend democracy? Could the colonised people across the globe liberate themselves without the gun? No! Now one may say, “what of the rise of fascism across the world? Do we want them to have guns?” The common sense answer to this is of course not. Fascists having arms is obviously bad. But one must realise that access to firearms is a double-edged sword. If we want to have guns, we must allow our tactics to include reactionaries having them. Campaigning for gun control may take guns from nazis but, will also prevent working people from obtaining them. We must accept that fascists having guns will happen and not succumb to liberal opportunism out of some terrible conjecture. Also, to suggest that these anti-gun movements have the slightest hint of anti-fascism besides the liberal version (which is essentially complacency) is foolish ignorance.

Lastly comrades, what can be taken from the movement? In the words of Lenin: “What is to be done?” Well much more than you might think. Obviously, the massacre in Parkland was a huge tragedy. This and the ever rising amount of school mass shootings is nothing to laugh at or ignore. This is an issue that is important to all students, working people, and us. This movement however is not the way. Participation in its leadership will not change the foundation and nature of it. However, participation in the walkouts and other protests has benefits. One of these is that they serve as a way to remember those who died. To repeat, the Parkland shooting and indeed all mass shootings are tragic events brought on by the capitalist society in America and the embedded white supremacy. To go out and participate in memorial services and such should be encouraged. The walkouts and events also provide a platform for propaganda and respectful agitation. It allows us as communists to speak to people about our ideas in an open forum. This and other forums like it should be supported and encouraged. We should also take the time to organise similar events of a more revolutionary nature if possible. Some may doubt the need for open ideological forum and to counter this, look to what Mao Zedong said:

“Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred ideologies contend”

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