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, 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 Revolution 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.