Friday, January 11, 2013

Guns no way

Familiar arguments over gun control were trotted out in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December in Connecticut. Proponents of gun control asked why is it easier to access fully automatic assault rifles than to access mental health care. Opponents of gun control argued for worker on worker violence.

The National Rifle Association argument against gun control is that guns are self-defence against armed criminals. Even fully automatic weapons are justified with reference to repelling rioters during the L. A. Riots in 1992 (in defence of property). It is not clear whether gun culture causes gun proliferation or vice versa. However the NRA argument isn't the chief argument made by “survivalists”, an ideology briefly put in the frame for responsibility for Sandy Hook.

The argument of survivalism is for individual armed defence against a tyrannical state. Strange then that one of the prominent examples is Ruby Ridge (1992) where the wife and son of Randy Weaver (an armed Green Beret) were shot and killed within the first two days of a siege of their home by US state agencies who were ready to bring in armoured personnel carriers. He fought the state alone and the state won.

It bears a parallel to arguments from some opponents of capitalism for a workers’ militia. Arms and the People (2012, Ed. Mike Gonzales, Pluto) observes of the Spanish Civil War :“It was the resistance of the workers’ militias that changed the situation. They had few arms to match the military. But what enabled them to hold off the professional soldiers was their conviction—their collective determination.”  But, as Engels once pointed out, the state is itself an armed body of men, a much more powerful one.

Looking at the balance sheet around the world or even as closely as of the Troubles in Northern Ireland where the British ruling-class tested new military methods of controlling civilian dissent, armed struggle seems a deadly fantasy. If anarchists want to become the next Angry Brigade, armchair generals want to fill the left-wing version in the American militia movement, or adventurists want something in-between like the Baader-Meinhof RAF cult, the consequences will be disastrous. Use of guns are inescapably as an offensive weapon and an oppressive act.

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