A (Brief) People’s History of Gun Control
From its very beginning, gun control — the attempt to regulate the possession of means of self-defense by the ordinary populace — has been closely associated with class rule and the class state.
In early modern England, regulation of firearm ownership was closely intertwined with the struggle by the landed classes and capitalist agriculture to restrict the laboring classes’ access to independent subsistence from the land. This included enclosure of common woodland, fen and waste — in which landless and land-poor peasants had previously hunted small game — for sheep pasturage or arable land. It also included exclusion of the common people from forests via the Game Laws and restriction of hunting to the gentry.
Under the slaveocracy of the American south, firearm ownership was prohibited by Black Codes that regulated free blacks. And after Emancipation, whenever the old landed gentry managed to successfully assert its power against the Reconstruction regime, former slaves were disarmed by house-to-house patrols, either under the Black Codes or by such irregular bodies as the Klan.
The same was true of the Civil Rights struggle a century later, after World War II. In areas where armed self-defense efforts by civil rights activists were widespread, they significantly improved the balance of power against the Klan and other racist vigilante movements. Numerous armed self-defense groups — e.g. the Deacons for Defense and Justice, whose members used rifles and shotguns to repel attacks by white vigilantes in Louisiana in the 1960s — helped equalize the correlation of forces between civil rights activists and racists in many small towns throughout the south.
Especially notable was Robert Williams, who in 1957 organized an armed defense of the Monroe, NC NAACP chapter president’s home against a Klan raid and sent the vigilantes fleeing for their lives. Williams’s book Negroes With Guns later inspired Huey Newton, a founder of the Black Panthers Party.
Speaking of the Black Panthers, no discussion of the origins of modern American gun control would be complete without recognizing their role in inspiring the modern right-wing gun control agenda.
Foreshadowing current groups like Copwatch and Cop Block, the Panthers in 1966 organized armed patrols of Oakland streets with rifles and shotguns, stopping to witness police interactions with local residents and provide information and offers of legal assistance when necessary.
In 1967 Republican state assemblyman Don Mulford of Oakland, a vocal enemy of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the Black Panthers, responded with a bill to prohibit publicly carrying firearms in California. The BPP’s Bobby Seale protested the bill by leading a Panther detachment, armed with .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols, up the steps of the statehouse (“All right, brothers, we’re going inside”), through its doors, and into the public viewing area. There Seale read a statement denouncing Mulford’s bill as an attempt “at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror and repression of black people,” and warning that “the time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”
Mulford’s gun control bill was signed into law three months later by Governor Ronald Reagan.
Irregular workers’ militias and armed defense formations played a significant role in labor history, both in the US and abroad. During the Copper Wars at the turn of the 20th century, the governors of several Rocky Mountain states instituted martial law — including door-to-door confiscation of firearms from workers’ homes and striker encampments. In some cases, as with the West Virginia Coal Wars and the Homestead strike, workers fought pitched battles against Pinkertons, state militia and sheriffs’ deputies.
In Spain it was largely owing to workers’ militias, organized under the auspices of the CNT trade union federation and the parties of the Left, that Franco’s July 1936 coup attempt failed. In the areas of southern and eastern Spain where Franco’s forces failed to carry the day, workers’ militias often played a decisive role. In some areas armed workers drove Franco’s troops back into their barracks after pitched battles and burned them alive inside.
From its beginnings the state has been an executive committee of the economic ruling class and an instrument of armed force by the owners of the means of production, enabling them to extract surplus labor from the rest of us. I can’t imagine why anyone would expect the state’s gun control policies to display any less of a class character than other areas of policy.
Regardless of the “liberal” or “progressive” rhetoric used to defend gun control, you can safely bet it will come down harder on the cottagers than on the gentry, harder on the workers than on the Pinkertons, and harder on the Black Panthers than on murdering cops.
January 22, 2013 - Posted by aletho | Civil Liberties, Supremacism, Social Darwinism, Timeless or most popular | Black Panther, Bobby Seale, Deacons for Defense and Justice, United States, West Virginia Coal Wars
No comments yet.
or go to
From the Archives
How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste
By Michelle Alexander | March 8, 2010
Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.” Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America.
Obama’s mere presence in the Oval Office is offered as proof that “the land of the free” has finally made good on its promise of equality. There’s an implicit yet undeniable message embedded in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks like; this is what democracy can do for you. If you are poor, marginalized, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for you. Trust us. Trust our rules, laws, customs, and wars. You, too, can get to the promised land. … continue
Aletho News Exclusive Content
This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
Also by Aletho News:
September 19, 2011
March 8, 2011
January 2, 2011
October 10, 2010
July 5, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 7, 2010
January 5, 2010
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 4, 2009
May 9, 2009
- Hariri tribunal charges Al-Akhbar chief with "obstruction of justice" April 24, 2014
- The Panopticon: A peek into Lebanese prisons April 24, 2014
- Israel suspends "peace talks" over Palestinian unity pact April 24, 2014
- Syria's Dagestan ruled by the sword of ISIS April 24, 2014
- Israeli forces attack Gaza fishermen, raid West Bank houses April 24, 2014
- Al-Qaeda takes over Yemeni hospitals to treat militants wounded in drone strikes April 24, 2014
- Egyptian media muzzled ahead of presidential elections April 24, 2014
- Second candidate submits bid for Syria's presidential election April 24, 2014
- Easter celebrations in Iqrit: Affirming the right of return April 24, 2014
- Egypt's army regains "complete control" of Sinai April 24, 2014
- Israeli forces target 2 armed group members wounding 13 Palestinian civilians, including 5 Children, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip April 24, 2014
- Mass Hunger-Strike Launched by Palestinian ‘Administrative Detainees’ April 24, 2014
- Palestinian girl badly injured by Israeli settler attack April 24, 2014
Categories"Hope and Change" Aletho News Civil Liberties Corruption Deception Economics Environmentalism Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism False Flag Terrorism Full Spectrum Dominance Illegal Occupation Islamophobia Mainstream Media, Warmongering Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity Militarism Nuclear Power Science and Pseudo-Science Solidarity and Activism Subjugation - Torture Supremacism, Social Darwinism Timeless or most popular Video War Crimes Wars for Israel
Looking for something?
This site is provided as a research and reference tool. Although we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the information and data provided at this site are useful, accurate, and current, we cannot guarantee that the information and data provided here will be error-free. By using this site, you assume all responsibility for and risk arising from your use of and reliance upon the contents of this site.
This site and the information available through it do not, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult your own attorney.
Nothing within this site or linked to by this site constitutes investment advice or medical advice.
Materials accessible from or added to this site by third parties, such as comments posted, are strictly the responsibility of the third party who added such materials or made them accessible and we neither endorse nor undertake to control, monitor, edit or assume responsibility for any such third-party material.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
The word "alleged" is deemed to occur before the word "fraud." Since the rule of law still applies. To peasants, at least.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
This is information for anyone that wishes to challenge our “fair use” of copyrighted material.
If you are a legal copyright holder or a designated agent for such and you believe that content residing on or accessible through our website infringes a copyright and falls outside the boundaries of “Fair Use”, please send a notice of infringement by contacting email@example.com.
We will respond and take necessary action immediately.
If notice is given of an alleged copyright violation we will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the material(s) in question.
All 3rd party material posted on this website is copyright the respective owners / authors. Aletho News makes no claim of copyright on such material.
Visits Since December 2009
- 1,727,120 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
- Colombia Professor Victorious in His Quest for Academic Freedom April 24, 2014
- Critics say new Egyptian business law to foster corruption April 24, 2014
- Putin: Kiev authorities are junta if they use force against civilians April 24, 2014
- NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop April 24, 2014
- 6 Reasons Why Obama’s Clemency Program For Drug Offenders Doesn’t Change Mass Incarceration One Bit April 24, 2014
- Guardian: wounding kids ‘proof of mistrust’ April 24, 2014
- Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid April 24, 2014
- Moscow praises Palestinian reconciliation efforts April 24, 2014
- US ‘disappointed’ by Fatah-Hamas reconciliation April 24, 2014
- Lavrov: Kiev issued ‘criminal order’ allowing use of weapons against civilians April 23, 2014
- A German Self Hater For A Change April 21, 2014
- The Controversy of Zion - Interview With Gilad Atzmon April 21, 2014
- Johnny Racist and A White Jew With A Fat Arse April 21, 2014
- Young Gilad (22 years old) in an Israeli Big Band April 20, 2014
- Jesus In Auschwitz For Easter (must watch) April 20, 2014
TagsAfghanistan Africa al-Akhbar Al-Manar American Civil Liberties Union American Israel Public Affairs Committee Argentina Bashar al-Assad Benjamin Netanyahu Brazil Britain Canada Central Intelligence Agency China CIA Colombia East Jerusalem Egypt European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation France Gaza George W. Bush Germany Gilad Atzmon Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights India Intelligence International Atomic Energy Agency International Middle East Media Center International Solidarity Movement Internet Iran Iraq Iraq War Israel Israeli settlement Japan Jerusalem John Kerry Latin America Lebanon Libya Ma'an Mahmoud Abbas Middle East National Security Agency NATO New York Times NSA Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia South America Syria Turkey UK Ukraine United Nations United States USA Venezuela West Bank Zionism