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 | Leave a Comment
or go to
From the Archives
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | The American Conservative | November 29, 2011
These days superpower nuclear-weapons controversies hardly elicit the excitement that once inspired such bumper-sticker slogans as, “you can’t hug children with nuclear arms.” The “no nukes!” movement has gone the way of the Cold War and MTV playing music videos, right?
In the 21st century, the 2002 Treaty of Moscow and 2010’s New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) were supposed set the clock on bilateral warhead reduction, and there are no plans for the production of more nuclear weapons. Pretty cut and dried, one would think. But like everything radiating out of Washington, the atomic drawdown is not what it seems.
Despite a deficit reduction plan to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years and ongoing negotiations by the so-called supercommittee to identify cuts of $1.5 trillion more, members of Congress are pushing an expanded plutonium storage and production assistance facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Critics say the facility is unnecessary, poorly designed, and dangerous—there are fault lines throughout the Los Alamos property—and its cost has ballooned from $375 million in 2001 to an estimated $5.5 billion today. … 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:
November 13, 2011
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
- ‘Russian arms defend Syria’ May 19, 2013
- Spying on the media and the US Congress: The AP seizures May 19, 2013
- Palestine: A march in Al Aqsa Mosque in protest at its desecration & demands about the condition of sick captive May 19, 2013
- UN General Assembly vote reflects shift in Syrian public opinion May 18, 2013
- Settlers attack West Bank farmer twice a week May 18, 2013
- Palestine: Youths make their way into apartheid wall, many injured in clashes & 18 houses demolished May 18, 2013
- Egypt to Gaza; The Gate and The Key May 17, 2013
- Arch AZZ Greenstein surrendered May 17, 2013
- Do Your Home Work by Louis Narcisi feat. Gilad Atzmon May 17, 2013
- Boston and Venezuela: Terrorism There and Here May 1, 2013
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. 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.
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.
Visits Since December 2009
- 1,460,950 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
- Bob Marley “War” May 19, 2013
- On Ambassador Sherman’s Testimony on Iran May 19, 2013
- Spanish court charges 22 policemen with causing serious harm to protester May 19, 2013
- Israel says no ‘compromise’ should be made with Iran May 19, 2013
- Israel youth movement shirts display anti-Arab racism May 19, 2013
- Unfreedom Tower casts a dark shadow over ‘Gulag America’ May 19, 2013
- At Universities, Too, the Rich Grow Richer May 18, 2013
- The Syrian Crisis: The Option May 18, 2013
- Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights May 18, 2013
- UK activists to call for Israel sports boycott May 18, 2013
- UPDATED WITH VIDEO: 13 year-old boy shot at by settlers, tortured by soldiers, denied medical attention May 19, 2013
- UPDATE: Woman arrested in Hebron is accused of stone throwing by a settler May 19, 2013
- UPDATED: Cousins of teenager murdered at checkpoint arrested May 18, 2013
- Photo essay: Israeli soldiers sing “We wish your whole village would burn down” to residents of Nabi Saleh May 18, 2013
TagsAfghanistan Africa al-Akhbar Al-Manar American Civil Liberties Union Benjamin Netanyahu Canada Central Intelligence Agency Egypt European Union France Gaza Hamas Hebron Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights International Atomic Energy Agency International Middle East Media Center International Solidarity Movement Iran Iraq Israel Israeli settlement Jerusalem Latin America Lebanon Middle East NATO New York Times Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey United Nations United States Venezuela West Bank Zionism