We support gun ownership for everyone, left right and center. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, whatever your political persuasion.
We’ve also noted the new-found interest in guns on the part of some leftist groups. Some of them apparently think there are gulags and concentration camps just waiting for them under the current administration. Whatever.
As long as they’re responsible and follow the applicable laws (of which there are far too many), they have the same right to armed self defense as any other American.
When first we heard about the Socialist Rifle Association a few months ago, we contacted them to find out what’s what. We asked if they’d like to write something for us to publish about their organization. The person to whom we spoke (she wouldn’t give us her name) promised to do that, but never followed through.
As for their philosophy regarding guns, according to their web site . . .
The Socialist Rifle Association is an educational organization dedicated to providing the working class with the information they need to be effectively armed for self and community defense. This includes all manner of community defense, from the right of the working class to possess firearms to the ability to be well versed in the fields of medicine, disaster relief, logistics, agriculture, and survival skills.
Our goal is to provide an alternate to the mainstream, toxic, right-wing, and non-inclusive gun culture that has dominated the firearms community for decades. We seek to provide a safe, inclusive, and left-leaning platform for talking about gun rights and self defense, free from racist and reactionary prejudices, while providing a platform for the working class to obtain the skills necessary for all aspects of community defense.
Someone at the SRA apparently had a brainstorm for promoting their org — join the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry’s trade association. So they did. Briefly.
On Friday, July 19th, the Socialist Rifle Association became an official non-profit member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF conducts expansive industry research, provides grants to colleges for firearms sports, and is the largest firearms trade association in America. The decision to become a member of the NSSF was made with the intent of living up to the SRA’s goal of arming and training the working-class for self and community defense.
While we understand the NSSF to be a fairly reactionary institution, our hope was to introduce the concept of left wing gun ownership and advocacy to the larger firearms community, especially through participation in events such as SHOT Show. Our announcement of membership in the NSSF was met with broad support from our members, who, like all proponents of the right to self-defense, want to ensure the protection of Americans’ second amendment rights.
When the NSSF became aware that the SRA had joined, they concluded that the org’s beliefs and goals are counter to what the NSSF stands for. So they refunded the fee the SRA had paid and terminated its membership.
You can read the SRA’s account of the whole kerfuffle here. As they argue . . .
It is worth questioning the NSSF’s wisdom in barring socialists from participating in their trade association. Free market capitalism is deeply unpopular – a 2018 Gallup poll found that a majority of millennials prefer socialism to capitalism, with the latter becoming less popular every year.
While many of these millennials may define “socialism” as some form of social democratic system, it is undeniable that “free market capitalism” is not a winning message with the soon-to-be majority age demographic in America. If the NSSF wishes to preserve the right to bear arms, they would be well served by casting as wide an ideological net as possible, so as to avoid becoming irrelevant.
They also re-printed an email from NSSF’s Mark Oliva . . .
We talked to Oliva who confirmed that the SRA’s account of what happened is accurate. And when you think about the NSSF’s decision for 30 seconds, it makes perfect sense.
The Foundation is the firearms industry’s trade group, funded by manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges. A NSSF member organization that believes in and advocates the government seizure and ownership of the means of production is contrary to what the NSSF stands for.
Free-market capitalism is what built the firearms industry in this country. If the SRA’s beliefs were implemented — something more people and politicians seem to be advocating every day — that would damage not only the industry but the right to keep and bear arms as well.
Oh, and as for the SRA’s contention that free market capitalism is “deeply unpopular,” that isn’t reflected in recent polling which shows a scant 10% of Americans have a positive view of socialism. It seems that when you ask people outside of college campus faculty lounges, mainstream media news rooms and large coastal cities, the idea of establishing an American worker’s paradise isn’t particularly attractive. Go figure.
Still, the SRA says all the right things about civilian gun ownership . . .
Gun control is a fundamental component of neo-liberal capitalism and its tendency to commodify, infantilize, and enslave working-class people. Socialism, on the other hand, is a philosophy concerned with emancipating working class people and allowing for their greatest development of individual will and expression. And the right to bear arms for self and community defense is a critical component of that mission. It’s a common saying on the left that, “If you go far enough left, eventually you get your guns back.” Indeed, there is a long tradition in both socialist and left-anarchist theory of supporting the right to bear arms.
The only problem with that is it isn’t born out by history. Civilian populations have been disarmed the world over wherever socialism has been implemented, with the attendant disastrous consequences.
But the SRA got themselves a win with the NSSF rejection. They can wave their red flag and trumpet the fact that the NSSF won’t have it as a member (if anyone’s listening). It will probably be a (minor) PR plus in their circles.
If it’s any consolation, though, our offer still stands. If anyone at the SRA is listening, we’d still like to publish something from them laying out their philosophy and their take on the need for armed self defense and the individual right to keep and bear arms. We’d love to hear how and why their brand of socialism won’t turn out the way it has everywhere else. Our door is always open.