By Caleb Maupin
In New York City, it is illegal to carry a firearm, whether a handgun or sporting rifle, without a permit. With this ban as an excuse, the New York City Police Department carries out a policy of “stop and frisk” that is aimed primarily at youth of color.
The police, for no legal reason, frequently stop Black and Latino/a youth and pat them down under the guise of hoping to find illicit weapons. The justifications given for these degrading “stop and frisks” are outrageous, such as “a suspicious bulge” or “furtive motions.” As a coalition of mostly young Black activists fighting this policy put it, the real reason is almost always nothing more than “walking while Black.”
Recently, Ramarley Graham was walking home in the Bronx. He was stopped by police, but rather than be searched, he escaped. In response, the police stalked him and fatally shot him in his apartment.
There is a group of “gun rights” activists who call themselves the Second Amendment Movement, referring to the part of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right of the people to bear arms. However, they are not involved in the struggle against “stop and frisk.” Nor can they be found among those who have been part of the heroic civil disobedience campaigns and protests aimed at this repressive policy.
This right-wing movement instead campaigns for capitalist politicians, rails against communism and now champions the racist killer George Zimmerman.
They and the rest of the gun lobby are sponsored by firearms manufacturers and the military-industrial complex. The aim of these forces is not to protect oppressed people from the repressive capitalist state, but to protect and reinforce the racists and vigilantes who terrorize oppressed people.
In addition, these groups whip up racist stereotypes and fear of crime in order to sell more of their products. They promote this vile racism, resulting in more senseless killings.
Does this mean that a ban on firearms would be a good thing? No! A ban on firearms would be a setback for the workers and oppressed peoples of the U.S.
Right to self-defense
Racist murderers like George Zimmerman and his racist ilk in the Ku Klux Klan and other neofascist vigilante groups will always be able to obtain weapons. Their allies in the police departments, the FBI and other organs of the state will enable them to wage terror against oppressed people, whatever laws exist.
A ban on firearms would also not disarm the racist murderers in the police departments throughout the country. The Pentagon brass, the greatest collection of armed, warmongering profiteers, would remain armed to the teeth.
Marxist-Leninists unapologetically defend the right of workers and oppressed people to defend themselves with any means available. Historically, there have been many occasions in the people’s struggle for justice where guns have been utilized.
When civil rights activists were being murdered in the South, the Monroe, N.C., chapter of the NAACP, under the leadership of Robert F. Williams and Mae Mallory, beat back KKK terror in the 1960s through armed self-defense of their community. The Black Panther Party shook up the racist establishment when its young members patrolled Oakland, Calif., monitoring the activities of the police while carrying shotguns and law books.
During the Depression, when Nazis from the Silver Legion of America mobilized to attack the Teamsters in Minneapolis, the union, led by communists, formed workers’ defense guards. This caused the fascists to back down.
For years coal miners had to arm themselves against the violence of company goons trying to break their union.
As long as class oppression and racist violence exist, workers and oppressed people will need to defend their just struggles, sometimes with weapons in hand. It is a right that must not be surrendered.