(February 23rd, 2018)
In an unfortunate sign of the times, across the USA, schools and other workplaces are stocking up on trauma bags designed to help stop people from bleeding out after a mass shooting event. Gun companies on the stock market see their shares skyrocket as capitalists await the next big consumer gun rush as panic turns into fear that soon all the guns may disappear. In a widely reported, somewhat misleading factoid - since the new year, 2018 has been witness to 18 different events where a firearm was discharged in a school related environment. The disturbing trend of random mass acts of indiscriminate violence continues on year after year and with that the conversation about guns and violence cycles on via social media, dinner table debates, and the endless hum of the newsroom reels.
After the mass shooting in Parkland High School on February 14th, the conservation quickly shifted from the adults interviewing kids on television and asking them to describe the dead bodies they had just seen, seriously what’s wrong with people, to what the Republicans and Democrats in the government could do to solve the problem. While far from an expert on guns or the history surrounding these ideas of control, it seems that efforts in the USA behind gun control have always been racially motivated. The white supremacist history of gun control and the racial disparity of the proceeding outcome.
So really, what is the problem? Individuals and groups from all over the political spectrum have for years placed the blame on video games, music, and technology, to mental health and post-industrial civilization, and everything in-between. The not so clearly at times lines drawn in the sand, range from those on the left aiming for stricter more “common sense” gun control (but what about when cops kill teenagers?) and those on the right vying for more surveillance and security. The right wants to arm teachers, increase surveillance, metal detectors, “school resource officers” which is just a fancy name for having cops in schools, concealed carry, and basically turn education, already with so many other problems, further into the panopticon of real life jail cell doors. And finally, you have a large majority of the youth across the institutions of General Education energized into the polarization of this or that framework of “reform”. If only the SnapChat redesign wasn't so terrible maybe these kids could steer themselves away from the two clear roads to nowhere. There is an old Cuban saying that says that, “the classrooms are like the jail cells” in reference to limited free speech there, people keeping track of any non-conformity, and the repression that follows if you don't fall into line.
All of these spontaneous new enlightened faces wanting to do something about their future, local organizers and #woke activists pushing forward alongside the barreling train of momentous outrage. An important question to consider from the last episode of “The Hotwire” inquired, what can anarchists do if protests coming out of this are all about gun control? Furthermore, how do we keep the conversation anarchist and put on our best anarchist public relations face?
Should Red Neck Revolt be organizing more pro-gun rallies? Obvious answer – but, if not, then what? And who? Should anarchists be open carrying in the places where such things are permitted, more than they already do? Of course, but that’s easy for me to say here. I’m in a State that has one of the nations toughest laws on guns, so it’s also a bit eye-opening to see anarchists open carrying at demonstrations in other far off places. An old leftist upon visiting New York City towards the end of the 19th century, said that anarchists on Sunday would not be found in the Church pews, but rather out “in the streets” target practicing and shooting their guns. Oh, how the times have changed! On the brighter side, various anarchist-orientated gun and self-defense clubs have existed over the years and have seemingly gained popularity recently with the election of Trump - with groups like Red Neck Revolt and “Trigger Warning” anarchist gun clubs springing up across the states. I'd be very curious to learn about anarchist gun culture outside of the United States of America, but I’m also afraid that perhaps there isn’t much of one. After all, Americans really do love their guns. You can even 3D-print your own gun now, which really rings true to the anarchist idea of DIY.
In all, this editorial may be amiss if I didn’t mention one very well known anarchist who has written and spoken extensively over the years on mass shootings - John Zerzan. They write: “The antidote lies in finding a basis for a renewal of community: moving away from the technified wasteland of ever more massified and dispersed society. We must not stumble on with what passes for political dialog, a discourse that addresses almost nothing of real consequence. The shocking scandal mounts and it is past time to look at what society is fast becoming and why.” On another note: A recently published book called “Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self-Defense” edited by scott crow is a wide-ranging anthology uncovering the hidden histories and ideas of community armed self-defense, exploring how it has been used by marginalized and oppressed communities as well as anarchists and radicals within significant social movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Among the multitude of overwhelming things going on in the world, locally / internationally, with friends, family, loved ones, work, and enemies here is another potent subject rearing it’s head towards the top for anarchists and their friends to think on, plan, discuss and move.