By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Contrary to popular belief, there IS a Pro-Gun Left. In fact, having left-wing ideology is not incompatible with respecting gun rights or the right to self-defense. In fact, if you go far enough left you keep your guns.
Not only that, but having guns and ammunition for one’s own protection as well as that of one’s fellows – personal protection and/or “militia” or something along those lines – is actually a hallmark of some leftist ideologies.
If you were thinking that guns and stuff was only for conservatives that’s a bill of goods somebody sold you right before they intended to ask you for something.
“We’re the only people who care about this issue,” they say, “now open your wallet.” It’s the oldest trick in the book; make people afraid and then tell them you have the only solution, for a price.
But one digresses.
Yes, Virginia, there is a pro-gun Left. Not only that, there are actually pro-gun liberals. It’s just that they tend to not be as loud as the anti-gun Left and anti-gun liberals.
But first, we have to take a detour to PoliSci 101, because a lot of people don’t know what “The Left” actually is. Start reading comments on Facebook or what have you and that becomes painfully obvious!
Bear in mind, this isn’t to advocate for or against any one particular idea, ideology or group. This is to say that “The Left” exists, and if we’re going to talk about it we might as well understand what it actually is so we may do so competently.
Joe Biden, for instance, is not a leftist. If you look at the policies Bernie Sanders proposes (instead of how he says he’s a socialist) he isn’t that ardent a leftist. Kamala Harris is definitely not a leftist.
If you actually asked a real leftist, they’d say Joe Biden is a slightly more liberal George Bush. Bernie Sanders is at best a Social Democrat, which is a standard liberal basically everywhere else in the world. Kamala Harris is darn near a Nixon Republican.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez? AOC is to The Left what Michelob Ultra is to imperial stout. Sure, they’re both beer but one of these things is not like the other.
Say this with me: “Liberals are not leftists.” Be in no doubt about this: actual leftists hate liberals about as badly as some conservatives do.
Noam Chomsky? Now HE is a leftist.
So, to explain something.
“The Left” is a very broad umbrella, encompassing a diverse spectrum of political philosophies.
What most agree on is the importance of social equality, collectivist/egalitarian economic and other policies, and a disdain/distrust for and desire to do away with hierarchies that have deleterious effects, real or imagined.
Exactly what all that means differs according to what type of leftist you ask. What a real, honest-to-goodness socialist thinks is going to be vastly different than what an anarchist thinks. While both are leftist ideologies, they are radically different. Polar opposites, in fact.
Now, leftist political philosophies divide into two broad categories, just as right-wing ideologies do (it’s the same bifurcation) once one has gone beyond the center.
You have the authoritarian left and the anti-authoritarian left, just as you have authoritarian right-wing ideologies (fascism, nationalist totalitarianism, theocrats) and non-authoritarian ones such as anarcho-capitalists, minarchists and so on.
The authoritarian left are the people your mother warned you about. Statist socialists, Marxist-Leninists/Bolsheviks, Trotskyists, Maoists and the like.
The authoritarian left wants a collectivist government imposed either in specific areas, nations and/or worldwide. They want it imposed by force if needs be and controlled by The State, who will assume total ownership of the means of production along with everything else.
They promise it will be for the good of everyone this time.
That’s the authoritarian left, or as they’re sometimes called “tankies,” so-called as a derogatory reference to the tanks in Tiananmen Square. After all, the notion of liberating people from oppression by forcing them to accept new oppressors is darkly hilarious.
The statist left is generally opposed to anyone having arms and ammunition besides those in service to “the people’s government.” After all, Lenin took all the guns and ammunition, not that the Czar let many people have them anyway.
But what about the anti-authoritarian left?
The anti-authoritarian left includes libertarian socialists, anarcho-communists, mutualists and other persons who loosely agree on certain principles.
Broadly, this category of “the Left” all agree on desiring an end to political, economic and cultural oppression. Broadly, they believe that authority of any kind must be either mutually agreed on or failing that, demonstrate it’s worth or be dismantled.
Broadly speaking, they generally oppose capitalism or at least capitalism as it’s currently practiced. They to some degree oppose the existence of the state, or at least government on anything beyond a local scale.
Most believe the means of production should be controlled by the workers, and not the state supposedly acting on the workers’ behalf. In other words, unionized labor and employee-owned (or community owned) businesses.
Granted, such businesses exist, and are actually profitable, such as credit unions, and of course there are many employee-owned companies across many different verticals.
The Green Bay Packers of the National Football League are a community-owned, not-for-profit corporation, so it can even work for big brands…even if they TOTALLY BLEW IT BY NOT GOING FOR IT ON FOURTH DOWN, but one digresses.
Okay, but what does that crap have to do with there being a pro-gun left?!
The anti-authoritarian left disagrees with the tankies in that they believe in individual rights, including the right to arms and ammunition. You aren’t really free if you’re subject to violent repression by the state, by the employer class, and by other non-governmental organizations.
For instance, some people have heard the following quote:
“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; efforts to disarm the people must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”
Now, some people believe this was said by Ronald Reagan, but in actual fact it was Karl Marx. He almost certainly said “efforts to disarm the workers,” but quotes are subject to the telephone game like anything else of course.
The anti-authoritarian left, again, believes in individual freedoms including the right to self-defense. It is therefore necessary and proper for people to arm themselves for personal protection, against criminals but also to resist tyranny by the state…
…but also against tyranny against labor. This isn’t as much of a thing anymore, but prior to World War II, there was something of a history of violence against labor and especially against labor of the organized variety.
Granted, there was also some from labor, especially of the organized variety, such as the Molly Maguires and a number of strikes that took some violent turns.
If you were, say, a steel worker that wanted safer and better working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th century, Pinkertons and other company goons were or could be a real danger. Today, they’ll just fire you.
Not that they’ve gone away entirely; the Pinkerton agency (which still exists) was reported to have been hired by Amazon to surveil workers in case they wanted to unionize. And there are some reports of some pretty bad working conditions for Amazon warehouse workers, so it’s not like the (arguable) need for unions has completely dissipated.
Anyway, back to the point: the anti-authoritarian left is opposed to coercion from hierarchies, whether that’s the state, employers, or non-governmental organizations that might attempt to compel or otherwise harm them.
Leftist ideology also places a much higher premium on inclusiveness of other races, genders, sexual orientations and so on. One cannot say that minorities have not been faced with violent threats (the KKK is a thing) and as such, being armed is a means to fight back.
There were definitely a few times where those white-hooded morons got their comeuppance at the hands of those they meant to oppress, so the idea of minorities needing the same amount of 2A rights as everyone else is not without merit.
In other words, the idea is for the working class, and indeed any other underprivileged class, to have the means to respond to force with force, and that means being armed.
And that’s the position of the pro-gun left. They view the right to self-defense and the right to carry and bear arms pretty much the same way that many other Second Amendment enthusiasts do; it’s just that their rationale is a little different.
And that’s reflected in a number of pro-2A organizations that are…a little different than the NRA or the Gun Owners of America.
You have the Pink Pistols, a pro-2A LGBTQ group that advocates for gay, lesbian, trans, queer and otherwise people to have the right to armed self-defense and to carry and bear in case attacked. You don’t get to say LGBTQ people have not been subject to violent threats because of their sexual orientation, because they clearly have.
The Black Panther Party were definitely advocates for the Second Amendment, and urged members to open carry. Members with military service, many of them Vietnam veterans, gave other members marksmanship and safety training to ensure they were competent.
Today, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club carries on that tradition as an African-American gun rights organization.
Then you have the Socialist Rifle Association, a thoroughly leftist gun rights organization. In 2019, they were briefly admitted and then kicked out of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF cited their foundation as being incompatible with the NSSF’s commitment to capitalism.
Related pro-gun groups with a similar bent include Redneck Revolt and the John Brown Gun Club, though those groups tend to be more regionally-focused. The John Brown Gun Club is mostly concentrated in the Puget Sound area, and Redneck Revolt is more concentrated in the south and Midwest.
Again, this isn’t to endorse these groups, their ideologies or positions or what have you. This is to acknowledge their existence, and possibly to offer some evidence to the contrary to anyone who believes that somehow gun rights are solely the domain of one area of the political spectrum.
As the saying goes, if you go far enough left you get to keep your guns.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.