On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we speak with two members of the Socialist Rifle Association (SRA), about the organization and more broadly, about what it means to create an anti-racist current both within (and against) the current mainstream gun culture which largely has been occupied by the far-Right. The SRA currently has about 10,000 members and is a pan-Left organization, made up of anarchists, Marxists, and socialists. For a history of the group and a look at where they are coming from, we encourage people to read this interview several members conducted with the Anti-Fascist Network in the so-called UK.
From the interview:
It is important to understand that gun rights were enshrined in the US 2nd Amendment partly because of a need for armed violence at the frontier to continue the genocide of Native peoples, as well as Southern fears of slave uprisings. Gun rights were largely reserved for white people for most of US history, and during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, Black people who armed themselves for community defense were often massacred and disarmed by white mobs and police. Attempts by Black people and other marginalized groups to arm themselves have often led to increased gun control; the National Firearms Act of 1934 was partly justified by crime committed by Italian and Irish immigrants; the Gun Control Act of 1968 was partly put in place due to Civil Rights riots; the Mulford Act was passed in California and signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1967 in response to the Black Panthers; ‘Saturday Night Special’ laws banning inexpensive small caliber handguns were passed in the ‘70s in response to Black people in cities preferring those firearms. The history of gun control in America is the history of white people owning guns to oppress marginalized people; Black people and other marginalized folks acquiring guns to defend themselves; and white people then passing laws to disarm the marginalized.
Food security is community defense. pic.twitter.com/TE1IH1laXG
— Socialist Rifle Association (@SocialistRA) September 24, 2020
We cover a lot of ground throughout our discussion, and begin by talking about a current SRA project to create an autonomous gun range and more broadly about the work that the SRA is engaged in, from mutual aid and disaster relief to offering basic firearms instruction and safety training across the so-called United States. We then discuss and critique the existing gun-culture and why its current composition necessitates groups and spaces like the SRA. We also touch on how some SRA organizers are also becoming licensed firearm instructors, a position that in some communities is only filled by members of the NRA.
We’ve got you covered. pic.twitter.com/tnRNxSpTku
— Socialist Rifle Association (@SocialistRA) September 25, 2019
What we found most interesting about our discussion is how our guests, both SRA members of color, refused to pigeon-whole the group and its organizing. The SRA is neither a “left-wing militia” as it has been described by Centrist “extremist” think-tanks, nor does it exist to champion simply a left-wing version of the existing gun culture. Our guests instead describe how the work that the SRA is engaged in, is instead about providing basic safety and skills training to communities that historically have been bared from such access.
We’re going to do something that’s never been done before. We’re building the first range for leftists, #LBGTQ and #BIPOC in the US. But, we can’t do it without you. We’re more than 25% of the way to our fundraising goal. Every dollar maters: Plz donate: https://t.co/Y9PK1szuHl pic.twitter.com/VAliyMfkfh
— Southern New England SRA (@sne_sra) January 10, 2021