By: José Niño
While the American Left has traditionally been known for its anti-gun stances, there is a minority on the Left who still believes in some form of gun rights.
This tradition goes back to Eugene V. Debs, the famous labor activist and presidential candidate, who was imprisoned during World War I for his calls to resist the military draft.
Unlike the modern-day Left, Debs at least acknowledged the importance of the Second Amendment. Debs defended the right to bear arms on the grounds that it served as a way for the working class to defend itself from the abuses of unscrupulous industrialists.
In the September issue of the International Socialist Review back in 1914, Debs explained to his readers:
“Recollect that in arming yourselves, as you are bound to do unless you are willing to be forced into abject slavery, you are safely within the spirit and letter of the law. The constitution of the United States guarantees to you the right to bear arms, as it does to every other citizen.”
Even to this day, there is a faction of leftists left who recognize the importance of the right to bear arms. One of these is freelance journalist Kim Kelly.
Kelly recently penned an op-ed titled, “Biden’s gun control plan is terrible for working class firearm owners” where she made the case that Joe Biden’s current gun control platform hurt’s America’s working class.
Kelly cited Biden’s “assault weapons” registration scheme as one of the more regressive elements of his gun control schemes. Under Biden’s plan, so-called “assault weapons” — an arbitrary category that is actually made up of semiautomatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns — would be subject to a $200 tax. This plan builds off the National Firearms Act (1934). The NFA currently regulates the sale of machine guns, suppressors, and short-barrel rifles.
Such legislation satisfies the anti-AR-15 craze that many gun controllers have developed over the years. According to National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), there are 16 million AR-15s in private hands. Any kind of attempt to restrict ownership of these firearms will be met with great pushback, which journalists like Kelly have the intellectual honesty to recognize.
Kelly set the record straight about Biden’s potential gun grab:
“Regardless of one’s opinion on guns and gun control, it is obvious that this proposal will disproportionately impact poor and working-class communities. Those within those communities who already own firearms would be robbed of their ability to protect themselves and their loved ones, while their wealthier counterparts would skate by on their ready piles of cash.”
Gun control regulations essentially put barriers in front of prospective gun buyers and make it more expensive, if not impossible, for working class families to defend themselves. Think about it: not everyone is Michael Bloomberg who can contract their own private security. For the rich, going through bureaucratic hoops and filling out paperwork is a trivial expenditure of time and money. On the other hand, the working class get priced-out of their right to bear arms, which Kelly succinctly acknowledges:
“Biden’s plan falls into a long line of government efforts to disarm the working class while keeping the lanes clear for the privileged who can afford whatever legal curveballs are thrown their way.”
The Second Amendment movement is by no means shut off to dissident elements of the Left.
No two gun owners will agree on every political question. As long as they agree on the basic tenets of the right to bear arms, they can keep this time-honored tradition of the American political experience going. If more leftists followed Kelly’s lead, universal respect for the Second Amendment in America would be a much more attainable goal.
José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.