Would an armed leftist movement finally provoke sensible gun laws in America?

As I recall the whole idea of armed resistance by left-wing minorities being a good idea in the U.S. reached its ridiculous and predictable conclusion with the case of the black nationalist nutcases in the MOVE house in Philadelphia. All their pistols and rifles were for naught when the cops just decided to drop a blockbusting bomb from a helicopter onto the compound in 1985.


Fuck no! Gun laws in America are not driven by ideology. They are driven by gun manufacturers, the people the NRA actually represents.

People who actively attack effective law enforcement, promote urban violence by enabling a brisk illegal gun trade, and make nonsensical calls for military style arming of citizenry and police. We don’t need another political wing sending money their way.

BTW “Armed protest” is bullshit. The more appropriate term for that is “armed mob” or “lynch mob”. Weapons have no place in lawful political demonstrations

Racism drives up gun sales. Urban violence excuses racism and drives up gun sales. Mass murder drives up gun sales. Cops so afraid of the public they are shooting unarmed people constantly drive up gun sales.

So would be calls for left wing movements in “self defense”.


There you go. Armed movements giving excuses for militaristic responses by the government. Worse still, despite the overkill, it was probably met with widespread approval by the public.


It freaked people out back then, even though the MOVE people were guano crazy. The bomb killed 5 children and destroyed 65 homes in the middle of a large American city.

If something similar happened today the American right would be cheering it alongside their “president”.


I am pretty sure they were cheering for it back then too. The American right was always a bit big for racism and overkill. They just didn’t say it in public as loudly as today.

The thing I remember from the time is how the national MSM was totally incapable of describing what MOVE stood for and often didn’t mention that it was a black liberation movement or that the leader was crazy or anything. In the stories they’d just talk about “the MOVE house” and leave it at that.

The narrative wasn’t far off from “the Philly PD thwarted an invasion of bodysnatching aliens by destroying an entire city block”, which gave the impression that anyone’s home could be destroyed. As a result a lot of racists (esp. outside Philadelphia) didn’t know there was anything to cheer for in that regard.

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I was just offering some other examples, since you said the only one you could think of was the Black Panthers.

Even a lot of radical historians think that the paramilitary posturing of a lot of 70’s-era radical groups was a misstep, because as you point out, symmetric warfare with American police and military is a guaranteed losing proposition. I can appreciate that critique.

But Deacons for Defense or the armed black mutual security groups in Mississippi were kind of different. They weren’t waving guns around talking about a military revolution, they were quietly and strategically using firearms as a tool to make sure they didn’t get lynched in the deep south, where authorities could not be counted on to protect them.

I agree completely, but it would be unreasonable to expect any one specific factor to fix a huge, established systemic problem.

I also agree with this. There are many different areas of society (or spheres of life) where power is unbalanced, and to really solve the problem they all must be addressed. We should consider each of them and figure out how power can be re-distributed within that sphere. It would be a mistake to think that changing the balance in one place (e.g. access to physical protection) could resolve all the other imbalances. But it would also be a mistake to think that an imbalance in firepower is completely irrelevant. I think an example like the Deacons illustrates that in practice.


Okay. Thanks for that then. it is a good example.

I’m aware. The situation is still very different in this day and age with militarized police forces.

Is that what I said? Again, do you think I’m not aware that the problem is complicated and that there is no “magic bullet” (ha ha ha) solution? I mean, have I ever come off as someone who thinks we can easily fix our social problems?

Nothing I said assumed otherwise.

I have pretty much been pointing out this entire thread that an imbalance of fire power today means that approaches employed in the past aren’t going to be helpful in the same way. Given that people have been shot who have had firearms (and declared them to the cops) and so have people without fire arms, and rarely are the cops who fired the gun been held responsible, and that many police have military grade weapons at their disposal, generally means being armed against the police isn’t necessarily the answer here.


No, I figure you’re pretty well-informed and so have probably already considered most of what I have to say. But I want to say it anyway because I think it adds usefully to the picture you’re painting, and maybe something new could even develop from the exchange.

Yeah for sure. Times have changed since the New Left on both sides with regard to armed force. As you’re saying, police are FAR more militarized, and also there’s no longer a leftist armed revolution popping off every other month (and often seeming to win - how crazy must it have felt to be a leftist in that era). This definitely means that some things which seemed like a good idea back then are probably not now.

It isn’t necessarily the answer, but I think we both agree there’s nuance there. Police in general can win armed confrontations, but they’re not invulnerable and therefore being armed against them can affect the balance of power - even when no shots are fired by anyone.

But beyond that, physical defense applies to more than just police. Looking at the Deacons again, their main function was deterring opportunistic attacks by racist vigilantes. The ability to deter violence or abuse by private actors is also relevant when considering systemic balances of power.


Okay. Makes sense.


One example. Clearly the rate of people with carry permits is increasing, and shall issue is a factor as it replaces white supremacist “may issue” police discretion. Gun control remains racist, and liberal revisionism about how it “was” – but is now just good liberalism – is risible.



I think that’s a key point in this discussion. There’s lots of examples in this thread of small movements that tried to go toe to toe with police and failed miserably. That does not mean that the protections of the Second Amendment amount to nothing. It wasn’t meant as a bulwark against all transgressions of the government, but to enable mass rebellion against tyranny. Sure, the police are more militarized than they used to be, but there’s a tipping point where they’d still be unable to counteract a large enough uprising.
In before “your puny handguns are no match for American Military Might” with “Vietnam”.


Vietnam required several decades of determined resistance to Franco/Japanese/American domination, and included the saturation bombing of half of the country.

They managed to make the war expensive and embarrassing enough for the invaders to eventually give up and leave, but the people suffered immensely as a result. They are still recovering from that today.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the US military has spent the last two decades engaged in live testing of counterinsurgency techniques. They’re still no better at actually pacifying a country, but they’ve gotten very good at kicking in doors and disappearing people.

An asymmetrical insurgency can hold a country in a state of dysfunction, but it can very rarely actually defeat a major military power. Peasant uprisings nearly always lose.

Fortunately, violence is not the only way to do it.


Politicians who demand vaguely defined big increases in gun control drive up gun sales.

The question becomes where do you think that will come from? The Left or the hard right? I’m guessing that the hard right is more organized and more armed right now, and that’s the biggest threat of an uprising.

Indeed. What would a national uprising look like, too, here?

And the people that disappear won’t be the “sovereign citizen” types or the white supremacy types. We have a long history of leftist or black empowerment groups being targeted for domestic “counter insurgency”. COINTELPRO was almost entirely aimed at the Black Panthers, and look what happened to them.

Non-violent direct action does work - the only major variable now from the past is the amorphous nature of the media. The classical civil rights employed the media to great effect in getting some Americans on their side. Even by the end of the 60s, in the anti-war movement, that wasn’t nearly as effective (in part because of the anti-hippie sentiment that was becoming common). Today, the media landscape has no coherence at all. Getting out a clear message is tough, because it can easily be distorted by even the most well-meaning outlets. All to often, when we use social media platforms to get an idea or concept out, we end up preaching to the choir - rarely do we reach those who we might disagree with, except to attract troll attacks. I find myself a bit flummoxed about what to about that issue.


My money’s on yet more loosening of weapons ownership laws and the state encouraging vigilante justice and a freedom to kill perceived lefties.

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The short answer is: no.


No. I hope you’re joking.

Not seeing that at all.

Gun sales, legal or otherwise are generally driven largely by panic. Enabling a brisk illegal gun trade through lack of effective gun control laws drives up sales of guns both to inner city youth and suburbanites fearing said inner city youth.

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