Virginians have been pouring out to county meetings across the state to demand local municipalities establish second amendment sanctuaries in response to proposed gun control measures from state Democrats.

“the school shootings and the attending meaningless discussions about gun ownership are a distraction from the real problem. And that problem is a complex one having to do with such things as the decay of our social support network and families, the unacknowledged fear permeating this collapsing empire, the exploitation of the citizenry by telling them there is danger at every turn — Muslims, crime, etc., and the vast unarticulated rage and insecurity that lies just beneath the surface of everyday life here. It’s hard to see it if you are a visitor, but even harder to endure if you happen to be a citizen of a country that holds a quarter of the world’s prison population, yet represents only six percent of the world’s population — a system that teaches us to value punishment and revenge over keeping our common society in good repair”

Joe Bageant

Since the last round of state elections the Democratic Party in Virginia will enter the next legislative session with a majority in both the state house and state senate along with control of the governor’s office. Liberals are celebrating their takeover and are already proposing legislation that could be both good and bad for Virginia workers. But the biggest issue taking center stage within the two-party system here in Virginia is gun control. 

State Democrats have made it clear for years now that they want gun control and have issued a platform of what that would look like. Taking advantage of the recent Virginia Beach shooting as well as past mass shootings here in Virginia and across the country they want to introduce sweeping legislation which would restrict access to arms and group arms training for Virginians. 

Republicans have only viewed this as a single issue and have failed to acknowledge the connections between it and the broader bipartisan effort across party lines to give more power to state government, more power to police, and more power to the federal government in their ability to criminalize, imprison, and control the general population. Just like the tragedy of 9/11 was used to pass sweeping laws and policies to attack US citizens’ rights while growing the state under the guise of “public safety”, we see the same reasoning and opportunism used with current state efforts in response to the fascist “Unite The Right” clash in Charlottesville in 2017 as well as our own state mass shootings.

For the last two years state Democrats, again with bipartisan support, worked to pass local ordinances pushed by the state government in response to the fascist “Unite The Right” rally. There was hardly any pushback on these efforts across Virginia municipalities despite the clear attack on Virginia workers’ ability to assemble, picket, and defend ourselves in doing so. Again, the official reasoning behind this concerted effort is based on the vague notion of “public safety” while using the boogeyman of fascists and lone wolf shooters to justify passing restrictions affecting our first and second amendment rights.

There is no real choice offered between the Democrats and the Republicans which doesn’t continue the attack on our formal rights as Virginia workers.  The NRA and the VCDL are not the organizations Virginia workers need to advocate our rights to organize, arm, and defend ourselves. These organized and well-funded groups focused on the issue of gun control monopolize and narrow the debate. .They are well-known for their narrow interests representing the most reactionary bases of support in the US; their call for second amendment sanctuaries show this. Liberals, on the other hand, like to portray themselves as the “responsible” ones who blame the “deplorables” for our high levels of gun violence and gun death. The bases of support between these two factions do function as useful idiots for their political leaders. Both sides are agitated by their leaders into an emotional fury at which point they are directed to the “solution” of the problem – removing the other side from office and passing more laws. There’s never any space given to analyze the root of these issues, just superficial legislation passed to give each base the impression their leadership is “doing something” about the issue while the people are left being used as cannon fodder by both sides and each chalks up their charade as a victory.

Mass shootings have been used for years now to push the debate on gun violence and gun deaths. This fact alone should tell you how twisted the mainstream narrative is. As horrific as they are, mass shootings are nowhere close to being a major source of gun violence and gun death. That credit belongs to suicides by gun, with over 64% of all gun deaths in the US. The rest are comprised of homicide – which neither side acknowledges a major source being police killing civilians. The rate of gun deaths has been increasing – both from suicide and homicide – over the last ten years. Yet no one is asking what’s causing this. It’s not rocket science, the spike corresponds with the Great Recession and its after-effects. Studies have shown if we want to decrease suicides we need to raise the wages of workers. Studies also show that poverty drives homicides. Workers’ real wages have been stagnant since the 70’s – right when the US government (with both parties) and corporations decided to attack the living standards of American workers by destroying unions, outsourcing manufacturing to third-world countries, automating jobs, and introducing new production techniques that force workers to work harder for less compensation. Everyone has seen the decline of conditions for workers in the US for decades now regardless which party has been in power. Democrats had the ability to raise the minimum wage when they had a supermajority in 2009, but instead forced us to bail out the corporations who triggered the Great Recession in the first place. 

So if both sides on this issue recognize the problem, mental health and its relation to suicide by gun, then why have they not done anything other than grow the state and the world’s largest prison system? This answer is also not rocket science. In order to address the root causes of these issues there has to be a major investment in resources for the people, this would include ensuring everyone has access to the necessities of life like housing, healthcare, education, and living wage jobs. All these things cost money, and neither side wants to upset their corporate overlords by redistributing the wealth appropriated by the 1% back to the 99%. Corporate America and their never ending pursuit for profit at any cost trumps all considerations for valuing human life – whether American or not. Profit over people is  the guiding principle behind both parties and their machinations to exploit our suffering as they sell us snake oil – whether that takes the form of anti-people laws which leave us disarmed, or the form of anti-people laws that further arms the state with new abilities to arrest, repress, and surveil.

The only solution for workers is organizing independently from the two-party system and that includes collective self-defense. Knowing who are our friends and who are our enemies is one of the most crucial steps we must take to get organized and realize our interests as workers – which is abolishing the conditions which creates mass suicide, mass homicide, mass incarceration, systemic white supremacy, and systemic male supremacy. Political power grows from the barrel of the gun, our corporate overlords know this and this is why they keep the core of the state (cops and the military) happy and armed, ready to ensure “public safety” whenever workers get out of line.




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