Some anarchist observations on the anti-gun march

On the 24th of March hundreds of thousands of mostly young students rallied on Penn Ave demanding an end to the massacres in their schools. At the very lead of the entire march was an African-American survivor of the Parkland Massacre and Black Lives Matter DC, which had sucessfully taken the lead position. National Guard trucks in the street looked like Baltimore 2015 or J20.

First things first: the students themselves are directly seeking to protect themselves from being murdered, and nobody can rightfully condemn them for that whatever their position on gun ownership. None the less, members of the Patriot Front showed up to counterprotest, some of them carrying heavy metal flagpoles that could be used as weapons. The National Guard was in the streets, nominally to prevent Charlottesville-style vehicle attacks by blocking with their trucks, and to direct traffic. Still, their presence looked like it did on J20 or in Baltimore, and raises the question of were they also present because Donald Trump fears high school students in these numbers so close to the White House.

One of the elephants in the room here is race: many Black Lives Matter activists and others have said the majority of young people being shot or otherwise murdered are killed one at a time in communities of color and often by police. One Twitter post asks: "Dear white or white passing youth: when you make policy proposals to fight gun violence do it WITH Black and Latina youth who’ve been organizing for years. Don’t call for more cops in schools or weaker privacy laws." The privacy laws issue refers to proposals to permit or require mental health providers et all to report what they learn about people to police.

One critique made by activists from communities of color of mainstream "school safety" proposals is that armed police in schools are themselves a direct threat to Black and Brown students. Over a million students have ended up in jail or prison because of these cops since governments started putting cops in schools after the 1999 Columbine massacre. The mass shooting incidents however are almost always the work of white shooters, leading many to joke that if gun control laws are to disarm people by presumed dangerous categories, white men would be the obvious place to start. Cops as well: as of March 26, 2018 police have killed 284 people this year, and mass shooters have killed 50 people warning-link is to Twitter. Given the huge disproportion of police shootings that murder people of color, it is no surprise that Black Lives Matter is totally rejecting cops in schools as a solution,

On the more general question of arming someone in school as Trump proposes, the question of who to trust is paramount. At Parkland the school cop deserted under fire, sitting outside doing nothing while students were shot inside by a nutjob with swastikas engraved on the magazines of his guns. Trump calls for arming teachers, but abusive teachers are also not unheard of. Students themselves could be armed, but armed bullies among them would again be a problem. Thus the question is one of who can be trusted?

The very large mobilizations of students promoting gun legislation as the way to stop the massacres are of course at serious risk of being absorbed as a movement into the Democratic Party, as this is a Democratic Party issue front and center. Beyond that, the Democrats would well be planning to encourage this movement to first absorb all the other anti-Trump movements, then be folded into the Democratic Party. If this happens, street level opposition to anything supported by both Trump and Hillery Clinton et all would be pre-empted and neutralized.

On the question of guns themselves several ugly realities come to the fore. First and foremost, the majority of "legal" guns in the US are owned by right-wing whites. In addition, many gun control laws have their origins in efforts to disarm people of color, beginning shortly after the Civil War. The restrictions on open carry in particular spread in the US after high-profile incidents involving the Black Panthers, who carried arms openly and legally to deter police brutality in places like Oakland, CA. Thus we see that both the distribution of guns to "conservative" whites and gun control laws in communities of color have often aimed at keeping whites armed and everyone else disarmed. Here in DC, the NRA treated DC gun laws as a case study but made no serious attempt to overturn them until upscale whites started moving into communties of color and wanted weapons because they were afraid of their neighbors.

A really ugly concern is existing armed enemies. Certain elements among neo-Nazis and the extreme-right are seemingly always arming for civil war, and some speak openly of such a thing. It is about as likely that these criminals would turn in their guns as it is that the big cocaine cartels would comply. With escalating far-right violence since the beginning of the Trump campaign, disarming everyone except them could be a dangerous mistake. The Democrats would say the police and the National Guard are the solution, but as we've seen in places like Michigan and Charlottesville the police all too often fight on the side of the Nazis and the KKK. So long as this continues, police guns and Nazis guns can be regarded as essentially part of the same arsenal. Speaking of police guns, more than a few progressives have conditioned support for any form of civil disarmament on disarming police as well.

Also here in DC, Black Lives Matter has called out Mayor Bowser for making a big public show of supporting the "March for our Lives" but refusing to fully fund the NEAR act. The NEAR act promotes community-level mediation and other real-world solutions to community-level violence that have been proven in other cities to dramatically reduce murders and assaults (especially stemming from interpersonal "beefs" without resort to police and prisons.

One final note is this: one wag has suggested that the most effective reponse by an unarmed crowd to an active shooter is to riot: everyone starts throwing shit and counterattacking at once. The shooter can't shoot people any faster than he would anyway, and is quickly taken down, stopping the attack. The usual single unarmed counterattackers have managed to stop active shooters is by waiting for a magazine change, then jumping the attacker. The more people participate, the better this works. This may be why airline hijackings have essentially disappeared since 9-11: anyone announcing a hijacking would instantly become the focus of a riot by almost all the passengers on the plane.

National Guard in the streets looked as they did during J20 or Baltimore

Black Lives Matter DC was in the streets and managed to seize the lead of the march associated with the rally

Trump Hotel as always a magnet for protest

For reference this was a National Guard position on J20/2017 as Trump was inaugurated

Another shot of Black Lives Matter DC at the head of the entire march

Patriot Front militia showed up to counterprotest, reports are some had heavy flagpoles

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