Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hate crime and gun laws attack democratic rights

Oppose More Gun Control Laws

Editorial - July 19, 1999

Liberal politicians and other capitalist political figures are using the recent killings by ultrarightist gunman Benjamin Smith in Illinois to press for more "hate crime" laws and restrictions on firearms. This, they claim, is the only answer to such assaults. But so-called hate crime legislation and gun control laws are not neutral measures - they have a class bias. Not only do they have nothing to do with advancing the interests of our class, but they will sooner or later be used by the ruling employer class against workers and farmers, especially those who fight against the bosses' attacks on our living standards and rights.
The ruling class and its government try to take advantage of investigations into bombings and violent shootings - fanning emotions and stirring panic - in order to erode hard-won rights, from the presumption of innocence, to protection from illegal search and seizure, to freedom of association without infiltration by police informers and agent provocateurs. They use instances such as the racist shootings in Illinois and the killing of 15 people at a Colorado high school in April to attempt to justify longer jail terms, the death penalty, and other efforts to keep our class in check.

In face of rightist violence, working people should not turn to the employers' government to limit access to firearms. The mandatory "background checks" for criminal records -pushed especially by liberal politicians - give the cops and courts greater powers to pry into workers' affairs. For many workers, a criminal record can include arrests and jail terms for strike- related and class-struggle fights, such as the locked-out Kaiser Aluminum worker in Heath, Ohio, who was recently roughed up and arrested by cops while doing picket duty.

The political polarization reflected in violent attacks by ultrarightists is bred by capitalism in decay. The lynching of James Byrd Jr. in Texas last year; the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who provided abortion services in New York; and the racist shooting spree in Illinois were actions by right-wing elements who one day will be used by the capitalist bosses against strikers on picket lines and other working people as the capitalist crisis deepens, and working people begin to engage in battles to defend our living standards and our unions.

Armed attacks on working people - by rightists or cops - cannot be halted through pacifist means, much less by disarming workers and farmers. They will have to be defeated by collective working-class action in self-defense.

The working-class vanguard that is beginning to emerge in struggle cannot today defeat the incipient fascist and other ultrarightist forces bred by capitalism under current conditions. The Pathfinder book Capitalism's World Disorder by Jack Barnes explains, "The workers movement will begin to deal devastating blows to the fascists only as experience is gained in real class combat, as picket squads are transformed into defense organizations, as we take the moral high ground in defense of all workers' rights, and as a mass communist party is forged in revolutionary struggle."

Such battles are coming, and the working class will have its chance. Working people should oppose every attempt by the capitalist government to restrict democratic rights -including the constitutional right to bear arms.

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