News About Leftists With Guns
As coronavirus continues to ravage human populations all over the world, who would have thought that we would still be living under its ghastly spectre a full year later, even as vaccines are continuing to ramp up and as "Trumpism" seems to have slunk back into the dark internet forums from which it sprang. Meanwhile, political pundits and media commentators declare that it is only a matter of time until we "return to normal", as if the past "normal" was an economic utopian dreamland that the working class is clamoring to get back to.
Well, things still aren't "normal". People are still dying in the U.S., a disproportionate amount in working poor and BIPOC communities . Vaccines, a triumph of private multinational pharmaceutical companies bankrolled with vast supplies of public funding, are still not being distributed equitably. Richer countries hoard them away from poorer countries, making a future pandemic catastrophe all but inevitable. This leaves millions of people open to infection from a virus that likes to mutate, setting us up for endless vaccine warfare against a foe that does not care about our "economic realities", throwing the individualist neoliberal credos of our society at us like shit thrown at our faces.
Through this, the Portland SRA has lived on. As white male mass shooters driven by violent right wing ideologies continue to plague the U.S. and the public trial of the murderous pig who killed George Floyd lays bare the racist prison-industrial complex for all to see, we continue our work with an added sense of urgency. The answer to vast inequality, violent right-wing ideologies, and the racist prison-industrial complex is building a multiracial socialist movement and dismantling the capitalist police-state.
The new rise of neoliberal democratic state power after the right's bungling response to coronavirus leaves many center-leftists thinking, "We did it! The bad orange man is gone, so we can all rest easy!" However, this is a false notion, Biden and his administration seems to think the answer to violent right-wing extremism is to increase the capitalist police-state. Never mind the mental health crisis, massive poverty, the long history of racism, and gutted social infrastructure that leaves people under educated, riddled with debt, and prone to acts of extreme desperation. Does anyone really think the ultimate answer to these problems is to pass gun control measures that have historically and disproportionately effected poor and minority groups, to take away the guns (assault-style rifles) that are used in less than 2% of all gun deaths per year , and to give the police more money?
In virtual meetings and online workspaces, we have been rebuilding, awaiting the time for when we can meet in person safely to further armed socialism, build community, and promote firearm safety as we did in the beforetime. We are hoping that time is soon and have been formulating ways of continuing limited capacity range days, but we will always put the health of our communities first and bow to best practices as informed by medical experts, even when government guidelines are loosened below them. We are forming a new Welcoming Committee to bring in all those who have been waiting for a year in provisional limbo into our ranks. Join us, as we build socialism for tomorrow as the anathema of right-wing violence and austere capitalist ideologies that have only intensified under post-"Trumpist" center-democratic party rule.
Power to the People.
SRA Firearm Safety (ACAB)
Content warning: Some of the topics this article will cover include the use of firearms, politics, mental health, and anecdotes of safety incidents resulting in harm or death from their mishandling.
It is important to remember that firearms are a tool intended to kill or destroy whatever is in front of the barrel. If you feel like this is something you are not comfortable doing, do not pick up a firearm , there is no judgment for excusing yourself from having to make that decision. There are plenty of other ways to help with community defense that do not involve firearms.
We also would like to remind anyone reading that despite how firearms are portrayed in our current culture, they are a tool and not an extension of one's personality. In the US, Firearms are commonly associated with folx who use it as a shortcut to toxic masculinity, as well as isolationist preppers and many other troubling subcultures. We would like to dispel these associations and ensure marginalized and working-class people have the means to ensure their own safety. There have been examples in the past of marginalized communities responsibly using firearms to protect themselves and their communities, and it with this history in mind that we present this information.
Why is safety important? As mentioned earlier, firearms are capable of causing deadly physical harm. We want to eliminate the possibility of negligent use to prevent any accidental injuries or death. This may scare some folx or make them apprehensive. This is a completely valid and understandable response. To others, much like learning to drive a car, firearms may seem exciting and cool. Rather than approaching firearms with this fear, or flippancy, we encourage an approach of respect for firearms and their lethality. That is why before every range day or shooting event, we require all attendees to recite the 4 cardinal rules of firearm safety. ACAB! Which stands, of course, for All Control Always Be.
(A) All weapons are to be treated as if they are loaded
(C) Control your muzzle at all times, never pointing it at anything you do not intend to kill or destroy
(A) Always keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire
(B) Be aware of your target and what lies beyond it
"All Control Always Be"
Let's go through these rules in more detail. First,
(A)ll weapons are to be treated as if they are loaded. The reason we emphasize this rule is that the most dangerous weapon is one you assume isn't loaded. It is very easy to make a mistake about the weapon's condition (The weapon's readiness to fire.) It is also important to remember that while you may be aware of your weapon's state, others may not be aware of that information, and may be understandably concerned if you fail to treat the gun as though it was loaded, for example by pointing the muzzle in their direction . Another behavior to avoid is that of looking down a barrel when your firearm misfires, at this point the weapon still has the possibility of a delayed fire. All of this is why it is important to not ever treat your firearm like a toy, especially in a live round training scenario.
Let's take a look at a few examples:
When maintaining a firearm, it is sometimes necessary to pull the trigger when not intending to shoot, for example to release the firing pin before disassembly. A comrade's father relates a story of cleaning one of his pistols after a day at the range; he had already performed several steps in the cleaning process and knew that he had unloaded it before beginning, therefore he was positive that it was unloaded, and did not perform a check immediately before "dry firing" (pulling the trigger on an empty chamber) for disassembly. This was a big mistake, as he had apparently loaded the pistol at some point without realizing it, and instead of a dry fire, he destroyed his wife's favorite Christmas ornament and put a hole in his wall. He is fortunate that no further damage occurred.
Here is another example: when one of our comrades was in the military they heard a story about a unit who was firing a Mk19 with dummy rounds (AKA Cheeto Puffs). The operator on the turret thought it would be funny to fire a round into one of his friends assuming it would only knock the wind out of him. The round was launched and hit the individual in the head and the force of the dummy round killed the individual immediately despite the individual wearing a Kevlar helmet. It is for reasons like this that we take firearm safety seriously.
(C)ontrol your muzzle at all times, never pointing it at anything you do not intend to kill or destroy. A way to help maintain awareness is to pretend your weapon has an active laser coming out of the barrel. The goal is to avoid "cutting" any other person with this laser. A common term for violating this rule is "muzzle sweep", because the muzzle of your firearm has "swept" over a person. When you're actively shooting at the range, it is important that you keep your muzzle pointed downrange (towards the intended targets.) Also important is that you remember to keep your weapons as close to and perpendicular to the firing line as possible without creating a safety risk. This is to prevent any possibility of firing at someone due to common mistakes like trigger jerk, shot anticipation, etc., by keeping all other shooters on the line and out of your "cone" of potential fire.
Remember, any time you are pointing the weapon at a person or object, you need to be able to accept that firearms are inherently destructive and lethal. This includes training environments, as it can be very easy to lose muzzle awareness while moving the weapon from a firing position to a transport position. To help reduce potential muzzle sweeping, it is best to transport the rifle at a 45 degree angle towards the floor and stay clear from your feet.
Time for another example: when our chapter went up to train on a popular shooting location, we were muzzle swept by folx whose safety standards were far more relaxed than our own. The individual doing the sweeping had their finger on the trigger and carried the weapon by pointing it behind them. Had a negligent round been discharged anyone out shooting that day could've been harmed. For reasons like this, we take firearm safety seriously.
(A)lways keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire. Practically speaking, this means is to get into the habit of keeping your finger along the frame of the weapon and outside of the trigger guard. This helps reduce the possibility of firing the weapon unintentionally, especially when trying to put the weapon away or traveling. A few things to keep in mind are involuntary actions like sneezing or startling (i.e. from another shooter's firearm going off when you weren't expecting it), which could lead to a negligent discharge if your finger was placed on the trigger.
Example time: A comrade's family-friend has had a bullet lodged in his ankle for decades because he failed to follow this rule. He holstered his revolver with his finger still in the trigger guard, forcing his finger against the trigger and discharging the weapon. He was lucky to not be injured more seriously (although he did have to walk back almost a mile to his house with a bullet in his leg) While not part of the four basic rules, an additional safety tip that could have prevented this is to always remove your holster from your body before holstering your gun.
(B)e aware of your target and what lies beyond it. Bullets travel at a very high velocity, and can penetrate many obstacles, and ricochet off of others. When firing at paper targets, for example, be aware that the bullet will certainly penetrate the target and continue traveling at a lethal velocity, for this reason you should ensure that there is something behind your target that will stop the bullet without ricochet, such as a berm or hillside. When choosing such an obstacle, beware of surfaces that could potentially cause a ricochet, such as rocks or standing water.
Now that we have covered the fundamentals here are some miscellaneous safety considerations that don't fall in line with these outlines. Be sure to use the right type of ammunition for the firearm you are using. Thoroughly read any manual included with your firearm. If your firearm did not come with a manual, for example if it was purchased used, it is likely possible to find a pdf of the manual online. It is important to regularly clean your firearm (especially after use) and store it in a place that will prevent any damage or easy access by children. It is equally important to store your ammunition in a place that wont cause damage; a cool, dry, and dark place is best.
WE KEEP US SAFE.
State of the Chapter during COVID-19
With the utter failure of America's capitalist system to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, it is perhaps unsurprising that we at the PDX SRA are seeing a large swell in folx looking to get involved with our local chapter.
As a chapter, we are attempting to balance the need to fulfill our core mission with the desire to not contribute to the pandemic, and as such, we are not currently holding any in-person events. The best way to begin getting involved at present is to join the national organization at https://socialistra.org/membership/. This will grant access to the national communications platform, on which we have a local channel.
We look forward to meeting new members and local comrades, at such time as the chapter has deemed it prudent and acceptable, by consensus, to resume having in-person events. The best way to stay informed about when and how this will happen is to follow the above process for gaining access to our social communications platform.
Portland Socialist Rifle Association