I’m also not interested in creating a parallel cultural universe wherein balaclava-clad “gun bunnies” pose for the ’gram (I’d much rather shore up support for Rojava’s all-women YPG Women’s Defense Unit). I’m interested in reclaiming the notion of armed self-defense from those who have long used it as a cudgel to repress dissent and terrorize marginalized communities, and emphasizing its potential as a transformative tool toward collective liberation.

There is a long history of leftist gun ownership, and a concurrent theme of state repression against it. As author and anarchist scott crow notes, “our current gun control laws disproportionately hobble poor communities and communities of color.” As far as the state is concerned, black people were never meant to own guns at all; the Second Amendment was intended in part as a means of controlling the enslaved black population and suppressing possible uprisings.

That sentiment has proven to have quite a bit of staying power. In 1967, the Black Panthers staged an armed demonstration on the steps of the California state courthouse and launched an occupation in protest of the Mulford Act, which banned open carry in the state. Said law was written by a Republican Assembly member in response to the Panthers’ cop-watching “police patrols”; shortly after the protest, state legislators rushed to enact tougher gun control laws, with the full support of Republican President Ronald Reagan and the National Rifle Association.