What A Socialist Once Said About Gun Ownership


George Orwell ~ “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”
George Orwell ~ “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

Fayetteville, AR – -(AmmoLand.com)- The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has brought some genuine socialists into office, meaning that Bernie Sanders is no longer alone as a supporter of that political position on the congressional left. I see the assumption being made in social media—and in the comments section here—that a socialist must be someone who opposes the private ownership of firearms, a belief that is asserted as an article of faith among many of my fellow supporters of gun rights.

Except that there is a statement by George Orwell that will be immediately recognizable to anyone who has spent time in discussions about guns on-line: “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

Orwell is known to American middle and high school students as the author of Animal Farm and 1984. Computer people of my generation will remember his work as the source material for Ridley Scott’s Superbowl ad for Apple. But his entire career was a battle against totalitarianism on the right and the left, having fought on behalf of the Spanish republic and against both Franco’s fascists and communists supported by Stalin during that country’s civil war. And his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” takes a stand for clarity in language, as opposed to the mealy-mouthed dishonesty among politicians and the people who write about them.

With that in mind, I can hear him telling me never to accept an Internet meme without checking the source. And unlike the oft-quoted line from Sigmund Freud about a fear of weapons being a sign of immaturity that he in fact never wrote, Orwell did write that statement about keeping rifles in the hands of ordinary people.

His essay, “Don’t let Colonel Blimp ruin the Home Guard,” was a response to attempts at putting the British version of a militia, organized during fears of a German invasion, under stricter control of upper class toffs and reactionary imperialists. Orwell’s argument sounds like today’s discussions about the role of private gun ownership in a free society. He advocates for an armed population able to engage in hit-and-run attacks against an occupying enemy, suggesting that military discipline—particularly marching drills and submissiveness to one’s social superiors—is contrary to the purpose of a militia. And he makes the key point that armed citizens are a political force, a force that can say no to a tyrannical government. One of the reasons for gun control in Britain has been the worry that guns in the hands of the uppity many would make it difficult for the elite to stay in charge. The line about rifles on the walls of ordinary people’s homes is Orwell’s summation of his belief that armed citizens are a bulwark for the rights of everyone.

It’s always difficult to take someone from the past and try to insert that person into a current policy debate, but Orwell spoke directly to the concept of gun rights as a defense of democracy, both against external enemies and home-grown tyrants. And he’s an illustration of how support for private gun ownership isn’t necessarily limited to one wing of the political spectrum—or to the establishments of major parties.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

  • 42 thoughts on “What A Socialist Once Said About Gun Ownership

    1. I beg to differ. There is no totalitarianism on the right, only anarchy at the far right. All totalitarianism is a product of the left no matter how you label it.

      1. That is a very totalitarian statement, so you must not be from the right. The right is EXTREMELY totalitarian – They just hide it behind a cape of Christianity. Its called a theocracy, and it doesn’t get any more totalitarian than theocracy.

    2. Socialism, communism, fascism; If any of these take place in this country we will all be SLAVES to the ruling class, whomever they are. The ones pushing for it now will not be around to see the results of their rhetoric. They will be some of the casualties of the uprising. Because it will happen, so I just say, They should be careful of what they wish for!

      1. You have it exactly backward, unbridled capitalism and trickle down economics IS MAKING ALL AMERICANS SLAVES right now,

        and the right is FAR more fascist (check out how that goes hand in hand with “nationalism” – all great dictators start with that, Hitler, Trump, etc… Make questioning them a crime, eliminate all supervision/oversight of the ruler, etc… You should look up these terms before bandying them about).

        1. @TK, Hitler was not a capitalist or far Right. Hitler was a head of the National Socialist party. Your other great dictators (e.g. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ortega, and the Castro bro.s ) were not capitalists, trickle down economists, fascists, or nationalists. Each were true believer communists. You should read up on some history before twisting it all about.

    3. We’ve had elements of socialism since the very beginning of our country, even before that. People working together for the common good and common use. Currently anti gun sentiments are ensconced in the Democratic Party, but make no mistake, the people who fear an armed populace are those in power. I’ll keep my Social Security and my AR both, thank you very much.

      1. Socialism requires a very powerful government which will lead to tyranny even with the best intentions. No, the USA did not have Socialism since its start. Roads, military, etc are not Socialism. The founders were against the kind of power required for Socialism. Social inSecurity is a great example of government with too much power leading to tyranny and mismanagement. SS recipients receive more money than they paid. The difference is made up by taxing a, let’s cross our fingers, ever increasing work force and, worse yet, fake money conjured into existence by the Federal Reserve. I will never benefit from SS because it will either have collapsed or the dollar will be worthless by the time I retire, if I ever can. I will hold on to my ARs; they are more valuable than Monopoly money.

        1. Socialism require no more strong a government than any other. You are confusing ( as is usually the case) socialism and communism.

          Police, fire department, public roads, the military, coast guard, border patrol – ALL SOCIALISM (All contributing to the common good. IIRC that “the common good” phrase is even in our Constitution, but hwy pay attention to that old document?

    4. That is interesting to look into Orwell’s history. I have never bothered to look into it that close but I did enjoy reading 1984 and was somewhat mesmerized by his accurate description of where we are headed and how difficult life will be under the “big Brother”. It must be the insight he gained fighting communism that allowed him to predict where we are headed.

      1. Truer words were never spoken, I agree with your comment 100%
        All this time I have been saying socialist are just Communist in training !!

    5. What kind of stupidity is this?! “The article was right on about the rich, famous and elite not wanting the common man to own guns”?? Nobody cares about the common man owning the gun, which was legally obtained! All the talk is about assault weapons sold without an accurate background check. Get reasonable and please stop spreading lies.

      1. Troll. For those of you that DON’T want to have firearms, then don’t buy them. And as for Assault weapons, that’s a verb. My pillow I rest my head on, can be used to assault someone by having a pillow fight. Let’s ban pillows.

    6. The modern democrat party are THE domestic enemies our Founders warned us about. These filthy Liberal Terrorists™️ are irredeemable. There can be no reconciliation or redemption and there is only one remedy.

    7. The article was right on about the rich, famous and elite not wanting the common man to own guns. If they had their way, they would love to bring back slavery! And to raise taxes on middle class and poor to 70%.

      1. Is there any truth behind this?! “The article was right on about the rich, famous and elite not wanting the common man to own guns”?? Nobody cares about the common man owning the gun, which was legally obtained! All the talk is about assault weapons sold without an accurate background check. Get reasonable and please stop spreading lies.

        1. What all the talk is about, is only the tip of the iceberg of what the agenda is about. Important to stop letting them get you to dance in the parlor while they burglarize the bedroom.

    8. The article gives the impression that Franco was supported by Stalin’s Communists. In actuality, the Communists supported Franco’s adversaries.

      1. The German Nazis supported Franco, to overthrow the country and put it in the Axis camp…..late in the civil war the Russians/Stalin decided to counter the Germans, but to little to late, and Germany neutered Spain for WWII!

    9. George Orwell was anti-Soviet and anti-communist party due to his experiences fighting in Spain, but he was definitely a socialist and not a “centrist”.
      Why I Write” (1946): “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”

    10. Except that Orwell was no longer a socialist when he wrote those books, or made that quote. He may have still leaned a little to the left but by that point he was a committed centrist. ‘1984’ and, in particular, ‘Animal Farm’ were warnings against socialism.
      It was reading 1984 as a child and later Animal Farm as a young adult that cemented me squarely in the right-wing of the GOP. I knew of Orwell’s origins as a socialist, but also understood that he had repented of that ideology else he would not have written the novels that made him famous.

        1. Clark, you’re simplistic answer what denies the realit6 that Communism and Socialism are nothing more than different branch’s of t(e same poison tree.

        2. …and Socialism is the feed in to Communism. It creates the conditions for Communism to be accepted.

          Nice try, but, no cigar.

          1. Communism has no property rights. American Capitalism has property rights as long as you pay the lease to the government disguised as property tax. Don’t pay your tax and all you thought was yours will go back to the real owner which is the American government. You don’t own Shi$#@.

        3. “The Goal of Socialism is Communism” – Lenin

          “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of “liberalism,” they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform.” ― Norman Thomas

          “The difference between Democrats and Republicans is: Democrats have accepted some ideals of socialism cheerfully, while Republicans have accepted them reluctantly.” ― Norman Thomas

          Socialism, communism, fascism – call it what you want the end results are the same – totalitarianism; the super rich being overlords of the rest of us. It’s all in incremental steps,
          Whatever Orwell really thought, even in his novels, he was against totalitarianism in all its forms.

      1. I agree that this is a GREAT article.
        However, the Second Amendment does NOT give Americans’ the Right to own/have weapons.
        The Second Amendment RESTATES or REAFFIRMS that Americans ALREADY had this RIGHT BEFORE the Constitution with its first ten (10) Amendments already existed.
        With these words; shall not be INFRINGED; the Second Amendment is the MOST INFRINGED RIGHT among all of the RIGHTS listed in the Constitution.

        1. Great point! Self defense is a natural right. This self evident truth is the root of rights, not just the 1st and 2nd either.
          They are not a privledge “given” or taken at the whim of governments. The tyrrany and abuse of power of governments is not legitmacy. Rather the abuses of power show governments illegitimacy and are a sign of a government failing.

        2. So called (misnamed) assault weapons are not sold at any gun store without a background check! To state otherwise is factually incorrect! In addition, perhaps you should talk to a few expats from Venesuala about gun control! The goal of gun control is, and always has been the disarming of the common man! You are either terribly misinformed or puposely spreading falsehoods to advance an anti gun agenda.

        3. Laddyboy: You, sir, on right on the money. So happy someone made the point that our rights DO NOT extend from government! When we buy into the notion the government is the purveyor of rights we relinquish all power to that same government. Simply put: What the government bequeaths to the People the government can repossess at will.

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