Is gun control Orwellian?
Let’s ask Orwell
For those who believe, like the administration that Second Amendment enthusiasms are expressed solely by the black-helicopter-fearing Right, I offer a decided socialist.
George Orwell, who Christopher Hitchens once wrote, was “conservative about many things but not politics,” nevertheless would be more in tune today with the anti-gun control crowd than any fellow socialists.
The easy riposte to this claim from the Left would be that it is only natural that a former coolie-crushing colonial policeman such as Orwell would be a gun enthusiast.
But Orwell viewed gun control through a socialist and not any law-and-order lens:
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.
These sentiments were not based on any theory, but hard worn experience. As a soldier on the Loyalist side during the Spanish Civil War, Orwell was aware that it was only the citizenry breaking into the armory that initially repelled Franco’s fascist rebellion. When Stalin sought to import his murderous purge trials into Spain, and thus kill off any leftist opposition, his first order of business was confiscating their weapons. Having the misfortune of belonging to a Trotskyite militia, Orwell engaged in street fighting with these gun confiscators.
Aware of how Stalin crushed his weaponless opposition, Orwell was determined for this never to happen again. In 1940, when a Nazi invasion seemed all but imminent, Orwell joined a citizen’s militia, the Home Guard, which was deliberately modeled on the “people’s army” of Spain (many of the volunteers had fought for the Loyalists). This group was tasked with protecting bridges and railroads and if necessary, fighting from house to house, but Orwell saw a bigger role: that of ensuring that a home-grown fascist coup and/or separate peace would never happen. Predictably, Colonel Blimps worried about any sophisticated weaponry getting to these “reds” and sought to halt it (a better example of gun control cannot be imagined). But Orwell believed that the Home Guard should remain weaponized beyond the war so as to protect individual liberty.
For those government officials such as Joe Biden who assert that the populace doesn’t need sophisticated weaponry (i.e assault rifles) to protect themselves Orwell can again be consulted. In a post-war essay, “You and The Atom Bomb,” Orwell noted that when there is “no answer to it,” “rifles” are “inherently democratic weapons” and “gives claws to the weak;” complex weapons, however, when owned solely by the government “make the strong stronger.”
Today Orwell would be written off as a gun freak by the Democrat’s war room. Dianne Feinstein would lump him in with the NRA for his belief that citizens armed with assault weapons were necessary also in peacetime to ensure the government remained democratic. His extrapolation that the enslaved popularce of Nineteen Eighty-Four occurred because Big Brother had disarmed them would land him on the Democrat’s list of paranoids.
Ron Capshaw has appeared in National Review, The Weekly Standard and the Washington Times. He lives in Midlothian, VA.