Better parenting or better gun control?

BY: Scott Hiley| March 13, 2018
Better parenting or better gun control?
QI believe in 99% of what the CPUSA is all about. But I also believe in my right to practice marksmanship, peacefully, with whatever gun I so choose, which runs contrary to CPUSA's views on a so-called assault weapon ban. I also believe that the ONLY answer to stop mass shootings is for parents to properly do their job again. These mass shootings are a recent phenomenon. Does this view bar me from CPUSA membership? Let me know. -- Nathan L.
AHi Nathan,

I don't know whether your commitment to 'modern sporting rifles' disqualifies you from membership in the CPUSA.  That's a question for our membership committee, whom you can contact at  I will say that it puts you at odd with the progressive and democratic currents of our country, who have long advocated for treating guns like any of the other potentially dangerous items and substances that we regulate in the interest of public safety.

I want to take a look, though, at your claim that better parenting is the only solution to mass shootings.

In our view, capitalism has a toxic effect on families. Reforms like shortening the work day and the work week and providing a strong social safety net with abundant public services would strengthen working-class families and allow parents to spend more time with their children.  That would be a great achievement--but there's no guarantee that it would turn everyone into great and effective parents. Even if we could come up with scientific evidence for what 'good parenting' is, how could we make people do it without constant, intensive intrusion into private life?  I assume that people who oppose gun control would also oppose mandatory weekly visits from a social worker to make sure parenting is being done appropriately...

It's impossible to enforce, or even define, good parenting--and that's why the NRA and Republicans love the parenting excuse.  Blaming parents is a terrific deflection from having to take responsibility for something and figure out an answer (especially an answer that might impinge on the ability of businesses to make a profit).

They've been using that deflection for a long time. Teen pregnancy?  Don't worry about effective, science-based sex ed, just blame bad parenting! Poverty? We don't need welfare, we just need better parents! Substance abuse? Why bother with expanding access to medical care, when you could just demand that parents do their job?

Republicans don't care about preventing unwanted pregnancies, or alleviating poverty, or preventing substance abuse--any more than they care about mass shootings.  If they did, they would offer action rather than thoughts and prayers, and real solutions rather than the parenting excuse.

We're glad to hear that you share most of our views.  But the most basic part of being a communist is looking reality in the face, diagnosing the problems, and setting out a real strategy to fix them.  It's possible to disagree on what the limits of the Second Amendment are, or on what gun policy would be most beneficial to the working class, but blaming parents is a cop out rather than a solution.

Photo by Lorie Shaull, taken at a protest organized by Teens for Gun Reform.
    Scott Hiley has taught French, literature, history, and philosophy at the high school, college, and post-graduate levels.  A member of CPUSA since 2010, he is active in struggles against austerity and for education justice and labor rights. His articles have appeared in the People's World (US), the Morning Star (UK), and l'Humanité (France). He lives in a rural town in upstate NY.

Comments (13)

Winston | May 28, 2018 at 3:24 AM

Lenin writes about gun ownership and use.– “You will soon be grown up. You will be given a gun. Take it and learn the military art properly. The proletarians need this knowledge not to shoot your brothers, the workers of other countries, as is being done in the present war, and as the traitors to socialism are telling you to do. They need it to fight the bourgeoisie of their own country, to put an end to exploitation, poverty and war, and not by pious wishes, but by defeating and disarming the bourgeoisie.”

I am not sure that Scott Hiley is familiar with the dangers of being disarmed in a globalist corporatist police state. Lenin makes clear that arms may not be taken away from the Proletariat as long as class struggle is being waged against predatory capitalist regimes. Furthermore, adhering to American Ivy League politically correct ideology is not conducive to class struggle in the arena of ideas. Politically correct ideology is crippling and stymies membership growth due to its irrational and emotional-based limitations on speech.

    Scott Hiley | May 31, 2018 at 3:42 PM

    I’ve been disarmed in a global corporatist police state my whole life, Winston, but are you familiar with the futility of being armed in one? Commenting in 1895 on the destruction of the Paris Commune, Engels realized that the terrain of struggle had changed. Guns and barricades worked in Paris in 1848, but the urban planners of the Second Empire had razed whole neighborhoods in the 1860s to create streets wide enough to march an army down. Under those conditions, capital wanted to trap the working class into a street fight, just as it does today. The growth of capitalism–that is, capital accumulation and technological advancement–creates an ever-increasing disparity of resources between the working class and capitalist class. I don’t care how many or what kind of guns you have, you’re sill disarmed compared to the capitalist war machine. In 2018, the ragtag, underground armed resistance is a video game fantasy, not a strategy.

    As far as ‘political correctness’ goes, I’ve heard your argument many times before–that all our talk about fighting white supremacy and male supremacy is alienating straight, white men and distracting from class struggle. Frankly, though, we don’t place a high priority on recruiting people who think gun control is more dangerous than racism and sexism.

    The people we’re looking for are the ones who truly believe in the the old slogan of solidarity: “an injury to one, is an injury to all.” Racism, sexism, national chauvinism, homo- and transphobia, ableism: these forms of institutionalized oppression harm members of our class and weaken us all, as surely as union-busting and poverty wages do. If we’re not willing to stand up against them, can we really talk about solidarity? And without working-class solidarity, can we even think about revolution?

Oregonpapa | May 05, 2018 at 1:58 AM

Okay, I have a question: Most of what communists espouse goes against human nature. How do you propose instituting your programs without using force, or the implied use of force?

    Joe Sims | May 07, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    In our view, what’s called human nature is not fixed. It’s a combination of nature and nurture, genetics and society. We don’t agree with obviously with the devil-made-me-do-it notions of human character. Therefore if we change the material conditions, peoples attitudes will change. Attitudes in our country have changed. That will continue to happen. We see a new society developing in struggle around the main issues of the day and participating in the political process. With regard to the issue of force; we are opposed violence and seek a peaceful path. Consider that there are non-violent forms of force as well: e. g. a strike.

Debbie Dauntless | April 28, 2018 at 4:40 PM

Hi Nathan…

I have mixed feelings about this issue, so you’re not the only one who’s not necessarily on board with the official stance on resurrecting the AWB (assault weapons ban). For one thing, I’d want to know whether there is strong evidence that the previous AWB actually prevented any murders while it was in force. My impression is that it was feelgood legislation that didn’t amount to much, results-wise.

Drew P. Balz | March 19, 2018 at 10:46 PM

“without constant, intensive intrusion into private life”, isn’t communism meant to eradicate the belief of private property, and eliminate the thought of oneself, and instead to think of “We”, so therefore, there would be no private life, as long as it is bettering “Us”.

    Scott Hiley | March 20, 2018 at 9:34 PM

    You know what my absolute favorite thing is, as a communist? When people write in to tell me that what I write isn’t real communism, because it doesn’t match up to the lies they’ve heard about communism. Want to know what communists think? Ask us, rather than trying to tell us what we really believe.

      James Ferrier | March 23, 2018 at 11:07 AM

      You sir are a hypocrite. You just finished explaining that Republicans don’t care about mass shootings, unwanted pregnancy, etc. Can you back that up with references? Whom in the Republican party told you these things? As a communist, you welcome questions about your beliefs, but are obviously quick to condemn the idea of actually talking to a Republican. Communism, has killed more people during peace time than all the wars of the 20th century combined. Under the guise of Socialism, the Progressive moment, Feminism, etc Communism has no place in this world. Any reasonable man who knows communist history would regard it as pure evil. If you know the history of communist oppression, and are still communist, then you sir, are evil.

        Scott Hiley | March 23, 2018 at 9:30 PM

        My evidence is this: if they cared anything at all about those issues or about the people they impact, they do something to help instead of repeating the idiotic excuse about how we need better parenting.

        O. Haythorne | April 09, 2018 at 2:13 PM

        No-one said that the Republicans don’t care, but simply that they tend to give either band-aid solutions or change the question. Note the Republicans’ website, or Donald Trump’s speeches, where they clearly deny that guns are the problem. There is very clear evidence (Google it, it isn’t hard and there’s lots of evidence) that they (and the American culture surrounding them) ARE the problem and strong legislation works (see Scotland or Austrialia, or others).
        You also seem to have confused which bits of the Left wing are which. We’re not a homogenous whole, and that is possibly the biggest problem we face. Blaming “the Communists” for the slaughters committed by Authoritarians (with whom many Leftists disagree, maybe even a majority) is silly and fallacious, and in any case Capitalism – by wealth inequality almost alone, a distinctive feature of Capitalism – kills 36 million per year from hunger. That is the deaths from 100 years of (Authoritarian) Socialism in three years.

        Debbie Dauntless | April 28, 2018 at 4:04 PM

        @James Ferrier

        You said: “Communism… has killed more people during peacetime than all the wars of the 20th century combined”.

        That is baloney. Complete and utter baloney. There is NO evidence for this claim, which is not surprising, as it’s just not mathematically possible given the populations of the various countries and the large death tolls of the 20th century wars.

        So you believe something that is not only untrue, but clearly impossible per simple arithmetic. The question for you is *why* do you believe nonsense? Do you *have* to resort to nonsense to defend the status quo?

    Scott Hiley | March 20, 2018 at 9:39 PM

    We want to eliminate private property in the means of production–that is, ownership of property that can be used to make money from someone else’s work. We are working for a society based on collective control of the means of production, and collective, democratic decision-making. For us, collective freedom from exploitation goes hand in hand with individual freedom to develop as a human being. As Marx said, “we want a society where the free development of each, is the condition for the free development of all.”

    Scott Hiley | May 31, 2018 at 3:48 PM

    Yes… if by ‘communism’, you mean the the caricature of communism in right-wing and anti-Soviet propaganda. As far as I understand it communism is a society “where the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”–a world where who we are and what we can do is no longer determined by how successfully we compete with others. The only freedom it takes away is the freedom to make a profit from the labor of other people.

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