As members active on the member-only Slack are aware, the SRA has been busy with some internal changes. What started out as a small project with a handful of individuals who wanted a legal entity to educate and advocate for the working class’ right to firearms, has grown past anyone’s wildest hopes. This growth has lead to changes once thought only necessary years from now. Each month we have more members sign up than the last, and now there are hundreds of members across the country with dozens of chapters springing up in all stages, from developed chapters in Portland and North Georgia, to brand new chapters like Omaha and Louisville.
The armed left is a movement that has rapidly gained traction, and the niche the SRA filled has well received: while we don’t engage in protest actions like our comrades in Redneck Revolt or John Brown Gun Club, we have taken direct action in the form of hurricane relief efforts. These efforts have been widely praised and featured across the leftist community, and it only goes to show that while we will always maintain a focus on firearms and the right of the working class to defend itself, community defense is and must go beyond the rifle on the wall. Community defense is aiding one’s neighbors in a time of need, it is sending aid from across the country to affected communities. While organizations like the NRA lobby Congress to enrich gun manufacturers and themselves, hoarding millions and millions of dollars in personal salaries and benefits, the SRA will always ensure that extra funds will go towards the betterment of the working class and those in disenfranchised communities.
The SRA is at a turning point. On October 8th, 2018, the Socialist Rifle Association Inc was formed in Kansas, a not-for-profit corporation that qualifies under the 501(c)(4) provision of tax code and be recognized by the IRS as such. On October 16th, 2018, a merger agreement was unanimously agreed between the SRA Inc of Kansas and the existing SRA LLC of New Mexico. The not-for-profit corporation will replace the previous not-for-profit LLC. The officers of this organization are hard at work making the transition happen on the back-end, but day to day business will continue as usual.
For the membership, this doesn’t mean much of a change: existing members who purchased a membership through the LLC are now members of the 501(c)(4), with all the voting rights and privileges granted to members under the bylaws and the laws of Kansas. All new member sign-ups are automatically going to the 501(c)(4). The leadership of the new entity has formally expanded: while previously only three members of the Central Committee were legal owners of the LLC, now six members formally sit on the Central Committee, or the “board of directors” as the law puts it. This didn’t come at no cost: the identities of the Central Committee are now a matter of public record. It is because of this that not all members of and working with the Central Committee made the transition over, to preserve their privacy and the safety of their families. They will continue to work with the organization all the same and continue to provide their valuable skills and expertise behind the scenes to ensure this organization runs smoothly.
For the Central Committee, things have changed much more drastically. A 501(c)(4) is a very demanding tax classification, and requires many changes in how the leadership operates on the back-end. This ranges from simple matters like votes only being binding if they’re held in person or the phone, to more complex matters like handling the retention of donors when we begin accepting general purpose donations. It also means more formalized roles for the officers of the organization: we now have five officers as defined by the Bylaws, and yours truly was elected as the President of the organization by the Central Committee. This is why I’m writing this article, to the membership and to myself: while my role primarily consists of drafting resolutions and talking to other organizations, it also symbolically represents the direction the organization is going it.
I feel like my story is pertinent to the kind of organization the SRA is. I became involved in the community in late March, during a very turbulent portion of my life: I was repelled by what I was seeing in the greater world, and the events of Charlottesville were still in the back of my mind. I was by no means a perfect leftist, nor am I now, but I was looking for a way to organize in the space. I had never been much of a gun person, having only purchased my first firearm this very year, but I had the deeply held belief that the public must be armed for its self defense. It was while I was researching alternatives to the NRA that I came across the subreddit, and was put in touch with the initial crew of this organization. The legal entity had only been created a few weeks prior, and there were plenty of growing pains as it matured. Initially, my only interest was in building a Wichita chapter, wanting a leftist perspective on firearms in a deeply conservative and reactionary state. I began assisting the leadership, however, eventually starting a podcast for the SRA community, one that I still maintain. I began offering myself as a spokesperson, and by the end of summer, had found myself in the thick of day-to-day business of the organization.
I had no connections. I came into the leftist community essentially new, having been a Bernie Sanders supporter a few years prior but never delving deeper into the community as I grew in my political thought. I was given a chance to prove myself, I was vetted as I gained more responsibility, and now I’m here. That is how it ought to be in leftist circles: individuals who prove themselves capable should be given roles that they can excel in. So often in leftist organizations, out of legitimate fears of repression from the state or illegitimate desires for internal power, hopeful individuals are turned away from positions where they can do good. I was able to be accepted into the group, to offer praise and criticisms alike (even at times when my emotions got the better of me), but more than that, I was given the chance to fix the flaws I saw and to help contribute to the greater whole of the organization.
Going forward, as President and as a member of the Central Committee, I wish to see the organization maintain its current course: to become the leftist alternative to these reactionary, capitalist institutions like the NRA, to provide education to the working class in everything from firearms to first aid to agriculture, and to advocate in the halls of power the right of the working class to be perpetually and forever prepared to defend itself against aggression of any kind. We live in turbulent times, with reactionary militias forming to beat back and oppress our comrades who dare to speak out against the rise of fascism. The state only continues to support the accumulation of grotesque amounts of wealth by the select few. The media perpetuates a cycle of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to pad the bottom lines of the megacorps that own the outlets. The Democrats view victory as ensuring that the boards of directors of defense contractors are demographically balanced, rather than opposing the very system that enables those companies to exist.
The term of the Central Committee began with the articles of incorporation; Tuesday, October 8th, 2019, will be the day of the first elections by the membership of the Central Committee. It is the intent of the Central Committee to hold the first national convention in late summer of 2019, to draw the membership together in solidarity and discussion of the organization’s goals. These two events will be milestones in the organization, and will serve to see if this Central Committee is fit to continue to push the organization forward. I have no doubt in my mind, though, that we will overcome any obstacles in our path, and continue to serve our membership and the working class in our mission.