Recently I wrote a piece about how incredibly stupid the “Criminals Don’t Follow Laws” anti-gun regulation argument is. Then I realized that there are some other standard whoppers that the pro-gun hoarding crowd is very enamored with need the same kind of attention. As luck would have it, not long after I was told via a comment thread that I should be thankful to the people who used their guns and stood up to their tyrannical government. The implication of course gets at one of the other big arguments those who oppose common sense gun regulations make.
We need our guns to protect us from a tyrannical government!
Let’s start first with what the Second Amendment is, in a historical context. I know that gun zealots have a very specific interpretation of the Second, but there never seems to be an acknowledgment of what the Founders’ world was like, and how that would have had an impact on the Second’s intent. Those responsible for the Declaration of Independence and revolution from Great Britain most assuredly lived under tyrannical rule. They were being treated as second-class citizens, taxed to the hilt both on the necessities of life and discretionary items. And all of that without any form of recourse or official representation back in the homeland.
They were being forced to quarter British soldiers, and they actually were subjected to actual attempts from their government to disarm them. The Second Amendment continually gets referred to as the safeguard against our own government’s tyranny, but in my view that’s not what the Amendment is meant for at all. The founders were starting a new country, a country of the people, by the people and for the people. They never had any intention of disarming the populace, instead the Second Amendment was a way to ensure that no occupying government would ever be able to subjugate Americans, quarter soldiers (which is also forbidden by the Constitution), and take away their guns.
The Bill of Rights, the most basic of our human rights promised by our Constitution is full of things that were written directly because of an occupying government, and not in response to our new government. The Framers were more concerned with the return of an occupying nation, and hence they made sure that every citizen in every state could become part of their state’s militia. In fact, that’s another element of the Second that gets overlooked. The Second Amendment was meant to be a means to resist forming a standing, national army. Even then, proponents of strong states’ rights over centralized Federal power were wary of a Federal Army. So they made sure that citizens could form well-regulated militias.
Am I saying the Bill of Rights, and specifically the Second Amendment, is outdated? Hell yes I am. Of course I am. That strong national army they were so worried about? We have it. And a Navy. And an Air Force, and a Marine Corps. We spend more on national defense of our borders — the true reason behind the Second — than the next dozen countries combined. Of course in an era where we had to borrow ships, soldiers and guns from from other countries it was vital to make sure some kind of defense against invasion was in place, but now that we’ve turned that on its head, the DOD budget has supplanted the need for a Second Amendment.
Mind, I’m not even arguing that we abolish the Second. But rather, we acknowledge that times have changed and we just tighten it up. Put in verbiage that makes it very clear what kinds of weapons we feel it’s acceptable for rational, law-abiding citizens to own. “But,” you say, “As soon as we let them start controlling our guns, they control us, and we live under tyranny.” Settle down, Sgt. Slaughter. Let’s just stop and think about this for a moment.
We live in a much, much different time than when the country was founded. Our armed forces are the closest thing you can get to invincible. They have goddamned flying death robots. They have missiles and bombs that we call “smart” because of how accurate and deadly they are. The most well-trained Doomsday Prepping militia outfit made up of former Navy SEALS or Green Berets couldn’t stand up to the full force of the United States Armed Forces.
Not that we’d have to worry about that.
Because even if a president were to attempt to subvert the Constitution, ignore the Heller decision and break Federal law, ordering all of our guns taken away — the Pentagon wouldn’t listen. He’d be relieved of his duties, impeached and likely sent to prison. Our soldiers, sailors and pilots aren’t robots. They are highly-trained, but they are also free-thinking Americans themselves. What kind of insult is it to their honor to assume they’d carry out Facisct dictates like so many Nazi soldiers? Sure, you never know what’s going to happen when a gun is pointed at your head, but if you can’t even have faith in your president to not become a dictator than what’s the point, really?
Which brings us to the real crux of the issue. Many of the same insane people telling us the Second Amendment is a safeguard against the tyranny of our own government, actually think we live under an oppressive dictatorship now. But I assure you that if you were to pluck up any gun zealot screaming and yelling about “Maobama” and drop them into an actual Communist country with an actual Communist dictator, they’d last all of five minutes before hopping the first flight out.
In the kinds of places where these people fantasize about going — Vietnam for an ironic instance — they don’t understand what their tax dollars and Constitutional freedoms actually get them. The level of comfort on this country is staggering compared to those still-developing nations. Sure, you could move to a country where it’s legal to own a fully-automatic weapon if you’d like, but then good luck getting the cops to help you in your gun battle with anyone else who owns that same machine gun.
The truth is no American today knows what living in real tyranny is. I mean you know, unless they’re a minority trying to vote in a swing state. Or if they’re a homosexual just trying to use the same fucking word for their long-term committed and loving relationship as everyone else. That’s tyranny of government. You see, it’s not that the American government isn’t capable of tyranny. It’s just that society has to help it along; pushing the tyranny into the realm of the subtle. You can see it in dog-whistle racist claims of welfare queens that keep the country distracted by social welfare while we spend twice as much on welfare for corporations. You can see it in the House Republicans spending millions on lawyers to defend DOMA, when the country is ready to move forward.
Yes, the American government can be at times very cruel and tyrannical. But not in any way that a grumpy, gun cuddling sycophant would think. Because even in its own forms of tyranny, we still live in America. There is still hope. Yes, homosexuals can’t marry, and that is indeed a tyrannical abuse of a minority group, but there is still so much freedom to be enjoyed here, and that freedom is what enables us to fight to end the real tyranny.
But you know, when I think of tyranny, I think of a depraved indifference to human life and happiness. I think of perhaps cynical, capitalistic motives that compel a lobbyist group to force our government that is supposed to represent us into not doing anything about gun regulation at all. I think of that lobbying group who is so protective of the profits of their corporate masters that they block scientific research and data collection. I think of a group that uses spree killings to elicit such feelings of false panic that a run on weapons and ammunition always follows the mass shootings, much to their delight. That’s tyranny. Forcing a population to abandon policies the overwhelming majority of Americans want, but can’t have thanks to the almighty Dollar.
God damn, America.