Of 'tyrants' and the Second Amendment

People seem to think that the Second Amendment allows them to engage in antigovernment militancy. Talk about insanity.

Photo: The US Constitution

FLORIDA, January 14, 2013 — Ever since Sandy Hook revived gun control in our national discussion, gun-rights advocates have circled the wagons around the Second Amendment.

Some of them are suggesting some very troublesome things.

Many people believe that any firearm regulation at all violates their constitutional rights. If the Second Amendment is uniquely meant to be taken as absolute, then they’re entirely correct. (Why gun rights are absolute but speech and religion rights are not is an interesting question.) What raises eyebrows is the particular reason that many of these people wish to own guns in the first place.

They want the ability to fend off a government that they perceive as tyranical.

One man’s tyranny is another man’s notion of ideal liberty. This is not the point, though. The point is that there are people across the land who are preparing for armed resistance of some kind. And what exactly will signal that it’s time to start watering the tree of Liberty with blood?

A militia mentality has taken root in our society. Unchecked, it has the potential to bring down violence and chaos on our country.

Perhaps most who interpret the Second Amendment as permission to rise up and shoot the police or anyone else who threatens their liberty are engaged in an intellectual and rhetorical exercise. Perhaps they never would start shedding blood. At the end of the day, their heads would cool and peace would prevail.

In any case, it’s hard to imagine that semi-automatic AR-15s would be any match for fully automatic military arms combined with other military technology. Unless we decide that “arms” in the Second Amendment refers to any and all weapons, civilians will never have surface to air missiles in their arsenals, nor tanks nor landmines. Drones and tanks will quash any threat posed by neighborhood militias. In spitting contests with Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam always wins.

We should all be thankful for his stellar track record.

People talk violence from the comfort of their living rooms, in much the same ways as politicians in elegant conference rooms in Washington send young men and women to die in swamps and desert hell-holes. Violence in theory is much more satisfying than violence in fact, and boasts about what we would do if we had bin Laden or President Obama in our clutches is like imagining ourselves NFL quarterbacks and beauty queens.

But when we have the guns in our hands, we enter a highly dangerous grey area where fantasy and real life can collide. Real life will always win.

During the years ahead — perhaps after reasonable gun control policies have been signed into law — our country will find its way back to a point of harmonious centrism. With the firearm regulation debate behind us, we should then be able to focus on the key issues facing America’s future.

Naive as it may sound, I do believe that the day will come in which our opinions regarding the Second Amendment are not among those key issues. What a benchmark that would be for civilization.

Such a wonderful dream deserves to become a reality.    

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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