I'm not prepared to get rid of our right to keep and bear arms unless we do get rid of the Second Amendment. But, doing that requires tinkering with the Constitution, which makes me nervous. Once you open the hood, you never know what else someone will fuck with. With the state of our idiocracy, opening the Constitution is just as likely to wind up creating a right to keep and bear rape monkeys as it is to have its intended effect.
So it is what it is. We have the Second Amendment, and while we can debate all we want about how we should interpret it, DC v. Heller pretty much did that for us. It is an individual right, and anyone who suggests that we might even ponder a dissenting view is not very likely to make it through Senate confirmation hearings.
So here we are.
Fallacy Killer Number One – George Washington Did Not Say That
Lets talk about one justification for our right to keep and bear arms — the notion that we need the Second Amendment so that we can resist "tyranny." This George Washington quote sprouts up like mushrooms on cow shit every time there is a mass shooting – to remind us that even though a dozen kids just died, it is worth it, because one day we will want those guns – like the day that Obama comes to herd us into concentration camps where we will be forced to have free health care, or education, or Koran lessons, or whatever the fear-du-jour happens to be.
"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." -George Washington
Well guess what?
He never said that.
Here is what he actually said:
"A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies."
Pretty big difference by shifting a few words around.
Fallacy Killer Number Two – The Second Amendment Will Preserve Our Right to Revolt
Just because Washington didn't say that, it doesn't mean that there is no "right to revolution" theory to be found in the Second Amendment. After all, Jefferson did say "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
In 1776, when the height of military technology was a musket and a cannon, both of which you could make by melting down church bells, there might have been something to it. When the contest was little more than numbers of guns you could drag through the woods, and how to play the weather, the government probably did need to worry a bit about insurrection – and that might have kept them a bit more honest.
However, the first time someone tried that kind of thing, it didn't work out so well. In fact, Shays' Rebellion just led to Constitutional tweaks to make the federal government that much stronger. The Civil War led to even more, with harsher consequences.
If 13 states, with the assistance of at least one superpower, didn't manage to get their way through armed insurrection, what the hell makes anyone think that armed insurgency is going to preserve our right to … whatever … not have affordable health care, or to coffee cups that say "Happy Birthday Jesus" on them?
Ok, fine… lets come up with a cause worth fighting for. Lets say that Obama refuses to step down in 2016, and he not only declares himself dictator-for-life, but he also starts dressing like Ghadaffi, decrees that the national religion shall be Islam, the national language will be Klingon, there will be an efficient rail network in the United States, the writ of Prima Noctae is now in effect, and there shall be martial law to enforce all of the above, as well as any other laws that the President invents, on a daily basis.
We managed to preserve our right to keep military grade rifles and machine guns, so we all muster down on the Town Common with our guns. We tried voting. We tried protesting. This is a reasonable time to start with the armed insurrection stuff.
So, you, me, all our neighbors, hell our entire city builds a perimeter around it. We fill sandbags, we all have ammunition, we all have food, water, supplies, and most importantly, we are all unified and in complete solidarity.
And we stand there, resisting whatever it is the government was going to do to us.
And then they fly over with one jet, dropping one FAE bomb, and roll in with three tanks, and in about 12 hours, our "resistance" is reduced to a few smoking holes. The Tree of Liberty will get its manure all right, but it will be the manure that you shat out as you ran for cover, as long range artillery rains down on our town, as we get carpet bombed from 35,000 feet, and as the sky goes black with drones and cruise missiles.
So… if the 2nd Amendment's "right to revolution" implication is real, both practically and legally, it must also include a right to possess tanks, jets, rocket launchers, etc. Your puny AK-47 is useless. So, we need to have at least some of our volunteer resistance show up with Stinger missiles, some anti-aircraft batteries, maybe a submarine or two?
Oh, you can't afford that?
That's ok, we have some patriotic citizens who can.
Who? The same billionaires who already own the government, that's who. So what do they want to "resist?" I could only see them wanting to resist checks on their own power. So, if the Second Amendment implies a right to resist the government, then that would mean that we need our billionaire friends to start stockpiling these weapons now. We need a Koch brothers airfield with a few fighters and bombers, and Adelson should have a fleet of tanks somewhere, and I guess that George Soros would bring his collection of nuke-armed submarines up to date, right?
So lets drop the crazy scenario of Obama-cum-Ghadaffi, and just think about something we were really likely to see upset us. Do you think for a moment that you, living in some apartment in Salt Lake City, or a house in Wyoming, or a condo in Boca Raton, would be ready to go to war with the Federal Government over the same shit that would get the Koch Brothers to fuel up their private stock of A10 Warthogs? Really?
Because you know what the billionaires want the government to stop doing? They want it to get out of the way of their becoming trillionaires. If you think that the Second Amendment means what the Supreme Court said in Heller, and you believe that is a good thing, because it gives you the ability to resist the government, you might want to play out the long game in your head. The long game here is this interpretation leads to private armies, raised by limitless wealth, all of which looks at our quaint little republican form of government as nothing more than a paper justification to have a flag waving over a few national parks.
I don't particularly love the federal government either, but ultimately, it is the only organization that we have where we can even hope to band together with enough authority to avoid being under the rule of the richest local family. Yeah, in large part, we're there already. Citizens United made sure of that. But, at least we still have some veneer of a republic.
So the next time you see some fool cheering the Second Amendment as the text that protects us from tyranny, ask them to play all four quarters of the mental game. It isn't romantic pictures of regular guys crossing the Delaware in rowboats. The endgame is Ancient Rome meets The Terminator.
[Update] – A few comments suggest that our modern military has not really been that effective against insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. I concede that point. But, I did not think I needed to waste a paragraph in the original discussing how I hardly think that Americans would be prepared to hide in the woods and caves, en masse, to support an American insurgency. Not a chance. When our intelligentsia is crying for "safe spaces," our would-be "Wolverines" scream to give up every civil liberty except the Second Amendment, who are we going to have lead this "insurgency?" Maybe the Crips and the Bloods. That ought to work out well. Sorry, but anyone you might want to be in power doesn't have the yarbles to do it, and those with the great bolshy yarblockos are not exactly going to set up a rebel government on the principles of Oliver Wendell Holmes.