Written By : Carl Golden
Coming to the realization that insisting automatic weapons with high capacity magazines be available for sporting use wasn’t gaining much traction among the general public, gun rights advocates have shifted their rationale to argue that private ownership of such weapons is necessary to protect against a tyrannical government, either our own or from somewhere else in the world.
They interpret the Constitution’s Second Amendment reference to a “well-regulated militia” as proof that the original intent of the nation’s founders was to assure an armed populace ready and willing to take up weapons in defense of the country.
But, in the 21st Century world of government’s stockpile of sophisticated weaponry of unimaginable power — not to mention unmanned aircraft capable of delivering widespread destruction — how compelling is an argument that a homeowner standing in his doorway holding an automatic rifle is a match for the overwhelming forces of official tyranny, no matter the source?
Is it any more compelling, for instance, than claiming that shredding a deer with a few dozen slugs from an automatic weapon is a personal right deserving of constitutional protection?
Besides, we have a standing military with responsibility for keeping the country safe from invasion. Taxpayers shell out some $600 billion a year for it and, given history, it’s been pretty successful in turning back external threats from nations which have sought to impose their will or control on the United States.
Today, a 22-year-old in uniform sitting before a computer console in an underground bunker in Nebraska can, with the touch of a button, unleash profound devastation on an enemy half a world away.
As for tyranny from within, our 237-year history reveals no effort to do so. We live in a society where governmental change comes about through peaceful means — voting, the judicial system, citizen protest and petitions, for instance. The necessity to arm private individuals to stave off the actions of a government gone rogue is an argument without historical basis.
Warning darkly of government agents kicking in doors in the middle of the night and carting off innocent, law-abiding citizens never to be seen again is not only a diversion from the issue at hand, but is a likelihood that the overwhelming majority of people in this country reject entirely.
If accounts coming from Washington, D. C. are accurate, legislation to prohibit the manufacture and sale of certain classes and types of automatic weapons will not become law. The system is designed to work that way: Elected representatives of the people debate, consider and vote on public policy issues, the very qualities which for 237 years have blocked the kind of tyrannical acts that guns rights advocates warn of.
Gun right groups would do better to throw their support behind proposals for universal background checks for those who purchase a firearm, for stricter enforcement of existing laws on so-called “straw buyers,” for greater scrutiny of our system of caring for mentally ill persons to prevent their access to weapons, for determining if any links exist between simulated violence in films or video games and real-life violence.
And, yes, even for considering limiting the ammunition capacity of automatic weapons.
The alternating incendiary and condescending rhetoric from National Rifle Association executive director Wayne LaPierre doesn’t help or advance the advocates’ cause, either.
Gun advocates only invite criticism and derision when they continue to insist that hunting with an automatic rifle is a sport and or that brigades of black-clad government storm troopers are in secret training eagerly awaiting official word to launch their assault on their fellow citizens.
The advocates are in possession of legitimate and sound arguments for their positions. Blowing up deer or other game or taking potshots from a bedroom window to prevent an apocalypse from an invading force, however, aren’t among them.