18 December 2012

Protection from an Oppressive Government

It takes little time before defenders of the 2nd amendment argue that they need arms to defend themselves from an oppressive government.  Our founding fathers, obviously, had to take up arms against the British. There are at least two points worth making about this. One, the revolution was an effort of a people, not a person. It was a well-regulated militia, not an unregulated, lone assassin who fought the British. Two, there was no mechanism for Americans to vote for the right to vote; overthrowing a distant empire is very different than taking up arms against your neighbors because you are unhappy with the most recent election.

There are more problems with the argument than this, of course. Obviously the definition of oppressive is left to the one with the arms. A man abusing his wife and children would of course find a policeman intervening on their behalf oppressive. So obviously he'd need to be equipped at least as well as the National Guard, much less the social worker or police who might show up at his door.

Besides, the US is a nuclear power. If one is intent on being armed well enough to resist this government, there would be dozens of Irans within our borders, groups intent on acquiring the technology to resist the greatest military power known to history. It's hard to imagine stronger refutation of an argument than realization that following its logic takes one to conditions ripe for a Mayan apocalypse.

We already regulate arms. We don't let individuals have sufficient firepower to threaten the Pentagon. There's no reason to let individuals have firepower enough to hold off a local SWAT team. 

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