The Fantasy of the Patriot who Goes Down Shooting

With an armed population, a tyrannical government will think twice.

At least, that’s the logic many gun owners cling to – that their investment in weapons is somehow keeping the Federal Government from undermining civil liberties.  That one day, the government troops will come to deprive a patriot of his property and his rights, and the guns give him an option to defend himself on his own terms, or perhaps to go out in a blaze of glory.

An armed populace might give the British soldier of the late 18th Century pause – the redcoat who might show up to illegally quarter troops in a colonial home, armed with a flintlock pistol and sabre while his troops lean on muskets and such.  That guy might have concerns about the hunting rifle or shotgun mounted over the hearth.

But today’s Federal Government?  Mobilize an entire state’s worth of people with their family firearms.  Heck, give ‘em 50 cals and illegally modified AR-15s if you want.  Ain’t nobody imposing its will on the modern Federal Government that way, even if they march down the streets of Washington, D.C.

If push came to shove, what would the feds throw at an armed insurrection?  The remote control drones that can level mountains?  How about that cool machine that you aim at people and it instantly gives everyone in the crowd a case of explosive diarrhea?  Or that other machine that uses microwaves to inflict searing pain without actually damaging tissue?  Bombs?  Tanks?  Fighters that cost hundreds of millions of dollars apiece?  Take your pick from all of the cool stuff supplied to a military funded at levels that allow it to simultaneously fight two remote conflicts overseas and still win.  You’re talking about a military that has to offload armored vehicles to municipal police departments because it’s got way cooler shit and doesn’t want a surplus of gigantic IED-proof MRAP trucks sitting on its books.

That kind of military laughs at your pieced-together-from-parts-you-bought-on-the-Internet illegally-modified AR-15.  What kind of resistance do you think you’ll put up in the highly-unlikely scenario that the government decides to turn that kind of weaponry on its own citizens?

I can tell you who IS afraid of your little cache of arms, though.  Your fellow citizen.

And with good reason.  Your fellow citizen has taken note that while you’re not going to give the U.S. Armed Forces a run for its money, you do still have the power to murder a few dozen of your fellow Americans before someone with the firepower to stop you can respond.  Your fellow Americans understand that the power of the individual to violently end multiple lives has increased in modern times (a notion excellently highlighted by this video: while simultaneously being outpaced by the power of the military.

In practice, we’re not seeing governments being kept in check, but we are seeing body counts from mass shootings increase.  The “protecting against tyrannical governments” argument for unfettered access to firearms hasn’t been valid for a long time.  Yet, would-be armed patriots are still entertaining the fantasy of going out in a blaze of glory when the gummint shows up to deprive them of life and liberty.

Does that fantasy justify the absolutist stance many Americans take with regard to the Second Amendment?  When we're quick to accept non-absolutist thinking when it comes to other freedoms afforded us by the Bill of Rights?  (As an eloquent person put it earlier today, we recognize we can't falsely cry "Fire!" in a crowded theater, yet we steadfastly defend the right to allow people who would fire ON that theater to buy guns.) 

I own rifles and shotguns and use them responsibly for sport.  But I certainly don't think firearm ownership is keeping the government's mitts off my freedom.  I'm not interested in being in anybody's cowboy movie.  

Let's stop entertaining the fantasy and enact some sensible gun control laws.