Monthly Archives: August 2013

On Overthrowing the (American) Government

This is a quick one so that I can try and get back into the swing of blogging again.

There’s this recurring theme among gun-ownership advocates in the US that the reason the second amendment to keep and bear arms is necessary is because the writers of the Bill of Rights had just fought a war against a government they saw as infringing on their rights, and they wanted to make sure that if the People ever needed to overthrow the government again that they would have the power to do so. Namely, that the government would not be able to take away their guns.

In an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, they summarize the argument:

Now, ignoring the fact that the US spends HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of dollars per year on its military, and that a handful of folks with rifles are not about to overthrow anything, let alone a nation that could blow them up with the press of a button. And ignoring the fact that apparently there’s no problem regulating certain types of arms (no second amendment defender I’ve seen has advocated for private citizens to be able to own nukes). And ignoring the fact that toppling a government these days would be more likely to involve the actions of Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, who (as far as I’ve seen) are not being hailed as heroes by the exact people who want the freedom to topple the government.

Ignoring everything else:

If the People ever needed to overthrow the government, do they really think that doing so would be legal in the first place? Like seriously, you need the freedom to own guns just in case but if you were in open rebellion against the government I can’t even imagine how many laws you’re already breaking. You couldn’t just add “owning a prohibited firearm” to that list?

With all the gun violence we keep seeing over and over, I think there needs to be a serious question about what Americans value more: their freedom to own an assault  or sniper rifle (including one that aims at your targets for you) or the freedom to not have your kid get shot simply because he’s out walking the streets at night.

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