UPDATE, Friday, January 18: Courtesy of Mother Jones, here are some of the most outlying outliers...or the craziest of the crazies, if you prefer. I rest my case.
*****************************************The official Obama Administration response to gun violence is due out about an hour from now as I write this (though of course its component parts have been heavily leaked). As we wait, I have a few thoughts on the evolving nature of the pro-gun rhetoric in recent days...which I find even more worrisome than the "we actually need more guns" reasoning that emerged as soon as it became permissible to widen the focus from the Sandy Hook tragedy and its victims. You will recall Wayne LaPierre's quotable line about how we need a "good guy with a gun" in order to stop a "bad guy with a gun." And maybe you'll recall my editorial rejoinder.
But now, with Obama vowing unilateral action via executive order, the argument has shifted to a Constitutional/patriotic defense of gun ownership—in particular the importance of widespread gun ownership as a disincentive to, and ultimate defense against, government tyranny.
First of all, we are a long, long way from the circumstances—the social context that applied—when the Founders voiced their (legitimate) concerns about tyranny. The Colonies were just years removed from being part of a Kingdom, and could not at that point predict with any certitude whether their grand American experiment was destined to last. They'd had to take up arms against the Brits—they'd mounted an honest-to-gosh Revolution, after all—and that was their frame of reference. Even so, did they envision their brand-new nation as remaining in a state of perpetual revolution, with ongoing policy decided by whomever could muster the most formidable militia? Clearly not. They envisioned a Constitutional republic that would run smoothly on its own, without further internecine bloodshed, now that it had been set free from the chains of monarchal rule, and a governmental template had been established. That at least is what they hoped.
Nonetheless, judging from the talk emanating from the Tea Party and certain pockets of secessionist discontent, one would think the Founders expected us to be standing by our front doors, guns slung over our shoulders, ever at the ready to challenge oppressive federal orthodoxy. Listen, for example, to talk-radio's Alex Jones as he warns Piers Morgan that "the Republic will rise again." And last night on Piers' "town-hall meeting" show on guns, an uber-melodramatic and aptly wild-coiffed female gun activist named Scotty invoked the specter of an out-of-control federal monolith laying waste to Constitution and—from the sound of it—driving tanks into quiet neighborhoods, presumably to order the masses to hard labor in Commie boot camps. (And is it me, or do these fears seem more intense and virulent since a black man took up residence in the Oval Office?) That, she said, is why we need to heed the wisdom of the Founders in these matters.
OK, even buying that logic, as a practical matter, who decides when tyranny is afoot? Am I entitled to grab my trusty .30-06 every time Congress passes legislation that I consider an impingement on my personal liberty? While we're falling all over ourselves to hail the wisdom of the almighty and infallible Founders, let's not forget that they saw fit to include the phrase "well-regulated militia" in their conferring of gun rights: In my mind's eye the phrase does not conjure visions of disparate, ad hoc revolutionaries/vigilantes springing up in rural hamlets, suddenly declaring that they're empowered to take up arms and overthrow the government.
And how would these closet revolutionaries even fight their war? Do they see themselves as American mujahideen, taking random sniper shots here and there before retreating each time to their hideouts in the shallow caves and modest hills surrounding Dollywood? Such talk seems especially silly when I hear it from the likes of the jump-suited, amply rouged and eyelashed dogwood-diva on last night's Piers Morgan show. Is she gonna grab her high-cap magazines, run and get this season's camis at Donna Karan, stopping also at Aeropostale to pick up a few stylish sets for the kids? (Photo: What the chic revolutionary is wearing this year.)
Please, people. Spare me the histrionic b.s. You folks are no more equipped to go up against Seal Team 6 or a tank battalion from Ft. Benning than you're equipped to go up against Barack Obama in an intellectual debate. And you know as well as I do that you have no friggin' intention of doing so. Ever. And by the way, if counter-tyranny is the big concern, then not only are assault rifles insufficient for the purpose, but we'll all need to own fully automatic weapons and RPGs. How else would we fend off those armored divisions that King Obama sends to town to subjugate us?
In fairness, though, I must say that I am not a fan of Obama trying to handle such matters via executive order. Something needs to be done, for sure. Something thoughtful, meaningful and appropriately nuanced. But unilateral White House actions are only bound to fan the fractious flames of partisan discontent, while playing right into the hands of those who argue that Obama conceives himself less as a president than as some kind of benign despot.