Enough with the Excuses, Part 5: Patriot Games

It’s fairly certain that the framers of the Constitution, James Madison most specifically in this case, did not intend the Second Amendment to refer to guns as a means of self-defense, as it began to be interpreted in the last several decades. But it’s also not entirely clear that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the citizenry from a corrupted Government. It may have traced back to something sounding a little like that in England, but that was more of a dispute between prevailing religions. And there are some indications the Second Amendment was simply put in place to appease white southerners and their “militias”, so the balance of the Bill of Rights could be ratified.

In any case, gun control opponents generally vehemently insist that citizens be able to arm themselves for protection from their Government. Perhaps at some point during the forming of that worldview, citizens really were afraid of their Government. But to paraphrase Yoda, that fear has led to hate. And just as Darth Sidious fictionally fed off that hate to destroy the Republic, and just as Adolf Hitler historically fed off that hate to empower Nazi Germany, so did our previous President feed off that hate to nearly topple American democracy. It is fitting that we are seeing hearings about January 6, 2021, just as we are in the middle of the newest legislative debate (weak though it may be) over gun control. The two are much more closely tied than one might initially think.

The kinds of egomaniacal narcissists that rise to power in the manner of Hitler and Trump learn to wield a fascinating but terrifying power – the ability to use a cult of personality to convince their subjects that they are the real good guys, and that every other part of the Government is corrupt. The folks that already hate their Government for whatever other reasons are easily drawn in, because this message confirms their existing biases. And then it happens: the notion of storming the Capitol in their minds becomes not an act of treason, but an act of patriotism. They equate themselves with the bold souls who broke free from the oppression of King George to form the new American republic. Once you start down that road, it becomes narrower and steeper the farther you go.

Ironically, while the one person who definitely did not want to stop the siege of the Capitol sat back and did nothing from the White House, the rest of the “oppressive” Government did not do what Second Amendment worshippers insist it would do – they did not open wide-spread fire on the rioters. Let’s be clear – if ordinary citizens can defend their homes with guns, then surely there would have been legal backing for law enforcement to fire at will with little to no discretion as a horde broke into the most important building to our democracy with intent to injure and/or kill. But law enforcement did not do that, a profound rebuttal of one of gun control opponents’ fundamental tenets.

We have come full circle. The biggest threats to our democracy are wannabe dictators combined with their willing and self-appointed patriots, not the bulk of the Government itself. To preserve our democracy, including the sacred Second Amendment, we must therefore have controls in place to ensure those “patriots” can’t amass sufficient arms to execute the coup they so dearly desire.

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