The Unequalizer

As we begin to talk about the president’s proposed gun regulations today, it’s very important to remember that one side in this “debate” doesn’t think it’s legitimate. To Second Amendment absolutists, no restrictions on firearms possession are ever constitutional. And that particularly applies to military weaponry because the whole idea of the Second Amendment is the right to undertake a violent revolution against the United States government when “patriots” deem it necessary or convenient.

Erick Erickson is the latest conservative to spell this out in a post last night that doesn’t much beat around the bush.

The 2nd Amendment, contrary to much of today’s conversation, has just as much to do with the people protecting themselves from tyranny as it does burglars. That is why there is so little common ground about assault rifles — even charitably ignoring the fact that there really is no such thing. If the 2nd Amendment is to protect the citizenry from even their own government, then the citizenry should be able to be armed.

Let’s be clear what this means. To “protect the citizenry from even their own government” may sound reasonable as an abstraction. But what it means is that Erick wants Americans to be able to keep an assault rifle at home in order someday to use it to shoot police officers dead if the laws they seek to enforce represent “tyranny.”

But who decides when a tyranny is present? The people with assault rifles in their closets, apparently. With a few easy clicks, I can find people publicly describing Obamacare, progressive taxes, and even Keynesian economics as “tyrannical.” “Tyranny” has become an extraordinarily common term on the Right for describing the Obama administration generally.

Maybe we aren’t quite to the point where a sufficiently large number of “patriots” have decided it’s time to start shooting cops in order to protect their property and their liberties. There is some risk of the cops shooting back, of course. But Second Amendment absolutists want to give notice it’s always a possibility if us “socialists” overreach–again, according to their somewhat eccentric standards. And it’s all part of an ideology that maintains that all the democratic majorities, legislative decisions and court decisions in the world cannot modify the unconditional and eternal rights “patriots” find in the Declaration of Independence, such as absolute property rights and the right of men to intervene in the reproductive decisions of women to defend zygotes.

In the Wild West, guns were often called “equalizers.” To many Second Amendment Absolutists, they are in effect “unequalizers,” the constant reminder that their rights are superior to yours, and that you may have votes but they have guns.

It is obviously impossible to have a rational discussion of gun regulation with people who think they may need to shoot you at some point to defend such fundamental liberties as their right not to subsidize health insurance for “takers” and “looters.” But it is important to remind them and everyone else now and then that their eminently respectable-sounding ideology is based on blood and fire and the implicit threat of violence.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.