Kudos to National Review‘s Kevin Williamson for coming right out and articulating the “conservative” (for once the quote marks are truly necessarily) perspective that is usually left just beneath the surface of the GOP’s and the gun lobby’s position on regulation of firearms:

The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity….

There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny.

If this isn’t clear enough, let me explain: Williamson is arguing that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is to enable Americans to stockpile weapons in case they decide it’s prudent to undertake the violent overthrow of the United States government. Sure, he puts it in term of an abstract and hypothetical “tyranny.” But we’re still talking about a very practical right of revolution: the right to shoot and kill police officers and members of the United States military if the gun-bearer chooses to believe they are enforcing “tyrannical” policies. This is particularly disconcerting at a time when a vast number of right-wing gabbers routinely refer to things like the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as examples of liberty-destroying state tyranny and as blatant violations of the U.S. Constitution imposed by anti-American conspirators.

Wonder if gun advocates would be so blithe about asserting this interpretation of the Second Amendment if it were being advanced by, say, black separatists or animal rights ultras or Native Americans demanding their land back? Guess that would be just another excuse to buy some more AK-47s, so “our side” can win in the ultimate firefight the Founders anticipated.

“Well-regulated” militias indeed!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.