Opening Shot

As you may have already heard, the National Rifle Association is making as its first high-profile contribution to the debate over gun regulations the argument that Barack Obama is an “elitist hypocrite” for accepting armed protection for his kids but not yours:

As Paul Waldman observes, this argument depends rather explicitly on fanning Obama-hatred, not to mention paranoia:

What an elitist, that Barack Obama, thinking he’s somehow above ordinary people, like he has some particularly critical job or something, and he and his family might be unique targets for violence requiring special protection! It’s almost like he thinks he’s the president!

This does actually reveal an important aspect of the NRA’s world view. As far as they’re concerned, all of us should act as though we exist in the same security situation as the president of the United States. You may think you’re just the assistant regional manager of a widget company, but in fact, a terrorist commando strike force could be coming to lay siege to your home at any moment. Which is why you need to be prepared not just with a gun, but with enough weaponry to hold your own in the two-hour firefight that’s just inevitable.

Paul omits, however, the implicit argument: you need all that weaponry to protect your rights–preeminently the right to all that weaponry–from the elitist hypocrite Barack Obama.

As commenter davidp noted after my earlier post on the “right of revolution” that undergirds Second Amendment Absolutism:

The gun rights argument is circular. It goes like this: We need guns so that we can resist the government when it becomes tyrannical. And when does the government become tyrannical? When it comes to take our guns away.

It’s an unassailable argument once you accept the radical premise.

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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.