Like everything in modern life, the word “tyrant” has been devalued and dumbed down to the point of meaninglessness. What we have is a government that some people don’t like — and fair enough, they may have good reason. It was ever thus: Abraham Lincoln was considered a tyrant, but he left words to describe what we really do have, however imperfectly, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Any American who needs an assault weapon for possibly making war on his supposedly dictatorial government is really contemplating another Civil War. Has the nation become so brain-dead that it has forgotten the horrors of brother fighting brother? At least the Civil War was about real issues, not the sour fruit of paranoia that makes some of today’s alleged patriots so dyspeptic.
If the Second Amendment was really about empowering the people to resist despotism, why doesn’t it allow everybody to have machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the better to succeed in their resistance? Because even the most right wing judges in the land are not that crazy.
Besides, the idea that the Founding Fathers were almost inviting armed insurrection with the Second Amendment does not square with the historical record. Not long after the Revolution, farmers in Western Pennsylvania rose up violently to oppose a tax on the whiskey they distilled from their grain (they wanted to become excited about something but the Steelers had yet to be invented).
The Whiskey Rebellion was put down in 1794 by an army sent by President George Washington, who rode at the head of it. From the earliest, the federal government made it clear that it wasn’t going to tolerate any nonsense from armed blowhards who thought freedom meant anarchy.
We should take the point. Gun extremists shouldn’t be allowed to justify possession of hugely powerful guns that can massacre a crowd of kids quickly and efficiently because those guns one day might need to be turned on the government to preserve freedom. At this point of our bloody history, this should not be a respectable idea. There is an old word that we should resurrect for this poisonous argument: treasonous.