A declaration of gun independence

In my annual (at least) reading of the Declaration of Independence, I have been thinking a lot about this section:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

There’s a movement of people in the United States that seem to think the law, the government is SO oppressive that it does not apply to them. Notably of late, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federal lands for the last twenty years while refusing to pay grazing fees, because he doesn’t recognize the federal government. “The feds ordered Bundy to pay the fees he owed, ordered him to get his cattle off publicly-owned property, and let him know when they would be coming to enforce these orders in person…. Between the end of March and April 10th, Bundy supporters whipped each other into a frenzy on social media, grabbed their AR-15s and AK-47s, and swooped down on the Bundy ranch to defend their newest freeloading patriot hero from the federal usurpers of the Bureau of Land Management.”

It appeared that at least some of the Bundy supporters were looking for the federal government to shoot, so they could shoot back and claim it was another Ruby Ridge, or Waco. Instead, the feds walked away. FOX News embraced Bundy’s criminal activity, Because Freedom, until Bundy’s racist rants, and I’m STILL at a loss to understand their justification. Then again, I may be looking for the rational when it is not to be found.

I would not be surprised if some of the Bundy supporters were part of the Sovereign Citizens Movement, people who “believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.”


Also, you have your folks who believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution means that one has the right to terrorize others by carrying their large weapons around with them. In a climate of regular school shootings – though some of them apparently don’t count – this seems ill-advised. Even the National Rifle Association said this behavior was “downright weird”, until the backlash forced them to retreat from that position.

The cartoon How to Tell the Difference Between an Open-Carry Patriot and a Deranged Killer was so good I reposted it on Facebook, to great response. If you were someone with mayhem on your mind, wouldn’t you shoot the Open Carry people first?

The spokesman for NRA, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, (in)famously said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” This was in response to the Newtown, CT tragedy, when 20 children and six adults died in December 2012.

But a recent article in Gawker put factors about the use of even a concealed gun succinctly: It’s Really Hard to Be a Good Guy With a Gun. The guy who tried to stop Jerad Miller, one of the murderers of two Las Vegas police officers was instead killed himself by that murderer’s wife, Amanda. The Millers’ actions were fueled anti-government rage.

One of the Gawker commenters added:

What are the chances of [a] situation being one in which you can safely draw your weapon (as defined by a decreased likelihood of hitting an uninvolved civilian, or drawing attention to the uninvolved civilians around you while drawing your gun, or mistaking another “good guy with a gun” for the perpetrator, or being mistaken by the cops as perpetrator)?

The Las Vegas murderers, not incidentally, were supporters of rancher Bundy.

I certainly have my issues with the government overreach – and that is probably its own post – but the behaviors described here, couched in patriotic language, make me feel most unsettled, and not particularly free.

Here’s a great response, though: Texas musicians are planning to answer… Open Carry Texas… These music lovers plan to exercise their right to openly carry guitars on July 4th.

6 thoughts on “A declaration of gun independence”

  1. Yep, and now we have people like Bobby Jindal—who always follows his party’s rightwing, never leads it—declaring that an armed rebellion by rightwing “Christians” is in the offing. It just keeps getting better, eh?

    I’d be quite keen to see a post about government overreach. We hear that all the time from the right—the far, FAR right in particular—but I can’t recall every seeing anyone from our side of the Great Divide talking about it.


    1. Actually, I HAVE seen articles about government overreach, notably the police overreach in certain cities. And the NSA, of course.


  2. I hate guns, I hate the religious nature of the fetish so many in our country have for them, I hate…well, I just hate guns. And I tire more and more of all the goons who watch a few episodes of 24 and assume that if THEY were in a crowded place and someone started shooting, they’d be the Jack Bauer hero of the moment, whipping out their pistol and putting the shooter down with but a single pull of the trigger.

    From what I’ve read, we’ve already lived through eras when every moron in town walked around with a gun, and I, for one, have no desire to live in the 21st-century equivalent of some wild west town.


  3. I am something of a gun guy — learned to shoot in my teens, NRA member for several years — but I have no particular desire to fetishize the gun: it’s a tool with a specific purpose, and I would no more pound my chest and boast of my [name of weapon redacted] than I would brag on my hedge trimmer.

    As Heinlein said, “An armed society is a polite society.” This assumes, however, that the members of that society understand what is expected of them in terms of politeness. (Homer Simpson, faced with a three-day wait for a background check to be completed: “But I’m mad now!”) Most of the gunners I know are sterling folks. But there are some genuinely sick people out there just waiting for the moment to assassinate their imagined demons, and the blatherskites on television just encourage them.

    Roger is quite right about police overreach, a lot of which is inflicted on minority communities on the basis of mere suspicion.


  4. Yeah, the gun thing will never really be clear to me. I’m not particularly a fan, though we’ve had self-protection handguns in our home for as long as I can remember. (Honestly, I have so little faith in my skill with the things that I’d probably not even attempt to use it except in the most dire of circumstances, lest I become one of those poor statistics of a homeowner done in by their own weapon.) However, fan or not, I do believe people have a right to protect themselves in their home. I do not, however, believe people have a need for anything more severe than handguns or hunting rifles, so I think we ought to find a way to cut back on the “right” to own “assault” rifles and such. And open carry? Why? That’s really all I want to know, is why?


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