When gun rights advocates say that the Second Amendment is a necessary part of our freedoms, what I hear, when I hear them, is that it’s probably a good idea not to allow the government, any government, to have a monopoly on the power inherent in violence. They claim that this was the intention of the Founders. I kind of buy that line of argument, when it comes to the Founders. In the late 1700s, a populace armed with the latest in weapon technology — whatever that was (I’m picturing muskets that you have to load by hand, but who knows, I don’t) — was able to overthrow the British colonial government and establish a new government, “by and for the People,” etc., etc. Like anybody who just went through a divorce, they wanted to make sure that they kept all their options available, just in case this new government went the way of the old one. Whether or not you believe that the War for Independence was really a Revolution, or just an, um, War for Independence, that’s still a fairly attractive narrative.
I don’t think a bunch of guys with guns, well-regulated or not, would be able to do that today. Weapons technology has advanced far beyond the personal gun, and the government has kept up with — has driven — those advances. If we were going to try to keep true to the intention of the Founders, as described by gun control opponents, we’d have to make sure that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” included such things as — oh, I don’t know — nuclear missiles.
The Second Amendment doesn’t say that the people have the right to bear guns, after all. Guns are a subset of the much larger category of thing we have a right to keep and bear. We have the right to bear arms.
Now. Let’s think about assault rifles for a second. That’s one of the more powerful weapons you can get in the United States, legally, one of the ones that gun control advocates have a big problem with. Unlike a private citizen with a nuclear weapon, a private citizen with an assault rifle has next to zero chance of taking down the government. He has a tremendous chance of accidentally or on purpose killing other private citizens — his own family members in many cases, or himself — but zero chance of taking down the government.
Even when he (and really, is there any reason to use a gender-neutral pronoun here? I don’t think so) bands together with another dozen, or hundred, or thousand others with assault rifles, their chances of taking down the government would be nil. They could cause a lot of problems and pain. They could kill a lot of people. But they would never take down the government. The government of the United States won’t be taken down by assault rifles.
Any one person with a few nuclear missiles on hand, though, could take down any government, anywhere in the world, easy as pie.
Our path is clear. It seems to me that the Second Amendment is useless until each and every one of us is allowed to own a nuclear missile. It’s the only way to honor the intention of the Founders.