By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host
“That’ll never happen here,” is the response I hear whenever I discuss the potential of tyranny in America. To suggest that life in these United States could possibly deteriorate into something profoundly different from the America we currently live in is just not possible to most people.
I was talking to a gentleman who moved to the United States from Venezuela, recently. He was a business owner in the wealthy South American country. “We were the gem of South America,” he told me, “so when we voted in a socialist twenty years ago, and some people warned at what socialism could do to our country, we said to each other, ‘Not here. In other countries, maybe, but tyranny could never come to our modern society.'”
Today, Venezuela is among the poorest countries in the world, and suffering under the iron fist of tyranny.
I am sure there were those, before the succession of tyrannical Caesars in Rome, who said, “Tyranny can never come here. We are too sophisticated to allow tyranny to rise in our Republic.”
One wonders what they were saying in Greece before Alexander the Great, or in Germany before the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II or the rise of Adolph Hitler.
Anson Kaye, writing for U.S. News and World Report in an article January 24, 2013, Guns and the Tyranny of Extreme Rhetoric, wrote what I believe to be what most gun control advocates think. “The argument that assault rifles are necessary to protect against tyranny is a lunatic idea,” is the sub-headline. In the article Kaye calls the potential for tyranny in America an “invisible elephant” in the room that does not exist.
In the article Kaye provides information regarding a number of poll surveys, concluding that based on the right-leaning polls, and the left-leaning polls, conservatives believe guns are needed to fight off the coming tyranny, and most Americans don’t agree and want it to be harder for Americans to get guns.
The question of tyranny and guns finds its foundation in the annals of history. The first thing tyrants in history have done after assuming power is take weapons away from the populace. Once the British realized that the English Colonists in North America were getting a bit fussy about how they were being treated, they began taking away firearms. That is what Lexington and Concord was all about. The British aimed to raid the armory in Concord, Massachusetts, so as to largely disarm the colonists. However, the Americans met them in Lexington where “the shot heard ’round the world” was fired, and the American Revolution commenced.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution, and those involved in putting together the Bill of Rights, recognized that the people of any country possessed the right to alter or abolish their government should it become tyrannical (Declaration of Independence) and the only way to be able to accomplish such a deed, should it become necessary, was by force. The Second Amendment is clearly about making sure the populace is armed so as to be able to fight off tyranny should it rise through our own government.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
- 1: Well regulated Militia – A militia that is in good order.
- 2: Militia – George Mason said the militia “consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” Having a distrust of those who gain position and power, and realizing that often it is those people who become a part of the rising tyranny, he added, “But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but they may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people.” That said, the militia is essentially all who are willing to take up arms against tyranny, should it rise up in America. The rich and powerful, or at least a large portion of them, will probably be at the other end of the rifle.
- 3: Security of a free State – To keep the States free from invaders and foreign despots the federal government has a military in place. So, the security of a free State, in the language of the Second Amendment, is not necessary against foreign invaders. Then who, pray tell, was the Founding Fathers referring to? If you read the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, it explains that the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to add “declaratory and restrictive clauses” to the Constitution for the purpose of “prevent[ing] misconstruction or abuse of its [federal government’s] powers.” Therefore, what the Second Amendment is saying is that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed because it is necessary to secure the freedom of each of the States against the potential tyranny (misconstruction and abuse of powers) by the federal government.
In short, the whole purpose of the writing of the Second Amendment was to ensure the people were able to own, and carry, firearms without any laws infringing upon those rights in any way, due to the fact that it is possible that the federal government may become tyrannical someday in the future. Being armed not only provides the opportunity to alter or abolish that government should it become tyrannical, but the citizens being armed also staves off such tyranny. Or, as you often hear among conservative circles, “If the government is this bad while we are armed, imagine how bad it would become if they succeeded in disarming us.”
“Societies evolve,” said a liberal left Democrat to me recently. “I prefer to look forward than to look backward at some old document that is no longer relevant.”
- A. Liberty never goes out of style.
- B. Tyranny never changes its stripes.
- C. Socialism is actually an older idea than our relatively young Constitution. The concept of self-governance through a constitutional republic with checks and balances against tyranny is an idea that had never been tried before, and is barely older than 230 years. Socialism (collectivism, communalism, communatarianism, progressivism, utopianism) has been tried over and over and over throughout history, and it has failed every time, leaving in its wake starvation, misery and death. There is nothing progressive about progressivism. It is simply trying to use the same old round blocks, and trying to shove them into the same old square holes. It has never worked, and it can never work. It is a failed idea that is much more ancient than the principles of liberty found in the U.S. Constitution.
In Mr. Kaye’s article, he writes, “We know the difference between our government and that of other countries in the world, between Saddam Hussein and John Boehner. The former subjected Iraqis to years of death squads and oppression. That’s a tyrant. The latter’s subjected Americans to weepy incompetence. That’s irritating.”
I used that line on a friend of mine who votes Democrat. Then I asked, “what if, however, it went beyond irritating? What if a leader capable of oppression was voted into office?”
“Americans would never vote somebody that bad into office.”
“But, what if they did? Many of your brethren think that President Trump is one of those tyrants.”
“Yeah, but look how we’ve stopped him from being a tyrant.”
“You mean with a failed impeachment? You mean with an upcoming election that he looks sure to win, despite all of the voter fraud being committed by the Democrat Party?”
He paused a moment, then added, “Yeah, but we protest, and things like that.”
“Will the protests of unarmed people be very effective against someone who is truly a tyrant, and has all of the weapons as a result of gun control, should they get into office in America?”
It was like talking to a brick wall. “It’s just not possible in this country,” he said. “We are too sophisticated and modern to fall for that kind of third world insanity.”
So the answer is to lay down your arms, and allow yourself to be completely vulnerable to the possibility?
It is quite naive to believe that tyranny cannot rise in this country. I hope it doesn’t. I don’t expect tyranny to become a problem anytime soon. But, does that mean it is impossible? Is not what some of our government officials have been up to, especially during the coronavirus hysteria, something that we could classify as tyrannical? In California it is, during the lockdown, illegal to go to church, but the marijuana stores are open, so go ahead, you can still buy your pot. In my county persons are being threatened with fines for not wearing their face masks outside, and in San Diego County are being ticketed for being out of their homes for reasons other than to get food, or medical attention. Is that not tyrannical? Did we ever expect to see such a thing in America? If the tyrants in our country are capable of doing what they’ve been up to during the coronavirus scare, do we not think they are capable of worse if given the chance in other scenarios?
And how, if the tyrants rise up, do we expect to stop them? Through voting? Protests? Telling them not to with a stern voice?
None of that works if you don’t have some kind of power behind you to make sure they listen. We ran and hid from the coronavirus with shelter-in-place laws that will probably prove to make matters worse in the long run. Are we expected to use the same run-and-hide tactics with tyranny? Do we think that if we hide out in our homes long enough, the tyrants will just go away?
Tyranny understands only one language. Brute force. Either you use force to stop them, or they will use force to silence, and control, you. Gun control places us at a very dangerous disadvantage, should tyranny rise; and if our right to keep and bear arms continues to be infringed, and that infringement continues to worsen, the truth is, whether you think the elephant exists, or not, tyranny will come knocking on all of our doors.