When are paranoid gun-owners going to take up arms against the government?

Several times in the past month, I’ve addressed here the notion among some Americans that the Second Amendment is intended mainly as a safeguard against an oppressive government.

It’s time, I think, to raise that issue again.

As you may have noticed, the breast-beating among certain firearms enthusiasts in this country has grown increasingly fierce since the start of the new year, especially as the political push for serious gun control has become more earnest.

On talk radio, in the comment threads on Internet Web sites and at almost every other turn, the boasts of self-styled protectors of the Second Amendment have become ever more militant.

I’m not talking about ordinary gun-owners or sportsmen or ladies with cute little pistols in their purses.  I’m talking about the beady-eyed, armed-to-the-teeth zealots who have claimed for  years that their personal arsenals are a hedge against a tyrannical government. Some of these guys have sounded almost hopeful in declaring themselves  latter-day Minutemen dedicated to warding off Barack Obama and his gun-grabbing, jackbooted government thugs.

All of this prompts me to cite an essay by Joel S. Hirschhorn that I posted HERE last month, before the passions of the paranoiacs became so heated:

In truth, the gun crowd that see themselves as the ultimate patriots, like the original revolutionaries that fought the British and created the USA, is itself conflicted by self-interests. That is, most gun owners are receiving so many economic benefits from the existing government and economy that they are unwilling to risk all of them by a massive disruption of the whole US system. Just like we saw incredible numbers of protesting Tea Party people looking old enough to be collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, the overwhelming majority of gun nuts are also feeding off of the national system they keep attacking. They keep buying more expensive guns and ammunition, gold and hordes of long-lasting survival foods to satisfy their paranoid thoughts. They keep giving money to right wing causes. They listen all the time to right wing radio and TV pundits. They have enough wealth to afford lots of things, especially expensive guns. Yet they do not ACT. They do not REVOLT. Even when their favored politicians lose.

Most of us do not equate the gun crowd with the plutocracy run by the richest Americans and corporate interests that aligns itself with Republicans and conservatives. The plutocrats, however, have no desire for a revolution that tears down the whole US political and economic system that they so benefit from. What the plutocracy has accomplished, against all logic, is to manipulate the gun crowd into supporting political causes that maintain the status quo that allows the upper rich to get richer. We have far more economic oppression than political oppression.

In other words, keep spending your discretionary money on guns and ammunition and all the other things so heavily marketed to the most paranoid people as evidenced by all the advertisements on right wing stations for gold and survival foods. Keep thinking that you need guns to combat criminals, except there is no evidence that crime has actually been curbed by the massive gun ownership rather than other factors.

But by all means keep listening and spending rather than actually REVOLT and bring down the system. Enjoy your guns. Just don’t take any risks and use them as defensive political tools. Don’t do what so many angry Europeans have always done; actually go the streets to bring down governments. Or what we see Egyptians doing. Of course, all those angry citizens do not have guns. Still, they put their lives on the line.

The bottom line is that the whole gun Second Amendment movement seems like just another aspect of conspicuous consumerism that keeps the US economy humming. When I see millions of these right wing gun enthusiasts give up their Social Security and Medicare benefits I will start to take them more seriously.


As to the roughly, at most, 100 million American gun owners, keep fighting more gun control laws. Keep buying even more guns, keep the multibillion dollar gun industry thriving. Keep screaming about your Second Amendment rights. Keep voting for Republicans. Keep listening to Limbaugh and Hannity and all the other idols that are among the richest Americans. Keep deluding yourselves that you are the only hope for the nation. Don’t face your hypocrisy. Delusion is the opiate of the right.


Another of our posts from last month argued that the theory that the Second Amendment is about allowing the citizenry to mount an insurrection against the government is exactly backwards. Rather, the amendment is about conscripting the citizenry to suppress insurrection.

Andrew Reinbach EXPLAINS:

If somebody brings up the first phrase–” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” they [the National Rifle Association, et al] insist the militia meant the people at large, and that the idea was to create a counterweight to the central government, so it wouldn’t dare infringe on the people’s rights.

I’m sorry to have to burst their bubble–well, not really–but the legislative history following the Second Amendment’s passage very clearly supports the opposite of what they say. In 1789, the militia was intended to substitute for a standing Army, and to defend the government from insurrection.

Congress passed two Militia Acts in 1792. The first created state militias, each under control of that state’s governor, specifically created to resist invasion, and suppress insurrection. The second directed all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 45 to belong to their state militia, own a gun and related equipment for that purpose, and report for duty twice a year. The law even laid out how many bullets each militia member had to bring with him–25 if he owned a musket, 20 if he owned a rifle. After the Civil War the Acts were modified to allow black militia members to belong. In 1903, the state militias were merged with the National Guard.

Aside from frontier fights with the Indian Nations, the militia was used only twice between 1792 and 1814: Once against the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pa. (led in person by George Washington); and then at Bladensburg, Md., to defend Washington DC against the British (the militia ran at the first volley and the day has been called the Bladensburg Races ever since). There was one use of a militia under the Articles of Confederation; in 1787, Shay’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts was put down by a private militia after Shay’s men attacked the Springfield armory.

There is no record of any legally-constituted militia “defending the people against a tyrannical government” under the Constitution–acts it would construe as treason, under Article 3, Section 3 (“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”) The only way to claim otherwise is to use the Civil War as an example. Even then, using state armies that way fit the Constitution’s definition of treason; it was simply expedient after the war to let the matter go.

Given that, anyone can see that the militia under the Constitution was an instrument of the state from the first, and never meant to safeguard the people from the state. What the NRA is doing is trying to confuse colonial militias–when there was no United States–with militias under the Constitution.

The record likewise makes clear that personal gun ownership was protected by the Second Amendment as a way to arm the militia. Of course, lots of people owned muskets or rifles then anyway. And in general, most people didn’t care. But a glance at the historical and legislative record explains why the Second Amendment has three clauses in one sentence and can’t be understood without considering all of it–screams from the right notwithstanding.


That popular misreading of the Second Amendment as a hedge against oppressive government is also addressed in this 10-minute video:





  1. Just out of curiosity, what percentage of gun owners in this country would fall into the category you are describing?

    The problem with the left is you want to characterize all gun owners as crazy zealots.

    That scares the crap out of most gun owners because they know they are no such thing. They have merely purchased a legal item with which to hunt, shoot for fun or with which to protect themselves.

    When the left starts talking about confiscating these legally purchased and expensive items they start to believe what the few zealots are saying.

    I am not a gun owner, but I might think the same thing.

    The left loves to paint with the broad brush, particularly when it can generate a gut level emotional response. After all it is only through a true or perceived crisis that the lefties feel they can get anything done.

    The rich are evil, conservatives are stupid, Republicans want to kill your grandma and poor children. Gun owners are militant and irresponsible.

    All the same old tired memes. All so predictable.

  2. doc: Learn how to read, will ya?

    I specifically stated in the post above that “I’m not talking about ordinary gun-owners or sportsmen.”

    But here you are, babbling away about leftists painting with a broad brush.

  3. I think expdoc’s point was that you ARE talking about a very small percentage of gun owners in this country. So why keep bringing those zealots up for discussion?

  4. Craig Knauss

    gawd, doc,

    Has it occurred to you that some gun owners are “left”? Not everyone who owns or uses a gun is a rightwinger. It’s just that most of us “leftists” don’t think marginally trained people, like teachers, should be carrying guns in schools. And most of us don’t believe we have to “pack heat” to go to the mall, to a school function, or to church. And it worries us that marginally trained people are doing so. And we don’t think we need an AR-15 with a 30 shot clip to hunt deer. (My brother in law, a Vietnam combat vet, used a musket and was successful.)

    As I stated a while back, I live in Washington state. It is against the law to carry concealed weapons into a bar. But in 11+ years out here I haven’t seen one single person checked for a weapon. It’s things like that that worry us “leftists”.

  5. Jared: I keep bringing up that “very small percentage of gun owners” for two reasons:

    1. It’s fun to mock them, especially since many of them consider themselves so tough and manly.

    2. Mocking them annoys right-wingers in general.

    So there.

  6. I read it, but you continue to post things like this. To what end?

    I might understand if you answered the question I posed at the beginning of my last comment.

    This post as well as the garbage that happened in NYC with a newspaper publishing the names and addresses of all licensed gun owners is making the situation worse, not better.

    A newspaper in New York has received a wave of criticism from its readers after publishing the names and addresses of all of the individuals with handgun or pistol permits in its coverage area.

    Hundreds of residents in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties were surprised to find their names and addresses listed on a map posted by The Journal News on Sunday. Users can click any dot on the map to see which of their neighbors has a permit for a gun.

    The map sparked more than 500 comments from readers within a day of its appearance on the website, many of them voicing outrage at the paper’s decision to make the information public.

    “This is CRAZY!! why in the world would you post every licensed gun owner information?? What do you hope to accomplish by doing this. This is the type of thing you do for sex offenders not law abiding gun owners. What next? should i hang a flag outside my house that says I own a gun? I am canceling my subscription with your paper today!!!” said commenter Curtis Maenza.

    “How about a map of the editorial staff and publishers of Gannett and Journal News with names and addresses of their families…,” wrote commenter George Thompson.

  7. Craig,

    Of course some gun owners are “left”.

    I am not talking about gun owners, I am talking about the left wing zealots who are so fixated on gun control they would characterize ALL gun owners as some sort of crazy, revolutionary band of marauders.

  8. Jared,

    Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Pat has any interest in findings solutions for any of the problems he addresses in his post.

    Now to be sure, he does at times have posts that discuss solutions from his left wing perspective, but his real pleasure and purpose of this blog is to mock, ridicule and deride anyone who dare to disagree with any of his ideas or ideals.

    As long as it drives clicks on the website and ad dollars for the RRStar and he gets to have a little bit of fun he will be happy. He is kind of like the Jerry Springer of hometown political blogging.

  9. Big Dave

    Wow, Pat can always find some loon to agree with.

    But I did like this loons stance on making everyone a solider like in Greece. Just think of how much money we could save in unemployment.

  10. I think Big Dave is embarrassed by the paranoid gun nuts, so he’s trying his best to lash out at me.

    Poor Dave!

  11. Craig Knauss


    Nowhere in your post did you say “left wing zealots”. In every case you simply said “the left”. You had them all lumped together just like you accuse Pat of doing. And FYI, some members of the right would like to see better gun control. And I’m sure plenty of the middle of the road would also.

    And keep in mind that the vast majority of “illegal” guns out there were legally owned at some point. They were lost, stolen, given away , improperly sold, etc. by less than responsible gun owners. If every gun owner kept their weapons properly secured, there’d be almost no gun crime. But they don’t and that’s why the “criminals” (and potential criminals) have them.

    Good news – I don’t think we’ve had a single “accidental” shooting out here in the last 24 hours.

  12. Luke Fredrickson

    Rockford police and Winnebago County prosecutors are pushing to have felons illegally possessing guns prosecuted under strict federal laws… a very good start.

    And you make a few great points Craig. Second amendment advocates insist their rights are taken too lightly, where I mostly see careless gun owners taking their responsibilities too lightly, with little fear of moral and legal consequences.

    Riddle me this: The DNR treats illegal hunters very severely. You can lose your car, house, and certainly hunting rights. Yet a sloppy gun owner whose kid steals his gun won’t likely even lose his FOID card.

  13. jjgettys

    Pat has morphed into an establishment [Obama] hack. His boat has drifted over the years. Now just looks for something to get him some attention, like a kid with self esteem issues. Really pretty pathetic. Its obviously ‘oh, i can pick on the gun lobby’ day.

  14. Passion it is all about passion.
    “Can we now shoot the #NRA and everyone who defends them? #PrayForNewton—
    John Cobarruvias (@BayAreaHouston) December 14, 2012″

    @BayAreaHouston is not just any random Twitter user. He is John Cobarruvias, a Democratic Party precinct chair in Houston, according to Houston blog Big Jolly Politics. (Update: He is also member of the State Democratic Executive committee.)

    After calling for shooting NRA members “and everyone who defends them,” Cobarruvias turned around and called the target of his incitement to violence a “domestic terrorist organization”


  15. Luke Fredrickson

    jjgettys, perhaps your boat hasn’t drifted enough over the years…

  16. Funny how the only version of the 2A ratified by the states, is the single comma version, so you should stick to that for any future reference!

    The second amendment as RATIFIED by the state’s.

    “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.”

    Maybe you can explain how for the entire history of English language, that the independent clause, a complete sentence capable of conveying a clear meaning, and must first exist for a dependent clause to have meaning, has always set the meaning of the complex sentence. (“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”)

    Yet some now infer the dependent clause, an incomplete sentence, incapable of conveying a clear meaning (A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State) is now the determinator of the complex sentence meaning and history and English scholars have all been wrong throughout the history of written English.

    Lets see, have you removed the 30 plus references from the congressional writings 1774-1789 & the federalist papers showing well regulated as to meaning well trained in the arts of war? Much less all those dictionaries that say the same thing? No, you haven’t. Reference Karpeles Museum, CA.

    Maybe you removed that original draft of what became the second amendment. You know, the one that was clearly written as a collective right, but then was changed to what exists today.

    original proposed draft 
the right to keep and bear arms 
of the 
(17 TH of 20 amendments) on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library 
Santa Ana, California

    “That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”

    Why did our founding fathers change the amendment draft if a collective right was what they wanted?

    Oh that’s right, actions do speak louder than words. Ref Karpeles Museum, CA again.

    Last I looked 10 USC § 311 – Militia: composition and classes was still law, yep it is.

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    Hey, who is responsible for calling the unorganized militia to muster anyway, oh thats right, your politicians, so uh when you going to talk about their absolute failure yet again to do their job?

    Hey Pat, did you repeal Heller yet? I mean if one actually reads the entire case summary (dissent included) why is it that all 9 justices agreed with the lower court finding that the 2A has and always will be a right seperate from militia service!

    Still also trying to grasp the logic of how anyone will prove, that the militia came before the armed individual with their pre-existing individual rights? Cause any sane person knows that how a collective is formed, is that pre-existing individuals with their pre-existing rights decide to come together!

    Funny, explain how if the inherent right to choose to resist tyranny doesnt exist how those 20% of insurrections throughout history that succeeded are null and void, LOL!

  17. Big Dave

    “I think Big Dave is embarrassed by the paranoid gun nuts, so he’s trying his best to lash out at me.”

    No Pat, I disagree with just about everything you say! Poor Pat.

    “And keep in mind that the vast majority of “illegal” guns out there were legally owned at some point. They were lost, stolen, given away , improperly sold, etc. by less than responsible gun owners.”

    Craig, I know you know nothing about what has to be done by myself if I sell any of my guns so let me inform you. As a FOID Card holder if I sell a gun I must record the persons personal information and see there FOID Card and keep the information for 10 years. If not I can be prosecuted under law.

    “Riddle me this: The DNR treats illegal hunters very severely. You can lose your car, house, and certainly hunting rights. Yet a sloppy gun owner whose kid steals his gun won’t likely even lose his FOID card.”

    Say Luke, get a life will you!

  18. SamAdams1776

    We will rise up against the government when the government proves we are not paranoid. And you better hope they don’t! It will be a bloody mess if they do!

    Molon Labe
    Si Vis Pacem Parabellum

  19. Big Dave

    This is all anyone needs to understand about the liberal agenda on gun control.


    Run by democrats for decades.
    Gun deaths in Chicago is one of the highest in this country.
    Chicago had a ban on guns but the deaths still happened.
    The new mayor of Chicago tell the thugs in Chicago to leave the kids alone, but does nothing else on the problem.

    No solution at any time but our President says he can. I guess he will vote present on this just like he did many times in the Illinois Senate.

    Did I mention where our President’s home is, you guessed it Chicago!

  20. “When are paranoid gun-owners going to take up arms against the government?”

    When? Why, when they show up at our homes to seize our firearms, thereby proving that we weren’t “paranoid” at all.

    Silly question.

  21. P.S. – See: General Gage at Lexington

  22. Bobikker

    This is what I want to know who is going be taking are guns away? Armed cops who I’m sure the majority of them to own personal guns. So who takes there guns away. If they would even show up at are doors to do the duties to the government(cause that point it would not be for the people). So they would de-arm the people they are swear’n to protect. Who cares if the government outlaws gun. The majority of us will not just hand them over!!!!! I’m still trying to figure out will come take them.

  23. Irish Dave

    Let’s say the government decides to confiscate your toys. More than likely ICE and SWAT and maybe even the military would show up. You would turn them over because if you didn’t these people who would outarm you would blow your damn asses away. Most police officers and ICE and SWAT team members don’t give a rat’s ass about “the people” as evidenced by their behavior. So yeah, if these people showed up for your toys you’d be docile and hand them over because you wouldn’t want your brains blown out.

  24. Big Dave

    To Irish Dave

    Really! Military? Oh well it just another violation of the Constitution.

  25. I’m a gun owner and sport shooter. I don’t collect social security. The term militia in the dictionary equates to citizens… Citizens are right there and since there are no militias today, that just leaves citizens. I’m not paranoid, just prepared for worst case scenario that is unlikely to happen. I’m just mad because my range time shooting paper, not people, is getting more expensive because of the like of you (Mr. Pat). Also, other gun owners binge buying contributes to raising costs.. Sucks. Shall not infringe and “citizens” have the RIGHT not given by government is pretty clear to me. Twist it all you want sir.

  26. Robert

    I know this story line is about whether or not the paranoid gun owners are going to take up guns against the government, but it seems the real question at hand is how to get guns out of the hands of people who use them to commit violent rampages, like the shootings at Newtown and the Colorado movie theater last year.

    The other illegal usage in question, and the one that causes more murders and injuries than any school or public place shooters, are those handguns used in the inner city neighborhoods, where drive by shootings and murders over territories are common everyday experiences. (Note-Rockford is considered a very dangerous city and in the category I’ve noted as far as turf wars). These crimes account for more deaths than any gun crime related categories. Neither category is alike but have the same outcome, dead people.

    Isn’t the real debate about how does America control the use of hand guns and military assault type weapons in the above noted examples? Is it possible in a supposedly free nation to control such things? In the case of the mass shootings, those people appear to be mentally ill, but the territory based shootings are being done by people who just don’t honor the civil code of behavior.

    Does anybody have any solutions or ideas for these situations since they are the ones causing this controversy? Why is the NRA controlling the content of this debate? Shouldn’t the mature, responsible gun owners be a source of information used to fix the problem of guns getting into the wrong hands? People can claim their 2nd amendment rights forever without ever discussing what a reasonable and effective solution could be.

    PS – I do think there is a minority of people who use the 2A right as a way to offset their hatred of the US Govt and fear they are going to take the guns away, but I don’t think that’s what caused the current debate, about effectively controlling who can easily buy weapons used in the situations I noted in the first two paragraphs.

  27. Here’s one:
    You no longer have the right to drink alcohol because you may drive a motor vehicle and potentially kill or injure someone. We should ban guns because gun owners will potentially kill or injure someone. There are laws against alcohol as is there are already gun laws. To jump up and rush legislation that affects the avg joe because Johnny sissy hates life and decides to take other lives is wrong. The next drunk drive killer should spark an anti-alcohol movement with liberals next by this logic. Prohibition worked really well didn’t it? Imagine if you further restrict our rights to firearms…

  28. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  29. The problem with the 2nd Amendment is that it is open to interpretation, that is the reason why it is the most used and abused law in America. Gun culture stems from a time when America was still unstable and the environment was violent and wild, hence the term wild, wild west.

    However, in this time of prosperity and peace guns should be controlled and only sold to people who has gone through rigorous training and testing that shows they are responsible owners. Guns should be treated as dangerous as drugs.

  30. It’s a billion dollar industry of course they will use any kind of marketing and mind conditioning to keep sales up.

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