Flirting with treason: The insurrectionist ideology of the NRA


THIS ESSAY, while not especially well-written, makes some pertinent points:

The NRA’s leadership embraces an insurrectionist ideology that asserts that the intent of the Second Amendment is to permit American citizens to shoot and kill federal agents and law enforcement officers in the event that they believe those agents are attempting to facilitate or impose some form of government tyranny. This dangerous doctrine, that flirts with committing treason, is the cornerstone of the gun lobby’s opposition to any and all forms of gun control. This ideology is explicitly expressed by many of the NRA’s congressional supporters.

For example, freshman Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida, an NRA endorsed candidate in 2012, refusing to yield any concessions on gun control, recently told a reporter that it was the birthright of every American to have “the same equipment as the military.” Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre argued that, “without any doubt” Americans need the firepower to fight back against the government if government agents come knocking at the door. In 2009, at the CPAC Convention, LaPierre stated bluntly that “Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”


The debate over regulating guns is a contentious one and a necessary one in a functioning democracy. Individuals have a right to self-protection and to recreational hunting and target shooting. However, neither self-protection nor recreation require unlimited access to military grade weapons, and citizens have a right to a reasoned debate on what gun law reforms might be necessary in the wake of tremendous tragedies like the Aurora theater shooting, the Sikh temple murders and the Sandy Hook massacre. Such difficult debates warrant a public discussion on the merits of gun legislation and what measures can be done to improve public safety without violating the constitutional rights of American citizens.

Reason does not however dictate that we continue to indulge the paranoid rantings and delusional fantasies of militant fanatics whose grasp of reality is so thin that they make comparisons between Barack Obama and tyrants like Adolf Hitler, with no sense of irony and no acknowledgement of hyperbole. In these twisted fantasies, any attempt to curtail any type of weaponry or to require any type of background check is tantamount to tyranny. No government agency is intent on disarming the American citizenry simply by advocating a few sensible pieces of legislation designed to curb gun violence. The idea that the US federal government is determined to disarm and enslave us, has no credible evidence on its side. The fact that gun-toting ideologues can not distinguish between a text like “Mein Kampf” and a text like “The Audacity of Hope”, is but one of the flaws of the insurrectionist line of thinking. Passing an energy tax, raising corporate income taxes or enacting an expansion of government assistance for health care does not constitute tyranny. Setting a limit on magazine sizes no more leads down the slippery slope to gun confiscation than setting a speed limit leads to automobile confiscation.

The notion that citizens need to have military style weaponry to fight their government implies that the government is intent on waging war on the citizenry, a notion that is on the surface absurd. Yes, our government does sometimes violate the civil liberties of some of the nation’s citizens and we as a nation must collectively be vigilant in fighting government excesses. However, the paranoid fantasy that we need to resist our government by force or that the idea that any one citizen has the right or the ability to wage war on the government and win is simply lunacy.



  1. Steverino

    Let’s face it the NRA is not exactly Mensa International when it comes to reasoning.

  2. charles becker

    Pat cunningham is a fool.

  3. Frankster

    “Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

    -Tench Cox, “Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution,” in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789.

    “Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people.”

    -Tench Cox
    The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

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