The Arms of the Left
The Second Amendment has long been a point of contention between the right and left wings of American politics - the right stating that it is necessary for the nation by preventing the state from becoming too corrupt and tyrannical, the left stating that the Second Amendment as it is written is at best inadequate for technological progress since the 18th century, at worst an anachronism that causes more social harm than it could ever prevent. The shooting that took place today during practice for the Republican party for the Congressional Baseball game is, in this regard, an inverse of what one would expect.
During the previous administration there was a large increase in gun sales driven by the belief that President Obama would begin a process to disarm the American populace, to the point where the NRA frequently put out memes and statements about how Obama was the top firearm salesman of the year. This belief, based on Obama's vocal statements about gun violence in America, was only one fragment of the deep distrust many in America felt against Obama. Connected to a distrust of Obama was a distrust of the federal government in general, as citizens were afraid they would lose their liberty and livelihood because of federal intervention.
Throughout the Obama presidency I defended the private ownership of firearms. My study of history has shown me time and time again the evil that unrestrained governmental power can unleash on a populace - the first defense to such unrestrained power is checks and balances inside the government to prevent malign forces from gaining total control. If that fails, it falls to citizens to reaffirm their liberty and check the influence of a self-interested and tyrannical government. It is much preferred that tyranny is checked within the government instead of on the street - the rule of law is always superior to the rule of force or the rule of the mob. But if the rule of law is undermined, the ability for citizens to fight back is sacrosanct.
The strongest defense I had for firearm rights during the Obama presidency was that there can be no guarantee that a future president would be as concerned of civil liberties and social welfare as Obama was, and if a president did come along that would attempt to strip them of the rights they hold dear, they would have no method to fight back if they had guns. I further hammered the point home for liberals that the firearms that were currently owned were -
- Largely owned by their political opponents
- Would never be surrendered by their political opponents
- May be used against you just as they could be used against the government
To this end, I urged my liberal friends to rethink their position on firearms. They were afraid of armed bigots? Make sure the bigots aren't the only ones armed. Become comfortable around firearms, know how to safely operate them, and dispel the aura of hoplophobia that they had been bathed in for decades.
As it happens, not all liberals were hoplophobes. The shooter at the baseball field today, who I will not name in order not to glorify him, apparently felt that the country he was in was listing to tyranny. I cannot claim to know his position on the Second Amendment, but it is obvious that he saw his firearm as a tool to make his will known, heard and felt. I presume he targeted who he targeted because he held them responsible for the state of the country through action or inaction.
The argument then becomes : what is tyranny? It is obviously a subjective thing, because there are those that claimed tyranny during the last administration are not doing so this administration, and vice versa. The simplest answer would be that it is anything that gives increased power to an elected representative outside of the Constitution, but that has been happening since the ink dried. The lack of strict adherence to the rule of law makes the determination of tyranny the paraphrase of Justice Potter Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio - "I know it when I see it."
What happens next? There will be liberal sycophants rubbing their hands, delighted that Republican congressman are experiencing the gun violence they hold responsible for. Conservatives will condescendingly berate the Left for getting uppity and hysterical while trying to pin this on Bernie Sanders. The Secret Service might be expanded to protect Congressman and Supreme Court Justices, or concurrent protective services of similar quality will be formed. But I believe our institutions will generally continue as operating. All things considered, the last point is a good thing - the institutions that we have are what protect all of our rights and prevent the rule of force or rule of mob. It was the failure of the rule of law that led to the foolish murder of Tiberius Gracchus and his followers in 133 BC. This bloodletting began the unraveling of the Roman Republic and it's subsequent transformation of the Empire in 27 BC.
Attacking elected officials only undermines these institutions. The best way to fight them is at the ballot box - 2018 is rapidly approaching, and with it a gauge of how people are reacting to the governance of this country.