What tyrannical government does the 2nd Amendment address?
In reading the ratification debates for the Bill of Rights it is unclear what tyrannical government they are talking about - the inclination is towards a foreign government - the ratification of the 2nd Amendment took place just 8 years after the Revoutionary War.
If in some fanatsy world the United States Government became tyrannical and all the gun toting folks took up arms against them, just how much of a chance would those foks have against the US Armed Forces?
I doubt they would stand much chance at all against the Military. I question if even the President could convince our Military to turn their weapons on the civilians of this once great nation. I would imagine a few would, but doubt the vast majority would go along with this plan. I know I wouldn't,
My impression of the 2nd Amendment is that it was really meant to keep the government from ever having the force capability to even TRY to be tyrannical. Madison, for example, talked about a ratio of about 1:25 between men in the federal standing army vs. men in a potential civilian militia. Of course, this was back when the one-to-one capabilities were relatively comparable.
Now of course the one-to-one is nowhere close. In fact it is essentially irrelevant. The only way a civilian militia would slow down a modern army unit is if the army ran out of bullets and gas.
And so that force capability ratio has been blown past a long time ago. We now have the most powerful and capable standing army the world has ever known, and though we may have a lot of guns, the number of people that could actually be formulated into some sort of useful militia is probably pretty small.
And so the 2nd has completely failed its intent. It wasn't meant as a thing to win a war against a standing army, and it would now be very ineffective at doing so. If some group of yahoos with guns seriously challenged the government I think the government/police would in fact defend themselves. It would probably be relatively easy to frame that encounter Waco-like, as in we had to defend ourselves against a bunch of crazies with guns.
If we really had to overthrow the government, the most effective way would be a mass peaceful uprising. I can't see any police force or military force turning their guns on peaceful citizens en masse. Egypt, recently, serves as a good example of this in action. No 2nd Amendment required.
It is bewildering to me that many of the people who seem most concerned about the 2nd Amendment as a defense against government tyranny are often the same people who argue for giving the government extraordinary power (e.g an ultra-powerful standing army and policies such as the Patriot Act). It seems paradoxical to me.
Thanks for your well thought out and intelligent expressions on this subject - it has so many puzzling aspects - good fodder for debate. i also wonder where the limits are on the 2nd Amendment - does it cover missiles, 50 caliber machine guns, bombs
The 2nd amendment protection is to give pause to both to a tyrannical gov't that could be implemented domestically or from a foreign source. As for your second question, the population does not need to defeat a standing army. It only needs to extract enough of a price politically and militarily to break their spirit. The Afgan's defeated the Soviet War Machine on horseback. The Scot's repelled an oppressive British gov't with limited resources. Throughout history, subjugated populations have risen up against foreign and domestic regimes and rejected oppressive govt's successfully, while being outnumbered, & outgunned. They only needed the will to fight for freedom. The founders understood that an armed population would give either threat additional pause before attempting to subjugate the people. It is quite difficult to subjugate an armed population without a great deal of resistance. This is expressly why, particularly in recent global history, dictators often first use political authority to disarm those they intend to exterminate before they pursue their goal. Stalin, Hitler, Mao...etc. Americans are very naive to believe that a nation with such a short history is so insulated from the tyranny that is essentially the norm in human history.
I think many people in the US today think 2nd Amendment is in place in case the power-mad tyrants on the local park district board raise the Saturday admission prices for the petting zoo.
That's the problem. There is no real scale or alarm that lets anyone know when the government becomes tyrannical. So nobody knows when it begins. I'd never shoot a cop, that's for sure. Does that mean I'm accepting tyranny? Every armed insurrection against the government in the US has failed. Here is what I do know: I can still remember back when cops used to carry those crappy short-barrel revolvers that couldn't hit a barn 10 feet away. Now they carry Berettas because the armed population and criminals all carry them. The government arms itself more heavily to meet the threat of the people that buy these dangerous weapons.
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