skip to Main Content
Resistance Is The Core Principle Behind The Second Amendment

Resistance is the Core Principle Behind the Second Amendment

By Jason Mayes

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (The Declaration of Independence)

Gun control advocates often scoff at the idea that the right to bear arms is also about the right to protect yourself against your government. They act as though it’s prima facie absurd; a paranoid delusion of right-wing fanatics.

Gun control advocates often scoff at the idea that the right to bear arms is also about the right to protect yourself against your government. They act as though it’s prima facie absurd; a paranoid delusion of right-wing fanatics.

Even if they grant that this was the intent of the 2nd amendment, there’s yet another issue. Against a powerful government and its modern weaponry, it’s obvious that ordinary citizens stand no chance. An incited populace taking up arms against their government is hardly a point they will concede.

Such hand-waving dismissals miss the mark, and are not as well thought out as they believe. The first dismissal is ahistorical. It ignores the oppressive and violent track-record of governments throughout human history; as well as the potential of even a free country to backslide into authoritarianism (Nazi Germany, anyone?). Constitutional checks and balances are certainly a safeguard, but no guarantee that liberty and due process will always be preserved.

What Can Civilians Really Do?

What about the second dismissal, that a well-armed people stand no chance against modern government with its advanced weaponry? This is not obviously true and there are reasons to challenge it:

(1. It ignores the powerful tactic of guerilla warfare- which has been wielded effectively against far more powerful militaries (including the Vietcong against the U.S.). The fact that the U.S. government is now even more advanced in its weapons capabilities than it was during the Vietnam war does not necessarily make this tactic impossible.

(2. Armed resistance is no guarantee. But, even if it’s unlikely to succeed, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to at least attempt to resist authoritarianism.

(3. Our own government certainly makes a habit of providing arms to rebel insurgents to fight against their governments.

(4. Defending yourself against your government is not limited to engaging in outright war. There are circumstances in which armed resistance against armed government agents could be a valid and justified response to agents who attempt to unjustly imprison or kill you or someone else. Whether or not it is prudent to do so and whether or not such defense succeeds or fails is a separate question from whether or not you have a moral right to defend yourself.

In conclusion, the argument that the right to keep and bear arms is also about the the right to defend yourself against your government, should it ever become necessary, is neither invalid nor absurd. It may be radical, but radical ideas are not always wrong.

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *