Opinion Top of the Ticket

Do gun absolutists want the right to bear rocket launchers?

Gun owners truly have nothing to worry about. There are no federal commandos coming to break down their doors and take away their guns.

Sure, there is an outside chance that a universal gun registration system will be approved by Congress, but anything more, including -- and especially -- an assault weapons ban, will be scuttled by the House Republican caucus, if not by Democrats trying to win reelection in gun-friendly red states.

And yet, given the rhetoric of the National Rifle Assn. lobbyists and the noisy agitators in the conservative media complex, one would think that President Obama is planning the modern equivalent of the British march on Lexington to confiscate patriot firearms.

The usual case against gun control is being made, of course -- that it does not work and only burdens law-abiding gun owners, not criminals who, by definition, flout the law. But the loudest voices on the right are making a more strident argument. They are saying that the 2nd Amendment guarantee of a right to keep and bear arms is not concerned with hunting birds or shooting skeet or target practice at a gun range, it is about giving citizens the means to resist despots like King George III. In other words, it is about a civilian capacity to fight the forces of overbearing government.

Certainly, the fact that they had just concluded a people's war against a king was very much on the minds of those 18th century Americans who approved the 2nd Amendment. But what does that imply for Americans today?

The gun-rights absolutists insist that it means that ownership of weapons on par with those in the hands of government agents and the military is guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore, assault weapons cannot be banned and that any attempt to do so would be unconstitutional and despotic.

That's why the rhetoric has gotten so heated, driving the most vociferous firearms fans to toy with the idea of armed revolt against "King Obama."

But, paranoid rants aside, the logical conclusion of the hyper conservatives' argument ends in a strange place. If the patriots of 1776 could match the redcoats with muskets and cannon, doesn’t the absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment suggest that today’s "patriots" should be able to stand against a modern army? Doesn't it mean that citizens have a right to keep and bear, not just AR-15s, but rocket launchers, tanks, fighter jets and attack helicopters?

Most Americans would say that is preposterous, but I suspect there are more than a few who think that sounds like a great idea.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Hillary Clinton exits Benghazi probe looking stronger than ever
    Hillary Clinton exits Benghazi probe looking stronger than ever

    When Hillary Clinton went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Republicans opened their bags of overly ripe conspiracy theories and moldering fruitcake ideas and tossed everything at her. Every shot missed.

  • Obama's inaugural speech provokes rattled Republicans
    Obama's inaugural speech provokes rattled Republicans

    The complaints of congressional Republicans that President Obama’s inaugural address sent them no bouquets and love letters show a lot of gall, given the history of the last four years. Obama’s inauguration speech in 2009 was crammed with language about bipartisan cooperation and...

  • Obama's fourth-quarter foreign policy surprises
    Obama's fourth-quarter foreign policy surprises

    Six months ago, President Obama's foreign policy looked stymied. Negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians were at a dead end. Russia was gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. U.S. efforts to end the war in Syria were ineffective. A new extremist army, Islamic State, was marching into Iraq.

  • Ukraine should put Russia to the test
    Ukraine should put Russia to the test

    Ukraine is now strong enough to seize the initiative to create a lasting cease-fire in its Donbas Rust Belt, currently occupied by Russia and its proxies. And Russia may be weak enough to be receptive. It is in Kiev's interest to do so. A state of permanent war with Russia would damage...

  • The great fear of the great outdoors
    The great fear of the great outdoors

    Americans find ourselves in a period — arguably, the first in our nation's history — when our unease about being in nature is coming to outweigh our desire for it. We have a growing intolerance for inconvenience, a feeling well captured by the suburban fifth-grader who memorably...

  • Animals and humans sometimes kill their young -- the question is why
    Animals and humans sometimes kill their young -- the question is why

    Among the endless stream of bad news in the media, every now and then something occurs that it is so horrendous that it stops us in our tracks. That has happened once again with Tuesday's massacre at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Among the victims: 132 children who died — many of them...

Comments
Loading