Gun owners always bring up two old fallacies when they try to defend the incredible rate of gun violence in the US: “A well-armed society is a polite society.” and “As any student of history knows, gun control figures prominently in the designs of totalitarian states.” The USofA is the best armed society in the world, with 89 guns per 100 citizens (as of a 2007 survey), and I find it hard to imagine that anyone would classify us as “well mannered.” The NRA has bought and paid for a collection of gutless and moronic congresscritters to maintain a national inability to make decent estimates as to how many households are gun-toting, but most estimates put the number at about 40%. That’s not far from the “traditional” number of armed American households, so if history were on the side of the “defenders of freedom” argument, you’d think we’d have some evidence in our history. We do not have any such evidence.
The well-armed citizens of Andrew Jackson’s 1830’s regime did absolutely nothing to stop the forced “Trail of Tears” march, the ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee,Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. In fact, well-armed citizens often stood along the trail harassing the victims and, even, occasionally killing one or more including grabbing children from their mothers’ arms and bashing them to death on rocks and wagon wheels.
During the 1892 Homestead Steel Strike, the military was called in to bust the union after Pinkertons and the local cops failed to successfully violate workers’ rights. I’m sure you’ll be amazed to learn that the hundreds of thousands of well-armed Americans around the country sat on their hands and watched Andrew Carnegie’s goons, local cops, and the Pennsylvania State Militia crushed the strike and tossed the steel workers back into near-slavery. There was plenty of violence on both sides of the labor battle, but damn little contribution from the well-armed society that read about the strike, the strike breakers, and saw the Pinkerton goons abusing their neighbors and fellow workers. In the end, the busted strike cost workers income and rights all over the country as the union collapsed along with most of the union movement and the mine owners retaliated by lowering wages and increasing work hours.
Likewise, the 1894 Pullman Strike was settled with military assistance and cost workers a few more rights and a crapload of jobs. Still, no response from the armed citizenry who were supposed to believe will rise up and defend democracy, freedom, and the American Way. In fact, the average American disapproved of the strike because it inconvenienced them slightly, along with agitating the Faux News of the day; the yellow journalism Hearst newspaper. Grover Cleveland, the jackass Republican President of the time created Labor Day as a diversion to placate unions and the rare semi-alert American laborer. Eugene Debs, one of the union organizers, went to prison, studied Karl Marx, and became a socialist who ran for president five times. Eventually, our tolerance for democracy hit a new low when Woodrow Wilson’s merry band of goons tried and convicted Debs for in 1918 under the Espionage Act of 1917 and sent a presidential candidate to prison for 10 years. If an armed public were capable of being incited to revolt in the interest of freedom and democracy, you’d think jailing a legitimate candidate who received 900,000 votes might have done it. But it didn’t. Apparently, putting up road blocks between capitalists and their war profits is an unacceptable and unforgivable crime.
In 1903, the Colorado Labor Wars gave the armed public yet another chance to grow a pair and rise up on their hind legs. “There is no episode in American labor history in which violence was as systematically used by employers as in the Colorado labor war of 1903 and 1904.” The Blackwater goons of the day, the Pinkertons, and the state militia abused miners at will, even publicizing some of their abuses in national newspapers. After numerous beatings, murders, illegal imprisonment of miners and their families, a couple of incidents of military sniping and general purpose class warfare, the miners were forced back to work or fired for union activity. The state of Colorado’s citizens revolted, mildly, passing a referendum requiring an 8-hour workday. The new corporate-owned Republican governor tabled the constitutional amendment and the legislature let it die.
When Herbert Hoover sent Douglas McArthur’s Army and six tanks to dispatch/disburse the “Bonus Army” (WWI vets who had been screwed out of the cash value of their “service certificates” so that bankers and other Great Depression scammers could continue their corporate welfare party.), there is no record of the millions of American gun owners rising up to defend fellow citizens who had fought for them in the first “Great War.” The majority of Americans turned their heads just as you might predict they would if they were disarmed.
That was then and this is now, right?
How about the 1968 Chicago Police Riots? Crooked cops went on a rampage, beating the crap out of war protestors, political campaign workers, bystanders who just happened to be walking, driving, or standing in the general territory of the crazed and crooked police (Remember the Time Magazine headline, “Cops on the take can’t take orders?”) ; including Hugh Heffner who was just picking up his morning paper when he got clobbered. Just a “bunch of hippies,” right? Not worth your gun-toting time to protect their rights from the powers that be.
How about the 1970 Ohio State National Guard Murders? Talk about the moment when the government comes to end civil rights. It’s hard to beat the inspiration that should have come from the murder of four students after the crazed military goons fired 67 rounds into a crowd of peace protestors. We’d just “escaped” from 8 years of the terror of liberal Democratic government. Gun ownership was hitting all-time new highs. Where was the outrage? Where were the armies of pissed off and armed citizens? The government was overstepping every Constitutional boundary and a fair number of Nixon’s goons were ready to send the military after anyone who disagreed with their power grab and profit-taking. Still, no protests, except from the kids who would be asked to dump blood and futures into this regime.
There is no shortage of moments in American history where liberty could have been defended by the mostly-bullshit-filled Second Amendment proponents. Every opportunity has been ignored. Where do these gun loonies show up? At political rallies, in movie theaters, at Starbucks, in restaurants, and in grocery stores. They are not fighting for liberty, they are scaring the shit out of the rest of us. These crazy fucks don’t give a flying damn about freedom, democracy, or liberty. They are wannabe terrorists who don’t have a clue why the Second Amendment is in our Constitution. Because of them, I think it’s time to repeal that poorly considered portion of the Bill of Rights.
One of the more obvious things about gun owners is that they are practically never anyone you might consider to be revolutionary, defenders of liberty, progressive, or, even, liberal. They are overwhelmingly conservative. Conservatives, by definition, are the least likely people on the planet to have to worry about being harassed by “the government.” With the obvious understanding that “government exists to protect the rich from the poor,” you would have to be a Fox News simpleton to imagine that our military, police, or any other government agency would be “coming for my guns” if you are anything less than an armed Arian Nations KKK-sheet-wearing nutball. If you aren’t a noisy nutball, even then you’re pretty damn safe from the US government.
On the other hand, if you are an unarmed Occupy kid protesting the rape and pillage of the American Treasury by our well-dressed criminal banking class, you’re going to get your ass handed to you by every goon with a SWAT patch on his uniform or a riot-control suit to play in. If you are foolish enough to possess weapons while supporting any sort of change in our corporate oligarchy you are probably going to be shot or rounded up and tried for treason. For the most part, the people who are most likely to be harassed by any government on the planet are also the least likely to own guns. But we know that’s not the NRA’s crowd, right? Those folks will be helping with the round up long before they make a useful contribution to restoring democracy or creating a fair society. They are, after all, conservatives and conservatives support the status quo no matter how evil it may be. They always have and always will.