In my annual (at least) reading of the Declaration of Independence, I have been thinking a lot about this section:
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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
There’s a movement of people in the United States that seem to think the law, the government is SO oppressive that it does not apply to them. Notably of late, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federal lands for the last twenty years while refusing to pay grazing fees, because he doesn’t recognize the federal government. “The feds ordered Bundy to pay the fees he owed, ordered him to get his cattle off the publicly-owned property and let him know when they would be coming to enforce these orders in person… Between the end of March and April 10th, Bundy supporters whipped each other into a frenzy on social media, grabbed their AR-15s and AK-47s, and swooped down on the Bundy ranch to defend their newest freeloading patriot hero from the federal usurpers of the Bureau of Land Management.”
It appeared that at least some of the Bundy supporters were looking for the federal government to shoot, so they could shoot back and claim it was another Ruby Ridge or Waco. Instead, the feds walked away. FOX News embraced Bundy’s criminal activity, Because Freedom, until Bundy’s racist rants, and I’m STILL at a loss to understand their justification. Then again, I may be looking for the rational when it is not to be found.
I would not be surprised if some of the Bundy supporters were part of the Sovereign Citizens Movement, people who “believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.”
Also, you have your folks who believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution means that one has the right to terrorize others by carrying their large weapons around with them. In a climate of regular school shootings – though some of them apparently don’t count – this seems ill-advised. Even the National Rifle Association said this behavior was “downright weird” until the backlash forced them to retreat from that position.
The cartoon How to Tell the Difference Between an Open-Carry Patriot and a Deranged Killer was so good I reposted it on Facebook, to great response. If you were someone with mayhem on your mind, wouldn’t you shoot the Open Carry people first?
The spokesman for NRA, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, (in)famously said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” This was in response to the Newtown, CT tragedy when 20 children and six adults died in December 2012.
But a recent article in Gawker put factors about the use of even a concealed gun succinctly: It’s Really Hard to Be a Good Guy With a Gun. The guy who tried to stop Jerad Miller, one of the murderers of two Las Vegas police officers was instead killed by that murderer’s wife, Amanda. The Millers’ actions were fueled by anti-government rage.
One of the Gawker commenters added:
What are the chances of [a] situation being one in which you can safely draw your weapon (as defined by a decreased likelihood of hitting an uninvolved civilian, or drawing attention to the uninvolved civilians around you while drawing your gun, or mistaking another “good guy with a gun” for the perpetrator, or being mistaken by the cops as perpetrator)?
The Las Vegas murderers, not incidentally, were supporters of rancher Bundy.
I certainly have my issues with the government overreach – and that is probably its own post – but the behaviors described here, couched in patriotic language, make me feel most unsettled, and not particularly free.