Joseph Cotto, 5/10/2016 [Archive]

Militant Fatalism and the 2nd Amendment

By Joseph Cotto

Ever since Sandy Hook revived gun control in our national discussion, gun-rights advocates have circled the wagons around the Second Amendment.

Some of them are suggesting some very troublesome things.

Many people believe that firearm regulations violate their constitutional rights. If the Second Amendment is uniquely meant to be taken as absolute, then they are entirely correct.

Why some folks afford gun rights this status, yet not freedom of speech and religious liberty, is an interesting question.

What raises eyebrows is the particular reason that many gun absolutists wish to own firearms in the first place. In a nutshell, they want the ability to fend off a government perceived as tyrannical.

One man's tyranny is another man's notion of ideal liberty. This is not the point, though. The point is that there are people across the fruited plains who are preparing for armed resistance of some kind.

For them, what exactly signals it is time to — in an ill-conceived imitation of Thomas Jefferson — start watering the tree of liberty? A bloodcurdling question if there ever was one. There can be no question, however, that a militia mentality has taken root in our society.

Unchecked, it has the potential to bring substantial violence and chaos.

Perhaps most who interpret the Second Amendment as permission to rise up and shoot the police or anyone else who threatens their liberty are engaged in a fantastical — though rhetorical — exercise. Perhaps they never would start shedding blood. At the end of the day, their heads would cool and peace would prevail.

In any case, it is hard to imagine that semi-automatic AR-15s would be any match for fully automatic military arms combined with other military technology.

Unless the Supreme Court decides that 'arms' in the Second Amendment denotes any and all weapons, civilians will never have surface to air missiles in their arsenals, nor tanks and landmines. On this note, government-owned drones and bazookas would quash any threat posed by neighborhood militias.

In domestic spitting contests with Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam always wins. There is no way around that historical fact. Check out the Whiskey Rebellion, Amerindian wars, Mormon conflicts, Puerto Rican nationalist uprisings, as well as the mess Cliven Bundy and his family found themselves in for more details.

People talk violence from the comfort of their living rooms, much the same way politicians in elegant Washingtonian conference rooms send young men and women to die in swamps and desert hell-holes.

Violence in theory is much more satisfying than violence in fact, and boasts about it — inspired by what can only be seen through the mind's eye — equate with imagining oneself an NFL quarterback or beauty queen. A grotesque fantasy, no doubt, but for untold millions the stuff of ecstasy. Still, so long as nobody is harmed, lurid imaginings are nothing more than that.

The real problem arises at the moment these fantasists decide their visions no longer foot the bill. When people have guns in their hands, they enter a highly dangerous grey area where fantasy and real life collide. Real life always wins. Innocent individuals often incur the ultimate loss as a result.

Moral of the story: Firearms should be used for lawful self-defense, not pipe dreams rooted in militant fatalism.

During the years ahead, hopefully our country will find its way back to a point of harmonious centrism. While the gun regulation debate may never fall behind us, we should nonetheless manage to focus on key issues facing America's future.

Naive as it might sound, I do look forward to the day on which our opinions regarding the Second Amendment are not among those key issues. What a benchmark that would be for American civilization.

Such a wonderful dream deserves to become a reality.

——-

Copyright 2016 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

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