The expression "It's gonna be 1776 all over again" has replaced "Pry my gun from my cold dead hands" as the mantra of gun zealots.
I have owned firearms since I was 16 and have followed this debate for decades. I have never heard of anyone advocating banning or confiscating all firearms, but to listen to these extremists, one would think that this is the norm. Using this "logic," speed limits, and stop signs lead us down the slippery slope to banning autos entirely. Controls on prescription drugs is the prelude to banning all pharmaceuticals.
In most post-Newtown commentaries, the need for assault rifles and large magazines is questioned. They are not needed for hunting, target shooting, etc., so why the demand? Perhaps to eliminate fumbling for second or third magazines, or to allow a killer to pump several rounds into each kindergartner?
The seldom iterated reason is that these are needed to counter the "tyranny" of U.S. government, or at the very least, to be used against anyone who needs to be killed once society collapses, which these people think will be soon. Adding to this paranoia is a boiling hatred for President Barack Obama, who is seen as trying to destroy the American way of life, establish a new world order, raise taxes, ban all guns, and apple pie.
In fact, until Newtown, Obama's only movement on guns was to legalize carrying them on Amtrak and in national parks. Most reasonable Americans agree that, as is the case with most dangerous and deadly products, there need to be controls on guns, especially background checks. Although mass shootings like Aurora or Newtown garner the most attention, accidental shootings, gun suicides and domestic violence take a far higher toll.
I am disturbed by the erosion of liberty during the last 12 years. The Patriot Act and other trappings of a police state that began under Bush, remain under Obama. But tyranny in the form of police killing of unarmed students and strikers and the military draft are history. The use of the death penalty, which sometimes leads to execution of innocent people, is declining.
Some of these unstable or radical folks say that they are about to start shooting. Some, including the shooters of Gabby Giffords, recently murdered firemen and a school bus driver, actually have. Although he used a bomb, Timothy McVeigh was also of this mindset. Jefferson is misquoted as having said that the government should "fear the people." Should an official avoid appearing in public lest a disgruntled citizen assassinate him? In this paper in a recent commentary "Gun laws are just the beginning" the writer stated that "A militia needs to be established to arrest those responsible and put them on trial. .... I am not suggesting overthrowing the government but only restoring it." This would be interesting to watch. "Dear Mr. President: We are not overthrowing the government, but you are under arrest. We have guns!" Signed, the Happy Valley Freedom Militia.
As a boy I daydreamed about picking off Communist soldiers from my window as they marched down my street. I'd have used my trusty .22-bolt action rifle. I never had the chance, but it wouldn't have played out well.
An equally silly fantasy is the one wherein our current malcontents triumph over the U.S. government. A wise man said, "Anyone delusional enough to think he can take on the U.S. military isn't qualified to own a weapon."
This isn't 1776. We have an elected government. The type of guns in private hands are no match for government firepower. The infiltration by the FBI of any organization, and the surveillance and arrest or assassination of leaders, would ensure failure.
Haters such as skinheads, white supremacists, religious holy warriors, and Neo-Nazis would spring into action. In the event of the unlikely success of this effort, what would a new government forged by revolution, civil war and carnage look like? After the civil war played out, the violent "winners", having rejected representative government, with its despised courts, voting and compromise, would anoint a strongman, who would reign over the wreckage of the Disunited States of America. Since taxation is anathema to this crowd, the recovery would be exceedingly slow. But Americans would still have their guns. That is until the New Leader decided that they were too dangerous ... time for revolution!
My hope is that these zealots and conspiracy theorists will realize that a "well regulated militia" does not refer to a bunch of deluded, gun-toting citizens who live in a fantasy world where they all get to be John Wayne shooting at black helicopters and that they will participate in government, rely on the courts and realize that compromise is, if evil, a necessity.
Dennis Wilson is a Forestville resident.