The NRA loves making the argument that firearms protect us from the “tyranny of government:”
“Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.” ~ Wayne LaPierre responding to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who asked whether he agreed with the point of view that people need firepower to protect themselves from the government, Monday, April 8, 2013 before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Indeed, in speaking to Rachel Maddow about the 2013 NRA Convention in Houston, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut noted that:
“The NRA basically announced over the weekend that they are morphing into a paramilitary group, that in essence they are advocating armed resistance to the U.S. government.”
It seems a ridiculous notion on its face that in a modern world, a country of private citizens armed with handguns, shotguns and assault rifles is more likely to remain a liberal democracy than a country where private citizens lack such weapons. There has been no instance in modern history where a democratic country resisted a takeover by an oppressive authoritarian government due to firearm ownership by private citizens. Rather, when tyrannical governments come to power in democracies, they are eventually thwarted by the ballot box, popular support, through foreign intervention or occasionally through military juntas such as has been seen in modern times in Brazil, Chile and Iran – or more recently in Greece.
Laws are passed in America by the actions of legislature, the courts and the executive, with the consent of the voters with no regard given to whether they are armed or not. Legislators do not vote up or down on measures out of fear of being shot, nor does the government hesitate to enforce them once passed because they are concerned about resistance by gun-toting Americans.
Widespread gun ownership has not deterred the government from enforcing drug laws as evidenced by the massive cache of weapons inevitably seized in the course of drug arrests.
If anything, the ever expanding number of firearms in the hands of private citizens is forcing the government to become more repressive and tyrannical in its efforts to fight crime and to prevent future acts of terrorism and insurrection. Leading conservatives are coming out in support oppressive governmental action such as profiling, noting that privacy may become cost of safety.
It seems that with Congress unwilling to act to prevent future tragedies, the NRA has won the coin toss. I just hope they are willing to receive if any of them feels like going up against the might of the United States government with their pea-shooters.