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Patriots don’t push anarchy as answer

The biggest argument against gun control is a strange and disturbing twist on patriotism: Those who love their guns insist that the Second Amendment is not about protecting a right to hunt, say, but the means of resisting government tyranny.

Consider the irony: Every self-professed patriot becomes teary-eyed about the flag and those whose job it is to fight to protect it – and rightly so. But if guns were used in an effort to overthrow a tyrannical government, guess who the enemy would be?

Why, those same men and women of the armed forces. The president, if a reminder is needed, is their commander in chief.

Count me out. The idea is totally repugnant.

Tyranny, you say? North Korea is a tyranny, the old Soviet Union was a tyranny. The United States is not a tyranny, not even close, not under Barack Obama. Not previously under George W. Bush.

Like everything in modern life, the word “tyrant” has been devalued and dumbed down to the point of meaninglessness. What we have is a government that some people don’t like – and fair enough, they may have good reason. It was ever thus: Abraham Lincoln was considered a tyrant, but he left words to describe what we really do have, however imperfectly, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Any American who needs an assault weapon for possibly making war on his supposedly dictatorial government is really contemplating another Civil War. Has the nation become so brain-dead that it has forgotten the horrors of brother fighting brother? At least the Civil War was about real issues, not the sour fruit of paranoia.

Besides, the idea that the Founding Fathers were almost inviting armed insurrection with the Second Amendment does not square with the historical record.

Not long after the Revolution, farmers in western Pennsylvania rose up violently to oppose a tax on the whiskey they distilled from their grain. The Whiskey Rebellion was put down in 1794 by an army sent by President George Washington, who rode at the head of it. From the earliest, the federal government made it clear it wasn’t going to tolerate nonsense from armed blowhards who thought freedom meant anarchy.

We should take the point. Gun extremists shouldn’t be allowed to justify possession of hugely powerful guns that can massacre a crowd of kids quickly and efficiently because those guns one day might need to be turned on the government to preserve freedom. At this point of our bloody history, this should not be a respectable idea. There is an old word that we should resurrect for this poisonous argument: treasonous.

Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.