Gun control does not a tyranny make

Let’s talk about genocide.Genocide does require many individual acts of murder, but there’s a lot more to it. Gun violence kills about 30,000 Americans a year. If the victims were people with hazel eyes, if people with hazel eyes were being terrorized and forced to live in fear, then US gun violence would be genocide. As it is, it’s just a national tragedy, a ¬†failure of public health, and an embarrassment.

Genocide is organized, it’s systematic, it’s supported by people in power. It’s aim to to terrorize and murder large groups of people who share a trait. One could argue that many of Stalin’s millions of murders were not genocide as the targets shared little in common other than Stalin wanted them dead (there are obvious exceptions with some Soviet ethnic minorities). Naziism still serves as our best example of genocide.

Once the Nazi regime decided that Jews would be the target, they systematically drove German Jews out of business, destroyed their places of worship, shot them, beat them, put them in rail cars segregating and murdering them. The entire power of the state was set against an ethnic group. The Germans, who a few years before had been reduced to an impoverished country with little military might, built a dictatorship and a powerful military using the consent of the people, terror, murder, and propaganda. The majority of Germans didn’t oppose this. Any ethnic minority who was labelled to die did just that because an entire state was set against them.

Lately, a segment of the US gun-nut population has been (non-ironically) comparing gun control to Naziism. It’s really hard to believe any explanation for this idiocy is necessary, but let’s look at this analogy a bit.

What is the supposed tyranny gun nuts want to oppose? When you break it down, read their literature, much of it is directed at the US government and at President Obama in particular. When he was first elected, guns and ammunition flew off the shelves. People completely lost their shit, if they ever had it in the first place.

Obama and Hitler share one common trait: they started as democratically-elected leaders. Barely, in Hitler’s case, as his terror gangs helped ensure his political opponents were in no shape to oppose him. In Obama’s case, Americans decided they wanted him to be president, not any of the other guys. This happened despite attempts to dis-enfranchise likely-Democratic voters. Because we are a fundamentally stable democracy, elections work.

Guns have never played a part in the maintenance of a democracy in the US. Gun ownership in the colonies, which existed for more than a century before the revolution perhaps made it easier to form an army to oppose the Brits, but really, without the external support of France, without the distances involved, the war would have lasted much longer. The colonies were, fundamentally, un-rulable and the real question was how much blood would have to be spilled to prove it.

The civil war, in which a large number of Americans rebelled against what they saw as an unjust government killed people—lots of people. It destroyed large swaths of the country. And the war was not won because Unionists kept guns at home, but because the industrial north could manufacture sophisticated weapons in large numbers.

The so-called disarming of the population feared by the gun-nuts isn’t happening, and if it did (we can only hope), it wouldn’t change our form of government, wouldn’t change our ability to resist tyranny from home or abroad. If the US government really wanted to become a dictatorship (unlikely to ever happen), disarming the population wouldn’t even be necessary. The navy could simply drop a JDAM on people they didn’t like.

But we do have constitutional protections against dictatorship, and they’ve worked for centuries. We have a tripartite government with checks and balances, we have a military that is forbidden from intervening domestically, and frankly, Americans simply haven’t been interested in tyranny as a form of government and have rejected leaders who were interested in it.

The government doesn’t want your guns. But many of us Americans want better control of the firearms trade, want military-style weapons off the market, and would like to see far fewer than 30,000 gun deaths a year. And because we’re sane, we don’t think that gun control means Obama is going to ship some ethnic group or another to camps and kill them.

America hasn’t done genocide well for a long time. When we nearly destroyed the entire indigenous American population we were un-apologetic, but we’ve managed not to repeat ourselves, and we’re unlikely to in the future.


  1. I find the whole “protection against tyranny” argument for guns to be risible, for all the reasons you list and:

    The gun nuts just aren’t going to fight a second war of independence. They are no army: they have no supply lines, no planning resources and no chain of command. The “we will rise” argument is a pathetic macho fantasy.

    Even if the US were to fall into a state of civil war and a tyrannical government were to lose the gun nuts are unlikely to be the victors. Other people do have supply lines, planning resources and chains of command: the Bloods, the Crips, the Mafia, the Triads etc. It’d be nice for you living under that lot.

  2. Kathy

     /  January 17, 2013

    Come to the north ‘burbs of Houston, Doc. Lots of people here associated with the Secession Movement are protesting outside post offices and the like with Obama/Hitler posters. Free speech may be a right but good taste apparently isn’t!

  3. Silly me! I thought being apoplectic about even the most basic measures like, “…better control of the firearms trade, want military-style weapons off the market, and would like to see far fewer than 30,000 gun deaths a year…” was obviously logically inconsistent with being anti-abortion. Now that I understand how the crazy works, I stand sickeningly corrected.

    From Rush Limbaugh: “You know how to stop abortion? Require that each one occur with a gun.”

  4. I like that you pointed out briefly how little civilian firearms would do in a supposed civil war against a dictatorship. You want to keep the weapons that get used so much to kill innocent people in case you have to fight the government? Then show me how you’re going to use them to shoot down a UAV, stop a tank, or destroy an aircraft carrier. Will they do anything against military satellites? What about that massive nuclear arsenal of ours? Going to be hard to communicate when their cellphones are either used to track or shut down completely and the places with the most of these secessionists/sovereign citizens/gun nuts types don’t get very good internet service when they aren’t in a state of civil war. Heck, for some of those types writing and reading notes would be a challenge.

    But that’s ok, they’ll just stick it out. Maybe they’ll get lucky and be able to hunt enough wild game to feed their little army. Not like the other side with its worldwide logistics. If they can’t hunt for their food, then they’ll have to either pay for it or steal it. If anyone will sell to them at all, they’ll charge enough that they’ll wish they were only paying taxes on it. Their overlords in some of the corporations that actually grow food might sell too. Probably all the crappy stuff that doesn’t meet FDA regulations. You know, Teddy Roosevelt created the FDA in part because he remembered how the food killed more soldiers than the Spanish during the Spanish American War. Wonder if that might be relevant at all to this.

    I like a good fantasy too, but I don’t let it interfere with politics.

  5. armondikov

     /  January 21, 2013

    I doubt that many of the people making the Nazi comparison would even recognise tyranny if they saw it (wrapped in the flag, carrying the Bible, and all that) and so wouldn’t fight the tyranny even if they were suitably armed for it. They simply don’t like not getting their way, because they’re – frankly – just a bunch of immature fucks. You see the politicians stalling and wrecking perfectly serviceable and positive legislation just as revenge, they threaten a country with crippling financial problems, all because they don’t get their way. Is it any wonder than the people who support those politicians think the same, but are willing to threaten violence over it? It’s what little children (badly trained ones, at least) do for attention, and that’s all they’re doing.

    It all comes down to the fact that someone they didn’t vote for is in the White House, even if the majority *did* vote for him, and they can’t grow up and accept it. The latest bullshit over guns is just a symptom of that, rather than its own thing.

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