I-Team: Gun Rights Protect Against Government Tyranny

Ed. Note: The national debate about gun violence and gun control has generated strong emotions on all sides following the recent tragedies in Connecticut and Colorado. Should Americans' Second Amendment rights be restricted in the interests of public safety, or is gun violence something that no law could curb? This is Part 3 of Guns of Nevada.

LAS VEGAS -- The spike in background checks and gun sales comes at a time when the U.S. Congress is considering new gun control laws in the wake of deadly mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.

Passionate defenders of the Second Amendment say that the ultimate reason our gun rights must be protected is so the public can defend itself against government tyranny.

If necessary, they would take up arms against the government.

"Generally thinking, in American history, they have been few and far between," said College of Southern Nevada history professor Michael Green in response to whether the government would come for citizens' guns.

Nevada Gun Poll Results

Green said armed rebellions against the U.S. government are rare occurrences. One that stands out is the Civil War, and even with a vast army, that didn't work out well for the rebels. Green agrees that the confiscation of guns by government is the event that could most likely spark an uprising, but said Americans have always lived with gun controls, even in the Wild West.

"Since the beginnings of American history, there have been gun control laws," he said. "Mostly local. And sometimes it was: Yes, you are required to have a gun, but you might be required to have only a certain kind of gun."

Dodge City, Kan., has a sign that reads: Turn in your guns.

Why did they fight the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz.? The Clantons wouldn't give up their guns. And Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were trying to run that town and they were determined.

Former police officer and gun rights advocate Randy Mackie said he thinks a rebellion is unlikely, but that gun rights could be the spark.

"Do I see it coming? No," Mackie said. "Is it possible? Yes."

"Actually the founders wrote the Second Amendment so the federal government wouldn't have a monopoly on military force.

"They sincerely believed and wanted a situation where literally the federal government wouldn't be able to muster a big enough standing army to oppose the body of the people. (Revolutionary) Patrick Henry said the ultimate goal is that every man be armed. They saw that as the best defense of the U.S. They have gotten away from that."

Gun control activist Brian Fadie said he favors tighter gun laws, but not confiscation. He said he thinks gun owners who think they could wage a guerilla war against the government are fooling themselves.

"They are promoting a scenario in which a tyrannical force takes over our government and is going to take your guns," Fadie said. "If that were to happen -- if a force were to take over our government -- what would they send to take your guns?

"Would they send an EPA agent, would they send a Department of Housing agent? No, they would send the military, the U.S. military. The most powerful fighting force on the planet. Now you are getting in to the range of having a personal arsenal in which you are able to defeat the most powerful fighting force on the planet. It would really get ridiculous pretty quickly."

Hopefully, it's a theory we never have to test.

Though an armed rebellion might sound far-fetched, U.S. troops have been questioned by their superiors in the past whether they would be willing to use force against American citizens, and if so, under what circumstances.

Mackie said one reason he and others oppose plans for greater background checks is that such a system might help the government put together a master list of all gun owners, as a step toward confiscation.


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