TIM JOSEPH: Do guns really keep us free from tyranny?


In an April 10, letter to the editor “Reader shares thoughts on gun control issue,” a local gentleman gave us his views on gun rights.

It was the usual NRA stuff which we have all heard a thousand times and the desperate tone of the letter may come from the growing unpopularity of the NRA’s denial that easy access to weapons of mass destruction has anything at all to do with the massacres we have been suffering in this country.

I only have space to comment on one piece of the ideology which opposes gun regulation, and that is the fantasy that guns keep us free from tyranny. The writer of the April 10 letter summed it up this way: “Without the 2nd Amendment the Bill of Rights is just ink on paper.” Case closed. But, really?

I was born in Manistee County and have lived here all my life. I have known a good number of folks who carry this fantasy around in their heads, and there is not one of them I would trust to defend my freedom against a tyrannical government. Quite to the contrary; I am sure that, not all, but a good number of them would be the first to deprive me of my life, liberty and property. In a time of social breakdown, under the influence of demagogues, or whatever nonsense they read on the internet that convinces them that “other” Americans are their enemies (and are we far from that right now?), what kind of vigilante mayhem might we see?

The problem with this armed-citizen-as-defender-of-liberty fantasy is that we all have such different ideas about what freedom, liberty and tyranny even are. I’m sure Klansmen believe they are fighting for freedom. We probably all know someone who believes that Social Security or public education or even paying taxes is government tyranny.

From my own viewpoint, I wonder where all the 2nd Amendment patriots were winter before last when citizens were being brutalized by heavily armed government agents and pipeline company thugs at Standing Rock. (You don’t agree? That’s my point.)

We all have every right and obligation to work and struggle peacefully for what we believe is right. But to take up arms against each other in the name of “freedom” is not some kind of righteous rebellion, it is civil war. Which is a very, very, very bad idea. Syria, anyone?

Tim Joseph


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