You might know this person: he or she has a few guns, strongly supports Second Amendment rights and distrusts the government. Part of the reason they have so many guns is that the government cannot be trusted — you’ll need their armed support to combat an authoritarian and tyrannical Washington one day. Two bumper stickers are neighbors on the rear of their forward-thinking, fuel-efficient Prius. One reads, “Support the Troops,” the other, “The right to bear arms is our only protection from government tyranny.” In this day and age, that job is better done by the First Amendment than the Second.
Let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Or should I say the 62-ton tank. The likelihood of a ragtag band of gun owners routing the U.S. military in small-arms combat is very small. The F-35, a combat aircraft you proudly support with tax dollars, has laser-guided munitions. The laser pointer on your handgun does not stand a chance. The idea that gun owners could collectively organize and complete a revolution against an American government with malicious intent is not only misguided in its intention, it’s ignorant in fact. I saw another bumper sticker the other day I think speaks to the mistaken idea at the center of gun owners against tyranny. It read “The Second Amendment: the Original Homeland Security.” All of these gun-loving bumper stickers make bold claims about training your average AR-15 owner. Times have changed. Weapons technology has evolved. The Second Amendment was written at a time when a militia, fewer in number but greater in spirit and conviction (and under the command of trained generals), bested the military of one of the most powerful empires.
The First Amendment is a bigger obstacle to tyranny than the Second — politics aside. Let’s talk military strategy. To wage an insurgency, the force fewer in number needs lots of people on their side. For that to happen, they need the crimes, usurpations and injustices perpetrated by the government to be displayed on the front page and on television screens. Having a gun isn’t as good as having 30 or 40 well-informed people voting against the government you would have been shooting at.
Before you take to the streets against a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, designed by your tax dollars to fight soft targets, like you would be, think about what you’re giving up for your gun. To vote for Second Amendment rights, while ignoring the constant glaring attacks against the First in the current political environment, is to fly the flag of the tyranny we all vow to oppose.
Stephan Chamberlin is a UF political science junior. His column comes out Tuesday and Thursday.