The Second Amendment and the Right to Revolution

By John Payson

I was just reading your web page (it came up as a sociology ring random page). As a Second Amendment supporter, the first thing that caught my attention was the piece written by Bob Wilson: "More boring gun stuff...". While I disagree strongly with much of what you've written on the subject, I commend you greatly for having the courage to show opposing viewpoints. While I think the Second Amendment is crucial to the continuation of a free society , the First Amendment is no less crucial; I salute you for supporting its ideals.

In one of your pieces, you talk about the "Right of Revolution"; you find it absurd to think the Founding Fathers intended their new government to be overthrown. On that specific point I agree with you. I think they hoped their government would last.

I still think, however, that the Founding Fathers very much intended that people would retain the ability to overthrow the government if necessary. The hope was that THIS ABILITY would ensure that a government overthrow would never BECOME necessary.

To explain this, I'll pose a couple analogies. First of all, imagine that someone is trying to rape Mrs. Smith, who is armed and is also a martial arts expert. Consider two scenarios:

If it is stipulated that harm to Mrs. Smith is not acceptable, what action on her part is more likely to result in a dead rapist? Drawing the gun (a clearly visible deadly threat) or not (forcing her to use an invisible deadly threat)? I would argue that the framers believed that the open threat of overthrow by an armed populace would prevent those in power from doing anything that would prompt people to carry out that threat.

For the second analogy, consider the number of products you see with money-back guarantees. Do the manufacturers of those products offer the guarantees *for the purpose* of having people return the products? Obviously not. The purpose of the guarantees is to make the purchase "risk-free" for those who aren't sure if they want the product. Since these people will perceive less risk, they'll be more inclined to make the purchase.

Consider further that some reputable manufacturers offer "lifetime" guarantees. Do they offer such guarantees for the purpose of having people return their products months or years after sale? Again, the answer is clearly no--they do it to minimize returns by encouraging people to keep their products for another day, and another day, ad infinitum "risk-free". Were the guarantee to come to an end many buyers would return their products immediately for fear of being stuck with them. But as long as the right of return remains open, few buyers will feel a need to actually exercise it.

I would argue that the Second Amendment was created for the reasons indicated above. By making sure that both the government and the people knew that a tyrannical government could not stand, it both discouraged the government from opressing the people and encouraged the people to be patient with the government. Unfortunately, as the government is seeking to revoke its "return policy", many people who are dubious about the government are increasingly wary of being "stuck" with it. Only by ensuring everyone that the "Right of Revolution" will remain available can the government ensure that it never becomes necessary.