His question was whether or not the American populace would use the "reset button" guaranteed by the Second Amendment. In his words:
Do you expect the "reset button" to need to be used in our lifetimes?It's a good question. I recommend you read all the responses, and add your own if you feel like it. Here was my response:
I was recently discussing with someone the concept of the Second Amendment as the government's reset button. Ultimately a major reason it exists is so the populace cannot be prevented from being armed, or easily disarmed through registration or excess regulation for that matter, in case we must ever take back the government and start again if it gets out of hand or something akin to a coup happens and the imposters must be reckoned with.
Do you think this will ever be needed? In the next fifty years? Do you think it will still be possible after another fifty years of those who want as much power, and helplessness of the populace against it as much as possible, chipping away at or disregarding our ability to reset things back to sanity? How about contrarians; do you think the reset interpretation is erroneous or, even if not, will never be needed?
Do I expect it to be used? Yes. Will it be effective? I doubt it.There were several good responses, but I'd like to elaborate a little bit on the topic.
I think we've passed the point at which "using the reset button" would be useful.
Why do I think it will be used? Two recent posts come to mind. This one in which the Geek with a .45 posted from New Jersey: "The fact that things have gone so far south in some places that people actually feel compelled to move the fuck out should frighten the almighty piss out of you.
"Ten or fifteen years ago, I would’ve dismissed that notion, that people were relocating themselves for freedom within America as the wild rantings of a fringe lunatic, but today, I’m looking for a real estate agent."
And then this one from Publicola yesterday, detailing government insult upon outrage from which the majority shrugs and turns away.
Jefferson suggested a small armed rebellion every 20 years or so. We didn't take his advice. Our last one ended in 1865, and it was so devastating, I think it put us off rebellion entirely too long.
Government isn't "us" and hasn't been for a long, long time. It represents the people who run the Democrat and Republican Parties, and those who pay them the most. Government-run education has ensured that the end product coming out of our schools is uniformly ignorant of how the system is supposed to work, and it's done a damned good job of indoctrinating our children in the "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" philosophy, and the "if it feels good, do it" philosophy. Fifty-plus years of this has produced a very large, very ignorant, very apathetic population.
I think that "pressing the reset button" is going to happen, but all it's going to get some of us is a tighter collar and a heavier chain.
Still, Churchill said it best:
"You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory,
because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
I don't think you're going to see a widespread armed uprising. What you're going to see is individuals and small groups who've simply had enough arming and striking - and probably dying in the process. If you've read John Ross's Unintended Consequences you'll get the idea, but I don't expect anything like the level of response he writes of. Not enough people are pissed off enough to do that.
Of course the media will spin it as "lone deranged gun-nuts" or "anti-government militias," but if you pay attention you'll note an increase in the numbers over time.
Someone once wrote; "If you're not boiling mad, you've not been paying attention."
Mencken wrote: "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."
Note this post by Dodd Harris:
Say Goodbye To Your Right To Free SpeechYou'll recall, I was a bit perturbed about SCOTUS dodging the Silveira case last week, too.
Well, Spoons may have seen it coming, but I sure as hell didn't: The Supreme Court has upheld most of the provisions of McCain-Feingold, a law that the Court's own precedents marked out as blatantly unconstitutional.
I'd like to remind you of the recent Klamath Valley incidents in which the government denied water to farmers in order to protect an "endangered" fish. This drew a lot of media attention, because instead of affecting one person or one family, it affected everyone in the valley. But a lot of other incidents in which the rights of individuals are trampled on by government bureaucrats occur that fly under the media radar. Generally, government is treated by the media as a vast benevolent force (unless, of course, that same government is defeating an enemy totalitarian government or unseating a murderous tyrant - then it's eeeeeevil. - UPDATE, 10/23/2011: Unless there's a Democrat in the White House, that is. Then the media and the anti-war Left is A-OK with it. End edit.) Whatever actions that government takes for the benefit of an endangered species, or "for society" is more important than what it does to the people who are directly affected by these actions.
Oh, occasionally something really egregious will pique some reporter, and we'll get a "human interest" story that pisses off the few of us who are paying attention. Sometimes our ire will get the government to back off, claiming it was all a big misunderstanding or worse, the government doesn't back off at all. The recent incidents of Melvin Spaulding in Florida, George Norris in Texas, Dennis Pryslak in New Jersey, Stratford High School in South Carolina, and many others come to mind. Scroll through the archives of this site. There's probably at least one a week that will raise your blood pressure.
I've quoted Jefferson's letter to William Smith several times recently, but this part is the one I find most interesting:
Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.It seems, in the main, that we aren't informed at all, much less well. Lethargy? For the overwhelming majority, yes indeed.
Until it happens to you. Then you get pissed right quick, and wonder why nobody hears your side of the story.
I think a lot of people are getting fed up with ever-increasing government intrusion into our lives. With our ever-shrinking individual rights. More than one of Jay's respondents noted the apathy of the majority, though, and I agree. Government interferes lightly on a wholesale basis, but it does its really offensive intrusions strictly retail. So long as the majority gets its bread and circuses, it will remain content.
But not everyone.
I think one example of this is illustrated by this story from Greenwood, S.C. (hat tip to Ravenwood for the link):
Suspect in standoff claims self-defenseRead the whole story. Yes, these people were extreme. Killing two officers and then engaging in a gunfight with many more over 20 feet of property certainly is excessive.
One of the three family members charged with killing two Abbeville County officers said he was just defending his parents' home against something like the standoffs between federal agents and armed citizens in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.
Steven Bixby, 36, along with his 71-year-old mother Rita, were in court Tuesday for an arraignment on charges in Monday's standoff with police, but when a judge paused to track down the warrants against Steven Bixby, he spoke to reporters in the courtroom.
Bixby said he acted in self-defense because sheriff's Sgt. Danny Wilson, 37, tried to force his way into his parents' home along state Highway 72 just west of downtown Abbeville.
Authorities say Wilson did not have any arrest papers or warrants when he went to the home, he just went to talk to the family. Transportation Department workers widening the two-lane road in front of the Bixby home reported someone threatened them as they laid out survey stakes.
"If we can't be any freer than that in this country, I'd rather die," Bixby said.
But I don't think this is going to be an exceptional case as time goes on.
I think more and more individuals will be pressing the "RESET" button in the future.
With about the same effect.
UPDATE: I note that this piece has been linked from Wikipedia's "Gun Politics in the United States" entry with the notation:
An analogous popular saying of less eloquent modern day gun rights advocates is that the amendment is "the government's reset button"."Less eloquent"? Whoever made that entry is cordially invited to bite my left buttcheek. Check the sidebar. I've got eloquence in abundance.