It is often said that we need guns to guard against tyranny.

But consider this: Not all tyrannies are backed by guns. And guns may be the least effective way to thwart tyranny.

Our constitutional rights include the right to keep and bear arms, but our constitutional rights are not reducible to the Second Amendment. All power does not flow from the barrel of a gun. More than guns are needed to fight tyranny.

Second Amendment rights are secure. Americans will keep their guns, but gun ownership will do little to empower those who possess them.

For nearly 40 years, ordinary Americans have watched as corporations and their political allies restructured the economy to the advantage of a small minority while inflicting devastating economic setbacks on the majority.

Under intense economic pressure, Jane and Joe Citizen offer timorous resistance.

“We can live without a raise,” they agree. “We’ll even support the ‘Right to Work for Less.’

“No retirement? No problem. Cut Social Security and Medicare? Sure thing. But don’t touch our guns!”

Don’t worry. Our oppressors neither want nor need our guns. Guns do not threaten despots.

What tyrants demand is that we accept our fate as plebs in a permanent neoliberal power play. Awaken to our new horizon of diminished expectations.

Here’s a thought experiment to demonstrate the powerlessness of an armed citizenry: Try to imagine winning back, with a gun, everything that has been lost in the last generation due to the liberalization of the economy.

That’s right. We can’t do it, no matter how many guns we own.

Now picture this: A man, his gun and his economic insecurity. The gun is a perfect symbol of American impotence in the age of Viagra.

The tyranny we fear is already here and all of our guns did nothing to stop it.

Christopher McKinnon


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