"We have the best and the brightest and they have this," was the tweet that got my attention in response to last week's article on the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. I'm very hesitant to get into a war of words at 160 characters per minute - especially when the person on the other end is far more likely to have a cache of weaponry than the average Mom blogger or freelance writer. So I'll do it here, keep the tweet and bring some historical perspective to the flawed logic that drives the NRA underlying premise.
In this I refer to the distorted belief that the second amendment acts as a check against the emergence of a future dictatorship. We therefore sacrifice the lives of thousands of innocent Americans every year to senseless gun violence for the greater good.
It sounds rather quaint and even agreeable, and as proof to where an unarmed citizenry will lead, the NRA always trots out the example of Hitler, who confiscated all guns upon gaining power. Whether or not that can be verified anywhere, let's entertain a Germany in which the multitudes opted for a six shooter in their sweat pants over loaves of bread that were going for just around 6 million marks
In this corner, Nazis were ruthless, motivated, and most importantly, organized. The population is not and it wouldn't have mattered how many angry German cowboys were running around. They would have been wholly insufficient in the face of a force that was soon to bring Oktoberfest to most of Europe, Northern Africa and Russia.
Nonetheless, we can only speculate. A look at revolution in the real world is then in order, and if you've ever had your TV set pointed at the middle east, you know where I'm going. Public frustration reaches a critical mass, people take to the streets and the military refuses to fire on crowds to uphold a discredited system. I'm, of course, referring to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. (Sorry Arab Spring, this is a history lesson)
Even though I generally frown upon radical Islamic revolution, and it will probably put me on some terrorist watch list, I vividly remember Iranians armed with nothing but Koran's and burning American Flags to supplant the shah from his peacock and later stand down America for 444 days.
Maybe it's just the neighborhood. Otherwise, see Russia in 1917 and 1991, Nicaragua in 1979, Haiti and the Philippines in 1986, Eastern Europe in 1989 and even the French Revolution (before Robespierre got his hands on it).
Of course, Africa seems to have no shortage of gunplay to fuel armed conflicts that have gone on since the 1960s. So much for my premise, but then again there doesn't seem to be a happy ending anywhere within our attention span for this beleaguered continent.
Cuba would also qualify as a successful armed uprising but I'm certain that the NRA would forgo the free healthcare thing before citing this example in their cold dead hands.
On the other hand, the events of Tiananmen Square, point to an uprising that went down in flames without access to any firepower. Regardless, could a few angry students with guns have toppled the communist state between study breaks. That said, it's pretty safe to say that the shooting that mattered most - as a solitary student faced down a tank - came from a camera, and resulted in a fairly successful shift from strict communism to a better brand of Chinese Capitalism.
Conveniently, it might seem I'm leaving the NRA's favorite example out - the American Revolution. Sorry Wayne, the comparison that conjures such a blind allegiance does not equate to the dictatorship you're trying to prevent.
While representation in parliament was withheld, colonists all had the rights of Englishmen. In turn, there was freedom of the press, speech and religion, and most importantly, the right to assemble. So much so, George Washington could show up at the Continental Congress in full military garb to discuss whether revolution was the best course of action.
In this atmosphere, money and passions could be raised, and rebels could convene as an army was organized. Of course, they brought their guns but it's the organizational capabilities that mattered.
All would be absent in a dictatorship, and again, the number of free range right wingers with guns would matter little in wake of the most powerful military the world has ever seen. As a result, the NRA has us holding out and dying today for a scenario that is historically inaccurate.
At the same time, this underlying premise has the effect of completely cutting the NRA from the discussion and for the most part, prevents all of us from finding real solutions to the complicated issue of unnecessary gun violence. That's all I have to say about "this."