Americans are convinced that the constitution of the United States secures their right to own guns. This seems to be a misunderstanding occurring thanks to an unclear formulation by the founding fathers. Despite the veneration they experience in the U.S. (and despite being quite visionary in many respects), they were ultimately nothing but men of their time, unable to foreseee the developments which would make the mere posession of a weapon by individuals irrelevant when faced by a modern hi-tech military force.
It seems clear that the amendment is about the monopol of violence resting ultimately in the hands of the people, not the petty issue of owning lethal tools used to enforce the monopol. The interpretation that the constitution prevents the state from interfering with individuals’ posession of arms in any way is a rather transparently intentional misinterpretation of the amendment intended for stupid people. “Panem et circenses” is easily adaptable to american situation as “Arma et circenses”. The effect is the same. Appease them by letting them have their toys. It makes no difference in the monopol of power, in fact it makes rule even easier by providing another tool to pressure people into submission and conveniently distract from real issues.
In the real world, the second amendment is already invalidated. In order to respect not only the letter, but also the intent of the amendment, the citizens would have to be entitled to own the kind of weaponry the military owns. The amendment does not entitle Billy-Bob to keep his pa’s rifle to shoot ‘coons with, instead it intends to give him, as part of the people, the control of the power monopol (a frightening concept when you think about what Billy-Bob is like). What happens instead is that Billy-Bob himself is instrumental in invalidating the amendment, because by adhering to conservative groups he perceives as securing his right to a ‘coon massacre, he is also supporting a political movement which supports the military without questioning; the movement opposing the more liberal forces which attempt to actually exert a control over the military – as per the intent (not the letter) of the amendment.
With the current state of affairs, equipping the people to fight it’s own government if need be is clearly impossible. Contrary to the days of the american revolution, when a military was essentially just a group of men bearing arms which could be effectively opposed by the people bearing arms, military today consists of highly technological branches like airforce, armoured units, navy, logistics, intelligence and so on. The balance of power intended by the founding fathers is clearly impossible against such a formidable opponent, especially not by merely allowing Jim-Bob to own a machine gun. Even if laws allowed the posession of tanks, fighter jets, guided missiles and so on (which you’ll note it does not), no people could compete with the amount of money the state invests – on their behalf – into the military. Any number of people trying to violently oppose the military would be walking into a slaughter and their certain deaths. In modern day, owning a rifle doesn’t mean a thing. See Libya, where the revolution would have failed were it not for the foreign involvement leveling the field by largely disabling Gaddafi’s armoured units and airforce. See Syria, where a hated and corrupted régime with a weak and disintegrating army is still clinging on to power despite a massive uprising. Remember, we are talking about weak military forces equipped to the standards of the seventies, largely with obsolete soviet-era kit, not even remotely comparable to the US military. They lack all-seeing satellites, armed drones, precision-guided missiles and bombs… Nevertheless they are still capable of causing absolute carnage, with some 40000 dead since the beginning of the conflict.
If you want to see what you would be facing if you wanted to fight the U.S. government, look for some Apache helicopter footage from afghanistan, or something involving an A-10 warthog, or the airstrikes that the coalition forces like to end their contacts with the taliban with (be careful though, the footage is often absolutely disgusting). Your assault rifle would make no difference. Granted, a determined revolutionary force still has good chances of winning, but at what cost?
Let’s face it, the founding fathers were not that clever. In this instance at least they lacked the vision they otherwise had which would enable them to foresee the development, and they fell for a resounding and heroic metaphor of “bearing arms” instead of stating clearly and unmistakeably what they really meant by that. Instead of regarding them as a messianic group under a divine guidance, americans should rather try and see them as what they really were. All they did was implement progressive ideas and philosophies which were around at the time. They were experts on philosophy and society matters, but their ideas on military matters seem to have been somewhat shaky. They seem to have adhered to a romantic notion of the power of the people, and failed to show the vision they showed when introducing the system of checks and balances for the branches of government. Compared to that, wanting to solve the problem of control of the monopol of power by allowing people to own arms is rather unimaginative and incompetent.
So what should you do if you are concerned about the rights given to you by the second amendment? Exert your control over the military or the police. Don’t support people who support the military no matter what they do. Don’t act as if your military, of all the forces in the world, are immune against committing war crimes or otherwise misbehaving. Don’t support moves to give the police, military, goverment institutions, secret services and so on more powers than they absolutely need. Don’t allow yourself to be bought by lethal toys and fooled into supporting goals opposed to your interests. Owning a gun does provide a certain measure of protection for your freedom, but compared to the political control, it is a trifle. At any rate, the fact that the very people who are vocal for your right to own arms are the very same people who insist on “supporting the military” unconditionally (along with the government, provided it is ready to send the military into battle), even if the military are behaving inappropriately, should at least make you suspicious. They are a greater danger to your freedom than gun control.
Finally, even though it does not really belong here, I’d like to mention the argument that gun ownership provides a higher level of safety. With statistics showing at least tenfold rates in deaths due to gun violence compared to similar societies, one must wonder why this kind of argument is being used at all.