At the Los Angeles Times, in a article calling for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment, Professor Timothy Waters writes:
Rights matter, and protecting rights carries costs. We need a real debate about our willingness to pay those costs. There is serious disagreement about whether guns protect liberty or threaten it — disagreement we don’t have when it comes to the value of voting or free assembly. That alone is reason enough to reconsider the 2nd Amendment.
He is right about the “real debate,” though he is wrong in his assumption that we’re not having that debate already—we are, even if it’s sometimes imperfect and flawed.
After every mass shooting in the United States, at least a few commentators and pundits—and sometimes a lot of them—come out in favor of repealing or radically attenuating the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. Progressives (and some nominally conservative individuals) frequently argue that the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to firearm ownership—a right that is meant, in part, to act as a civil check on government authority—is functionally useless, insofar as, the thinking goes, civilians with handguns and semiautomatic rifles could never hope to outmatch the full military power of the United States Armed Forces.
At the New York Times, author Michael Sherman, for one, writes: “If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional.”
Similarly, the Times’s newest “conservative” writer, Bret Stephens, wrote a column baldly titled: “Repeal the 2nd Amendment.” Stephens gives short shrift to “the idea that an armed citizenry is the ultimate check on the ambitions and encroachments of government power.” He calls this idea “curious,” citing, among other conflicts, the failed Whisky Rebellion as an example of the limits of civilian armament.
For the sake of argument, let us entertain the notion for a moment that these two men are correct—that the 2nd Amendment is nothing more than a useless, antiquated relic, one whose two-century-old guarantees are wholly unsuited to the world we live in today. As a good-faith gesture, I’ll posit this political opinion clearly and unambiguously: the 2nd Amendment is useless as a check on tyranny, because armed American citizens could never withstand the might of the United States Armed Forces.
For everyone who believes this, and who thus believes the 2nd Amendment (and individual firearm rights in general) should be repealed, I have a simple, easy-to-answer question. It’s not a trick question; it’s not rhetorical; it’s not a “gotcha.” It is an honest inquiry that deserves an honest answer. It is this:
If the United States government were taken over by dictators, fascists and/or totalitarians, and the government itself were weaponized against innocent American citizens, would you rather have a gun, or would you rather be disarmed?
This is not a gag question. It is a serious one. I have posed it to a number of pro-gun-control progressives over the past few years, and I have never gotten a straight answer. A journalist posed this question to the director of the Holocaust Research Institute, in the context of Nazi-mandated Jewish disarmament prior to the Holocaust, and the director flatly refused to answer it.
If we are going to have a “real debate” about the 2nd Amendment, this question should be answered by everyone who wishes to repeal it and who thinks civilian gun ownership is a bad idea. I invite everyone who feels this way to respond in the comments section below, and to explain your answer, whatever it may be.