One of the reasons I get so worked up about gun rights wingnuts is the connection so many of them draw between owning guns and protecting themselves from government tyranny.
Especially odd, I think, is the notion that the Federalists — reacting to the weakness of the Articles of Confederation — created a more powerful federal system and then, with the 2nd Amendment, immediately undercut everything they’d just done by creating an expansive right to own all manner of weaponry without regulation for the purpose of undermining (and possibly overthrowing) a more powerful federal government.
Joshua Horwitz and Casey Anderson, in their Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, capture this bizarre way of thinking about the legitimate use or threat of violence in a democracy, as well as its consequences:
In light of the extensive work by political scientists on the conditions that are most conducive to democracy and freedom, the Insurrectionist insistence on the primacy of a link between the unfettered access to guns and political liberty is not only wrongheaded but dangerously counterproductive. The gun rights groups tell their members that they should participate in politics but only to maintain the political leverage needed to keep government in a condition of perpetual weakness. By insisting that the ability to use private force is the best check—and ultimately the only guarantee—against overreaching by the state, the Insurrectionist idea encourages the misconception that a well-maintained gun collection is a substitute for the hard work of citizenship in a democracy (162).
There are lots of fine reasons people might have for owning a gun; taking on the “tyrannical” federal government when you disagree with decisions that have been arrived at democratically isn’t one of those reasons.