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Dorner case shows folly of arming oneself to combat government

Some guardians of the 2nd Amendment cite the need to be prepared to fight off 'tyranny,' but it is a baseless rationale.

February 13, 2013|George Skelton | Capitol Journal
  • The right to bear arms certainly can be infringed, George Skelton writes. Above, a rally against a New Mexico gun control idea.
The right to bear arms certainly can be infringed, George Skelton writes.… (Luis Sanchez Saturno, The…)

SACRAMENTO — The nutty notion that a citizen can be heavily enough armed to fight off the government went up in smoke near Big Bear Lake.

This may sound crazy to most normal people, but there are some obsessed gun owners — although a minority, surely — who believe they need to arm themselves to perhaps combat government oppression.

One reader wrote recently that he supported gun control "as long as I'm armed as well as the police," whom he didn't trust and felt he needed to be prepared to battle in a shootout.

I get those emails all the time.

In one recent column, I reprinted some words from a guy who wrote several years ago: "Guns are not for hunting. When will you people figure that out? Guns are for hunting down politicians when they steal your rights away through tyranny. Hello!…

"You can't protect your freedom when the government has more guns than the people."

To which Jeffrey replied: "While the tone of the message you received … may have given you pause, his words themselves should not have.... The [purpose of the] 2nd Amendment is to enable 'the people' … to protect themselves against government tyranny."

From John, referring to the 2nd Amendment: "We have that right, primarily, so we can defend ourselves against the tyranny of government. The Constitution didn't provide for gun ownership so we could shoot turkeys at Thanksgiving.

"I used to think of 2nd Amendment people as 'gun nuts.' Now I believe they are right. The more the executive branch continues to legislate and usurp the powers of Congress, the more I understand the reasoning behind the 2nd Amendment."

Then there are the right-wing racists, like Pam:

"When that redistributionist Marxist [deleted] Obama decides to take away decent people's homes and businesses and give them to the black criminal gangbangers, the garbage illegal aliens [deleted] and the rest of the low information welfare/food stamp crowd who voted for him, we who have our guns can meet them at the door, loaded and ready."

And there are many like Bryan, who asked: "What if the German Jews had been well armed" against Hitler?

My answer: They would have been slaughtered by the Nazi Panzer divisions.

The French and Poles were well armed. How'd that work out?

But, insisted Tom, "throughout world history, superior armies with superior fire power have been defeated by well-motivated forces with little more than small arms."

OK, enough. Suffice that too many people think that private citizens should be sufficiently armed to take on not only the local police, but the Army, the Navy, the Marines and even the Air Force.

They hang onto the words in the 2nd Amendment about the people's right to bear arms "being necessary to the security of a free state," but ignore the part about the militia being "well regulated."

I'm certainly no constitutional lawyer, but it should be obvious to everyone by now that the right to bear arms can be "infringed." We're not allowed to bear bazookas. Or machine guns. No automatic rifles. What's mainly at issue these days are semi-automatics — so-called assault weapons — and mega-magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

As of this writing, it's not clear what suspected killer Christopher Dorner had in his arsenal. But it was enough to hold off law enforcement in Tuesday's shootout until someone upped the firepower, literally, by lobbying incendiary tear gas into the cabin where the axed cop apparently was making a last stand against the government.

The government virtually always wins.

Dorner could have read up on Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge. Or the Branch Davidians near Waco.

Or Jeff Davis of Virginia. There's an excellent movie out about that called "Lincoln." Davis' rebels failed to fight off northern "tyranny" — and back then the U.S. government didn't have tanks or drones, let alone ballistic missiles.

Yes, the 2nd Amendment was written by patriots who did successfully rebel against the tyranny of a foreign power. But neither Washington, D.C., nor the LAPD is a foreign power. Americans are not going to permit Uzi-armed citizens to rebel against their country, regardless of any "tyranny" some disgruntled misfits might perceive.

We hire cops to protect us against criminals and crazies. The idea that we should allow citizens to be as well armed as the police — and, unfortunately, too many are armed better — is simply idiotic.

That doesn't mean a few cops aren't corrupt, don't act like thugs or aren't clueless — like the L.A. police who shot at two female paper deliverers, hitting one 71-year-old twice in the back. But that calls for firing, not armed citizen rebellion.

All those tens of millions of high-powered weapons out there — stacked in arsenals to fight off tyranny — are available for criminals to steal or to be wielded by nut jobs, like Dorner.

The citizens' militia needs to be better regulated.

Guns for hunting turkeys and skeet shooting, yes.

Guns for protection against bad guys, sure.

Guns to overthrow tyranny, irrational. That's why our founders gave us the ballot box.

george.skelton@latimes.com

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