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How the Second Amendment really works

December 26, 2012 - Harry Eagar
A few weeks ago, when headlines announced a flap between Dick Armey and his pressure group FreedomWorks, I paid no attention. Such dustups among political fringists are common and usually insignificant.

Insignificant this one was, but it turns out that the sordid details were especially sordid and -- in light of the renewed push by gun nuts to offer themselves as saviors of the rest of the country -- well worth examining. Thanks to the Washington Post for washing Armey's dirty laundry in public.

Recall to begin that a main, in fact the principal argument of the nuts in favor of an armed populace is that only those privately armed citizens temper and, at need, resist the tyranny of government. They still say this although in over two centuries, these heroes never have resisted tyranny with force; first, because they have had no occasion to; and second, because in one instance when government troops were used to control a restive populace (the former Confederate states, 1865-76), the armed populace thought better of testing the bluecoats.

When the federal troops were withdrawn, the armed populace then did unleash a reign of terror against the people (one of whom was my grandfather), but when there was danger of actually getting shot by a soldier, they were timid and complaint.

So, if these numerous weapons are not being used to intimidate the anchors of state power, against whom are they being used? Most recently against unarmed young women working for the Tea Party pressure group FreedomWorks. Says the Post:

"The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

"Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news."

It could have been tragic rather than comic if Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the leading gun nut group, the National Rifle Association, were right in his belief that all American office buildings are protected by armed guards. Who can say what the outcome would have been had FreedomWorks or its landlord had an armed savior present -- perhaps someone like George Zimmerman, a zealot for protecting the defenseless public?

Fortunately for all concerned, LaPierre is a psychotically delusional paranoid crybaby, and no shots were fired. FreedomWorks was saved from the depredations of the armed nut, though. The Post reports:

"The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back."

I hope an imaginative District of Columbia prosecutor treats this as a kind of bizarre delayed-action armed robbery; or perhaps as extortion, and that Armey and his wife spend the rest of their lives behind bars; and that the young women they terrorized sue them for every ill-gotten penny they have. But I doubt that will happen.

I regret this terrific story was published on Christmas Day, because relatively few people will have taken the time to read it, but Christmas is over and I commend it to your attention now.

And henceforth, every time some gun nut asserts that without having guns freely available to citizens, people will be robbed and intimidated, save the link and remind him that when it came down to it, the people who were robbed and terrorized were employees of a rightwing nut pressure group, and that the terrorizers were not scary black men, or even liberals with long hair and chardonnay breath, but rightwing crazies.


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