The CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association is quoted as saying "The guys with the guns make the rules." It wasn't a statement about the philosophy of our Founding Fathers. It was a threat, leveled against our politicians and the American people. It was his way of claiming that the NRA and their followers had the political muscle and the lethal arms necessary to bully their way into our laws and push their extremist pro-gun propaganda.
And his followers took it to heart, just as they do the other bumpersticker slogans of the NRA.
I am reminded of this when I read a recent post over at the Common Gunsense blog, where the author illustrates how extremist gun guys gather at Tea Party rallies, brandish assault rifles and pistols, and claim dominance where they have none, while the police looked the other way and media glamorized their violent message. A conservative pundit claimed that gun control advocates "cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns. (laughter) I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with." If these things aren't armed threats, I don't know what is. Could you imagine if people showed up at any other sort of event with weapons like that? A school play? A football game? A county fair? There would be outrage! And yet, for some bizarre reason, people are willing to accept it at political rallies.
Recently a gun guy with a concealed carry license infiltrated an Occupy Portland camp, and when the protestors objected to him filming inside their tents, he brandished his handgun at them in a direct threat of force, several times. Is this what the NRA CEO had in mind when he said "the guys with the guns make the rules?" Does this excuse the man from using his weapon to threaten people? A commenter at Common Gunsense seemed to think so, and even suggested the man should have baited the protesters into attacking him so he could shoot them.
Really, it boils down to the flawed "insurrectionist" interpretation of the Second Amendment. The NRA and their extremists think our Founding Fathers wrote the 2A not to provide for state-supervised militia armies, but rather to allow for common people to overthrow the government whenever they feel things aren't what they want! So they hide their fetish for guns behind this belief that only the threat of rebellion keeps our government from become a tyranny, or communism, or whatever. Like all bullies, they justify the use of fear and the threat of violence.
But our government isn't a tyranny, it's a democracy, and if a majority of citizens aren't pleased with their representatives, they get voted out. The Founding Fathers intended it to be a peaceful transition based on reason, not force, and actively put down rebellions in their time (like the Whiskey Rebellion).
Really, what the NRA and their extremist pals fear the most, like all bullies, is that peaceful protest and non-violent transition will negate the need for force and render moot their justifications for violent talk. Like the guy in Portland, they just can't handle the fact that peaceful protesters can change our government, making null and void the flawed insurrectionist argument. They mock our message of non-violence, try to smear it, and attempt to infiltrate it, but brandishing weapons and posting fake photos won't fool the American people into believing. Peace worked in the 70's with the hippie movement. It worked in India, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and other countries. It worked recently in Egypt and Tunisia. It's working in Jordan and Syria and Yemen. It works with every election in America. And it's working now with the Occupy movement. You don't need a gun to make a difference.
So, do "the guys with the guns make the rules?" No, not in a civilized nation, and we won't let them. We won't vote them into office. We won't listen to their lies. We'll call them out when they spout violence.