Can we talk about the insurrectionist doctrine?

Posted: February 10, 2013 by socklessjoe in Conservatism, Funniest End of Civilization Evah, Liberal Fascism, Notes on the Revolution, You'll pry 'em from my cold dead hands

The title to this post means two things. I mean to say that I intent to talk about the insurrectionist doctrine, but also I mean to question whether it is wise to do so and how we might go about it when we must.

Debates about gun control often devolve into hunting and personal defense. These are both noble and worthy reasons to own firearms, but they immediately prompt questions of need. Do you “need” an AR-15 for hunting? It’s not really the choice weapon for most hunting circumstances. Do you need an AR-15 for home defense… eh, maybe. Surely they can be used in such a manner, but other weapons could too.

The fall-back argument for “need” is the insurrectionist doctrine. However, the insurrectionist doctrine is the rhetorical tactical nuke of gun control debates. You might win a few battles, but there’s fallout. Folks who have never considered the subject before find it rather disturbing that people might some day want to overthrow the government.

Case in point: Dick Durbin tried to trap Wayne LaPierre on this subject.

If you’re anything like me, you were yelling “yes!” at your screen in answer to Durbin’s question. Wayne LaPierre did two smart things. First he genuflected towards the history of the doctrine, then deflected Dick Durbin’s loaded question to talk about another need for effective weaponry, the situations where the government is not able to protect you.

As a practical matter, there are any number of “sh*t hits the fan” scenarios for which one would want to be sufficiently armed. As LaPierre explained, the government might not be available to help during a disaster, or civil unrest. As a matter of Constitutional philosophy though, the insurrectionist doctrine is still the underlying philosophical principle that the Second Amendment is designed to embody.

To the extent that we are forced to talk about the insurrectionist doctrine, it is important to follow LaPierre’s lead, moving from the concrete to the abstract, away from our present crises –both real and imagined– and towards a timeless principle.

In common conversation, we’re bad at that. I fully appreciate that some sort of SHTF scenario seems ever more likely given the direction we’re headed, but it’s important that we not give them impression that we’re stocking up for when the FEMA storm-troopers pound down our bunker doors while black helicopters hover overhead.

When confronted, how about this: “Things seem okay right now, but what about in 10 or 20 years?” (Safely outside of any time-frame where Obama would occupy the White House.)

The insurrectionist doctrine is most simply described as a final escape hatch from a tyrannical government. Upon closer inspection, it is a deterrent to that possibility. A well-armed populace ensures that a tyrant can not easily come to power. It is a critical check and balance on the accumulation of power in the hands of politicians just like the rest of the checks and balances in the Constitution.  It should actually reduce the likelihood of armed revolution.

Does it not make more sense to view the Second Amendment in this way? Would the founders set up an elaborate set of checks and balances and then say, “Oh yeah, and people should have guns. Because that would be awesome.” No, the Second Amendment fits neatly into the rest of the Constitutional balance. To think otherwise is to sell the founders seriously short.

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Comments
  1. Veeshir says:

    I reject your premise.

    ‘Need’ has nothing to do with it.

    • socklessjoe says:

      I agree that “need” is a trap.

      However, if you want to take a rights-based argument it’s a rather short one, and one that will eventually circle back to needs.

      There is a right to bear arms.
      Why?
      Because.
      Because why?
      Just because.
      Why do you need *those* arms. Can’t you exercise your right without a scary black gun?

      • Veeshir says:

        I refuse to allow my opponent to decide what’s okay to debate.

        Need has nothing to do with it. I don’t need a V-8 engine, you don’t need a 2500sqft house, you don’t need a 64 inch tv.

      • Why?

        Because there is a long recognized standard in western law that says that a free man needs no permisssion to be armed.

        When I’m asked why do I “need” it, I respond by asking why the inquisitor “needs” freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, or the ability to demand a warrant of “authorities” seeking to search their home.

        These things mark as a authorities unto ourselves, and demonstrate a clear boundary and limitation on the power of the state. As such, it is already ridiculous on its face to ask permission to exercise this right of the very entity meant to be held in check by it. We ALREADY have this backwards, and to cede more authority it clearly doesn’t have (there is no asterisk after the words “,,,shall not be infringed.”) is to guarantee a rapid decline from citizen to subject.

    • socklessjoe says:

      Yeah, that’s the black helicopter shit we need to avoid. That is the exact opposite of the right way to talk about things.

      • chad98036 says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only one saying that. God knows there is enough to criticize Obama, the Obama administration and the federal government in general on; we don’t need to be making up or buying into such obvious bullshit. A good general rule of thumb is that if someone claims that there is a massive conspiracy that only he knows about because only he has seen the secret binder, of which only one copy exists, which is normally kept locked in a secret subterranean vault, in a building that can’t be identified and he can’t provide correlated because it is so secret that the people working for the conspiracy don’t even know they are – there is a better than average (100%) chance that story was anally extracted.

  2. AndyN says:

    If your talking to a committed democrat, it might help to turn the question around on them…

    You believe that Bush stole the election in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. In 2008 if he had decided that he just wasn’t happy with the outcome of the election and was going to stay another 4 years, what would you have done about it? What could anybody have done about it? Get the Supreme Court or Congress to throw him out of office? Yes, I’m sure the USSC would have ruled against whatever rationale he used if it came to that, but as Andrew Jackson succinctly put it “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

    Perhaps it’s unwise to explain to leftists why they might want to maintain the option to arm themselves, but it’s pretty obviously the case that they’re more likely than conservatives to believe that their political opponents engage in corruption that can’t be cured at the ballot box.

  3. Veeshir says:

    Just to be clear,
    I refuse to defend my choices over issues of ‘need’ just as I refuse to defend myself when called a racist.

    Both are attempts to force me on the defensive without raising substantive points.

  4. jasonlovelace says:

    The NEED is Self-Defense. Period. Governments have no right to intrude on peoples’ lives, hence the “NEED” for effective self-defense.

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