02/21/2013 02:43 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2013

The Unpatriotic, Anti-American, NRA

The NRA argues, on the basis of two reasons, why everyone should be able to get assault-weapons:

(1) It's self-defense against law-breakers.

(2) It's self-defense against the United States Government if that becomes "tyrannical."

Both reasons ignore that a democratic government is supposed to determine, according to its laws, what constitutes "self defense," and also that in a democracy no individual citizen is supposed to have the final say in deciding that matter. Only the law can do that.

But what happens if the U.S. Government itself becomes "tyrannical" (such as the pro- "small government" NRA allege)? In a democracy, no individual citizen (regardless whether a member of the NRA) is supposed to have the final say in determining when and if the democracy has ended and tyranny has begun. That's supposed to be determined instead by organized and overt revolutionaries, adhering to the existing duly passed laws, just as happened in the American Revolution. They were no mob. The American way is the rule of law, not the rule of any mob, not even rule by an organized mob. Because a mob can easily be taken over and led by demagogues.

This is the country we are fortunate to live in. But it unfortunately has enemies who live amongst us, and the NRA will be shown here to be such: inimical to this country, inimical to its basic tradition.

What does the rule of law, versus mob-rule, really mean? This issue was hot before the American Revolution, and during it, and immediately after it. That's because this issue is, in fact, basic to any democracy. And here is what our Founders did about it:

Part of the greatness of John Adams, for which he felt the proudest until his dying day, was that in December 1770, he courageously chose to defend, in a colonial court, the British soldiers who were charged in "the Boston Massacre" trial. He was publicly excoriated for volunteering to defend, as a lawyer, those hated "Redcoats." His law practice dropped by half. But the jury ended up being sufficiently persuaded by his arguments and evidence, so that they acquitted six of the eight defendants. John Adams was defending there not really those soldiers, so much as he was defending the rule of law itself. He was representing the rule of law, against mob-rule; and those jurors concluded that mob-rule had been largely to blame for the massacre.

Of course, when John Adams did this, he wasn't a U.S. citizen arguing in a U.S. court; the Revolution had not yet happened. But in 1784, barely a year after the American Revolutionary War had ended in victory, Alexander Hamilton issued, as "Phocion," a "A Letter from Phocion to the Considerate Citizens of New York," in which he, too, argued against retribution being delivered to the British-loyalists who still remained here. He said: "Make it the interest of those citizens who during the Revolution were opposed to us to be friends to the new government by affording them not only protection but a participation in its privileges, and they will undoubtedly become its friends. ... There is not a single interest of the community but dictates moderation rather than violence." In court, and at great personal sacrifice, he successfully defended Loyalists who were being sued under the Trespass Act. This was a cardinal case in American jurisprudence, because it helped ultimately in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution itself; it helped to establish the rule of law, in the then still-emergent USA.

The American Revolution was a victory for the rule of law; it was a victory both against tyranny, and against mob-rule. That's our country.

The NRA, when it argues for unlimited public access to weapons, and for arming individuals against the government, opposes the rule of law, even while it cites the U.S. Constitution's 2nd Amendment as its basis for doing so. It argues that even assault weapons, which are designed and used for mass-killing of people, should be able to be obtained by anyone. That is ludicrous; it is an argument only for fools. It has no basis in the Constitution. The Constitution is consistent in establishing a government that has a monopoly on violence within its territory. Even the 2nd Amendment starts out with its purpose being, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state"; in other words: its purpose was and is the security of the government, and only that. No amount of lying propaganda can change this fact about the U.S. Constitution: The government is to possess a monopoly on the use of violence within its territory.

No democracy can exist under mob-rule. Rule by a mob can lead only to tyranny, never to a democracy. It can, in fact, destroy a democracy. But the NRA is basically arguing for the mob. That's what they do. Some mobs lynch. Others vandalize. None reflect democracy.

As Martin Durham wrote in his (2001) The Christian Right, the Far Right (p. 76), "At its 1995 conference, held shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, Wayne LaPierre formally apologised for calling BATF agents 'jack-booted government thugs.'" But, "Before the widespread creation of militias, NRA publications were already highly critical of the federal government over both the Weaver case and Waco. Furthermore, ... in 1981, [NRA board member] Neal Knox had produced an anti-gun-control film for the NRA in which a[nother] board member had described the BATF as 'a jack-booted group of fascists. ... The NRA, using 'rhetoric borrowed from militia groups', both were drawing from the same pool of anti-government sentiment, and it was the gun lobby, not the militias, that had first used the language."

The leaders of the NRA are proponents of personal violence, for personal ends; they are promoters of mob-rule. They are propagandists for extremism - not just for allowing anyone to get assault weapons. They are hypocritical propagandists against democracy. Being opponents of government only when their government happens to be actually a democratic one, they do not condemn fascist regimes such as Pinochet in Chile, or d"Aubuisson in El Salvador; they agree with fascists, who always love guns; the NRA leaders cloak their nefarious fascist propaganda as "defense of the U.S. Constitution," even though this lie is a superb example of the fascists' Big Lie technique, in action. That makes even worse their actual treachery. To be fooled by them is dangerous to the country, and is only for fools - fools who are a threat to everyone else, and an insult to the highest aspirations of America's Founders, those aspirations being for a peaceful democratic society, under the rule of law, not a violent society, in which each person is armed against each other and against his democratically elected government.

The Big Lie is promoted by a few Big Liars, but it would quickly fade if it were not supported by millions of little fools.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They"re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST"S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.