For those who think the 2nd Amendment is for defending us against a tyrannical government

Please-No Preemptive Strikes. Let those who this thread is addressed to answer freely.
My question for those who believe that one of the reasons the 2nd Amendment exists is to take up arms against an oppressive and/or tyrannical government is what would it take, as specifically as possible, for you to take up arms against the government?

Again, at least for a while, no mocking or speaking for the opposing side in order to denigrate them.

Sure, I’ll take a shot. Aside from personal protection I believe that one of the purposes of the Second Amendment to to give the people the means to overthrow a tyrannical government.

For me, personally, it’s been an abstract thought mostly along the lines of the French Underground in WWII. Then Trump threatened to deploy the military to suppress protesters and my first thought was that the time to take up arms. Now obviously, it never happened and my fat suburban ass had just sent off my hunting rifle to get a new trigger for hunting season so it was still mostly theoretical.

After that I guess I’d conclude that the time to to take up arms is the occupation by a hostile military force. I have no urge to rush off to Portland though so maybe there is a difference between a local domestic hostile force and an invading foreign army but I guess I won’t know until that happens.

Any sustained, illegal, de facto stripping of our rights as outlined in the constitution.

I don’t intend this as a strike, I merely want to sharpen and focus the debate.

I’d like a response to this article from the people who think the Second Amendment is about revolt:

In 1776, when the height of military technology was a musket and a cannon, both of which you could make by melting down church bells, there might have been something to it. When the contest was little more than numbers of guns you could drag through the woods, and how to play the weather, the government probably did need to worry a bit about insurrection – and that might have kept them a bit more honest.

However, the first time someone tried that kind of thing, it didn’t work out so well. In fact, Shays’ Rebellion just led to Constitutional tweaks to make the federal government that much stronger. The Civil War led to even more, with harsher consequences.


[Imagine there was a current need to revolt.] We managed to preserve our right to keep military grade rifles and machine guns, so we all muster down on the Town Common with our guns. We tried voting. We tried protesting. This is a reasonable time to start with the armed insurrection stuff.

So, you, me, all our neighbors, hell our entire city builds a perimeter around it. We fill sandbags, we all have ammunition, we all have food, water, supplies, and most importantly, we are all unified and in complete solidarity.

And we stand there, resisting whatever it is the government was going to do to us.

And then they fly over with one jet, dropping one FAE bomb, and roll in with three tanks, and in about 12 hours, our “resistance” is reduced to a few smoking holes. The Tree of Liberty will get its manure all right, but it will be the manure that you shat out as you ran for cover, as long range artillery rains down on our town, as we get carpet bombed from 35,000 feet, and as the sky goes black with drones and cruise missiles.

We’re screwed.

Final point:

Do you think for a moment that you, living in some apartment in Salt Lake City, or a house in Wyoming, or a condo in Boca Raton, would be ready to go to war with the Federal Government over the same shit that would get the Koch Brothers to fuel up their private stock of A10 Warthogs? Really?

Because you know what the billionaires want the government to stop doing? They want it to get out of the way of their becoming trillionaires. If you think that the Second Amendment means what the Supreme Court said in Heller, and you believe that is a good thing, because it gives you the ability to resist the government, you might want to play out the long game in your head. The long game here is this interpretation leads to private armies, raised by limitless wealth, all of which looks at our quaint little republican form of government as nothing more than a paper justification to have a flag waving over a few national parks.

I don’t particularly love the federal government either, but ultimately, it is the only organization that we have where we can even hope to band together with enough authority to avoid being under the rule of the richest local family. Yeah, in large part, we’re there already. But, at least we still have some veneer of a republic.

I agree with the parts I quoted. I’m not particularly interested in the parts I didn’t.

IIRC, Malaparte’s Coup d’État identified, as an effective way to resist, a general strike. But perhaps that requires even more widespread commitment than a “well-regulated militia”.

A revolution or an insurrection is likely to lead to a civil war. A civil war is a war, and will probably be an especially horrible example of a generally horrible business. So we can look to general principles of “just war” theory, one of which is that a just war should be a last resort.

I very sincerely hope–and am even cautiously optimistic–that the elections in November will remove Trump from power, perhaps with at least some (maybe many) of his most reckless and feckless enablers in Congress.

If elections were no longer an option–if they were outright cancelled (including being “postponed” “for the duration of the emergency”) or if the process were so completely corrupted as to be meaningless (that is, even if most people in reality voted against “the regime”, it would still be reported that the Glorious Leader won re-election by a landslide)–then it would be time to go beyond the ordinary political process. Even then, there are things between “voting” (and “normal” demonstrations) and armed revolution–truly enormous mass demonstrations (hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets of the capital city); a “general strike” which shuts down all economic activity; and so forth. Think of the peaceful “people power” revolutions like those seen in the Eastern Bloc in 1989.

But if some hypothetical American “regime” (having already cancelled or stolen elections) responded to such a bloodless attempted revolution like the Chinese regime did that same year in Tiananmen Square, then it would be time to start the very, very ugly business of resisting such a repressive and bloody-handed regime by force.

There is also, of course, the very difficult question of a government which is repressive, but maybe only to a minority of the population, and which actually wins the election. Again, just war theory will argue for war (armed violence) as a last resort, for proportionality, and also that war should only be attempted if there is a reasonable probability of success. In terms of their systematic deprivation of civil and political rights (which, after Reconstruction, had been explicitly guaranteed to them by the Constitution) African-Americans would have been morally quite justified in resorting to arms–except that in the end, they were able to achieve the overthrow of the Jim Crow system by mostly peaceful means, whereas an African-American armed insurrection would likely have been crushed by the more numerous and better equipped majority of the country. So, an armed insurrection against Jim Crow would not have been a “last resort” and it would not have had much likelihood of success.

The “probability of success” criterion would not, I think, apply to a minority which was facing actual genocide–in that case, even if the cause is hopeless, I would say you might as well take as many of the bastards with you as you can.

I just want to point out that the US military did none of that stuff to Iraqis or Afghans, so why does anyone think they’d be just fine doing it to fellow US citizens?

I suspect that the whole point of the thought exercise is to point out that any kind of attempt to impose the Federal government’s will on the people by military force would make the Iraq and Afghanistan insurgencies look like hippie love fests by comparison. It would be bloody, but it wouldn’t be the cakewalk that these people think it would be. It would be ugly, protracted guerrilla war, and there would be a HUGE chunk of the population that would be sympathetic, as well as probably no small number of military units.

And on that note, I’m not so sure the military would actually follow through on orders to bomb US civilians, unless there was a clear rebellion against lawful authority. And any insurrection to the point where your average person was taking up arms, would be one where there would be colossal questions as to what “lawful authority” is, and who wields that power.

Personally, if the federal government denies the states a republican form of government I think that is cause to take up arms against that government.

But I also do not agree with the theory of incorporation underlying McDonald v. Chicago.


Why do some automatically assume it has to be the feds that are the oppressive and/or tyrannical government the people would have to go against?

Believe it or not, another post on this message board brought that incident to my attention earlier this month. I’m not personally sure under what circumstances I would rebel against a local or state government, or whether I would agree that the Second Amendment is suited for that purpose.


I like to think that if government hirelings arrived to drag me off to the camps, I’d be able and willing to take a couple of them out first.

Beyond that, it’d take something really serious for me to exercise my Second Amendment rights, like mandating a Covid-19 vaccine with Bill Gates tracking chips, or Trump demanding a recount.

It would have to be something pretty extreme for me. Like Holocaust-style death camps. Almost no other Constitutional rights being taken away would justify the 2nd-Amend. type of uprising, for me.

The feds are the solution to an oppressive and/or tyrannical local government. But if the federal government fails to do their job then it could be a reason to take up arms. That is for sufficiently large values of ‘oppressive’ and/or ‘tyrannical’, and those values are the real issue.

Could you elaborate on some specific examples of what that might be?

Just go down the list of the bill of rights and say “The government takes away…” without a constitutional amendment.

You’re thrown in jail for peaceably assembling.
Throws the members of press in jail for writing an unpopular piece of news.
Government goes door to door and confiscates guns.


Note, I’m not talking about one-off anecdotes, abuses by bad cops, “mistakes” or whatever. I’m talking about systematic abuses by decree. Basically the government would have to be completely corrupt and whole checks and balances system would have to be broken for this stuff to happen at a large scale.

Then I would take up arms.

Sure, a gross violation of the Bill of Rights should be the casus civil belli
As a patriot you’d have no option.

But TPTB will never put you, or you never put yourself, in a position where there is no option.

It’s called salami tactics demonstrated brilliantly in the link to the Yes, Prime Minister episode “The Grand Design” from the 1980s.

The theme has been picked up by others in the current American political climate

They start with unfunded mandates on issues you agree with.
Or extend existing laws/regulations that are accepted but on the cusp of unconstitutional.
Or tweak the civil rights of terrorists or ethnic, social or cultural groupings who bump against the prevailing social canon.

Your reaction is egregiously disproportionate to the offence. You are a reasonable/rational, that’s not what you do. It’s that last straw to break the camel’s back.

It’s insidious, and effective.

Totally agree that this is has been going on, and has been going on for a long time.

Nobody’s going to do anything about that, violently, because they don’t want to go down like a crazy mass shooter terrorist. Well, some will, but not enough to make any difference.

I’m not convinced that a casus belli won’t ever happen though. I’m not convinced there will never be a full-blown civil war II (tactics won’t be exactly the same obviously). I can’t say how far we away for it, but it is certainly closer than it’s ever been in my lifetime.

Not a gun owner but if the republicans steal another scotus seat I will be right on the verge.


The 2nd Amendment isn’t going to allow groups of rag tag individuals to overthrow an authoritarian government - certainly not one which has the full support of the armed forces and federal police power. Arming citizens alone can’t really do much to stop a tyrant.

Any protection against tyranny would probably begin with a secessionist movement. That’s where the arms come into play, but even then, it’s a long shot. But this scenario would be an example of firearms used collectively as a means of collective protection to defend a “state” that declares itself “free.”