The National Rifle Association (NRA) sells everything from its political agenda to its merchandise with a simple equation: more guns equal more freedom. The NRA steadfastly maintains that the 30,000 gun-related deaths with firearms in the United States every year are a small price to pay to guarantee freedom.
- Oliver Ellsworth, a drafter of the constitution, advocate for a strong federal government, and the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
When gun enthusiasts talk about "freedom," they have something specific in mind—freedom from government oppression. In their view, unfettered access to firearms is the key ingredient to protecting individual rights from overreaching by government. They argue that the only way to keep centralized authority in check is to ensure that individual citizens retain the capability to confront the government with force of arms. As NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has said, “The people have a right to take whatever measures necessary, including force, to abolish oppressive government.”
This idea, which we call “insurrectionism,” is part of a broader ideological perspective that opposes a strong, activist government in nearly all of its forms. Insurrectionist philosophy degrades the democratic values and institutions that protect all of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Gun lobby extremists have been perfectly willing to trample on any freedom that gets in the way of their pursuit of unrestricted private access to firearms (i.e., property rights, access to justice, freedom of information, public safety, etc.). This toxic mix of ideology and firepower has moved beyond rhetoric and resulted in real violence in our country.
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