Dem congressman: Government can always nuke resistant gun-owners

Back in May, House Democrat Eric Swalwell of California authored an op-ed for USA Today that argues for federal confiscation, and an Australian-style "buyback," of "assault weapons" in America (which, even when accounting for murders by weapons "misclassified" as assault weapons, are used in fewer than 1% of homicides).  This would include weapons like the wildly popular AR-15, which millions of Americans own.

I hadn't heard about any of this until this week, when an incendiary tweet, in which he playfully suggests that the government might employ "nukes" if it ever had to go to war with a disgruntled citizenry, made headlines.  Such an idea might play well with Swalwell's constituents in the East Bay, but heralding and aligning this radical idea with Democrats nationwide could not have been helpful for Democrats seeking seats in America's heartland.

It's worth noting just how radical Swalwell's suggestion is.  He isn't arguing for a "ban" of sales or imports, in the vein of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, for example.  He is arguing for federal confiscation of millions of weapons that the federal government may arbitrarily deem too deadly for individual Americans to own. 

As should be clear to anyone, the prospect of such legislation implies two distinct outcomes.  Federal agents would be forced to physically visit Americans' homes to seize their weapons if they choose not to surrender or "sell" them to the government, and there will be a penalty of violence for a failure to comply.

Clearly understanding that, an American veteran suggested on Twitter that such a thing would be an incitement to "war," as he certainly wouldn't "give the gov[ernment] all the power."

Gun control advocates would argue that such a statement is radical, but it is, in fact, an honest and cogent framing of the argument, and perfectly in keeping with what the Founders intended when framing the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  The right to own firearms, uninfringed upon by a federal government explicitly forbidden to do so, is the paramount confirmation that power resides in the hands of the people, and not the hands of the government.

Apparently oblivious to the fact that millions of Americans, like our Founders, see our right to gun ownership in this way, Mr. Swalwell jokingly responded:

And it would be a short war, my friend.  The government has nukes.  Too many of them.  But they're legit.  I'm sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.

The blowback from American gun rights advocates was quick and fierce.  But the tweet should serve as more than just an example of an epic Twitter ratio.  There's a deeper lesson to be learned here. 

Let's break the tweet down to its two parts.

Firstly, the last sentence of the tweet offers the façade of an olive branch, but Swalwell has to know it's nothing of the sort.  Where is the middle ground, after all, between a government official demanding that your rifle, your rightful property under the Constitution, be confiscated (upon penalty of government violence if you do not comply) and a citizenry that will not accept that intrusion upon our rights, as clearly established and protected by our foundational contract with this government?  That's an unresolvable difference that makes common ground impossible. 

As such, we can conclude that the tweet's last sentence is meaningless, there only to provide the false perception of balance.  The core message of the tweet, however, is in what precedes it.  His reference to "nukes" is hyperbolic, but the tweet manages to express a belief that Americans will do whatever the hell the federal government wants them to, because the government has the muscle to make them do it – or to kill them for non-compliance with federal law.

Here's the most mind-boggling part of all this: he expresses that belief while simultaneously arguing that the federal government should infringe upon the rights of gun-owners and should confiscate and outlaw ownership of Americans' deadlier weapons, making them less capable of defending themselves against a ruling class that views itself as capable of forcing the citizenry to do whatever it deems best for them.

In short, Eric Swalwell accidentally makes a brilliant case for gun rights.  It's hard to imagine how the existence and exact purpose of the Second Amendment could be better justified, or why Americans' right to keep and bear arms must be protected at all costs.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.

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