Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment?

Remember, over the period from 1933 to 1945 the Nazi regime alone murdered approximately 12,000,000 people. In the United States, at our current rate of criminal homicide, it would take 695 years to kill as many people as the German government did in twelve. The Soviet Union? By one estimate between 1917 and 1987, that government killed approximately 62,000,000. Communist China? Between 1949 and 1987, 76,000,000. (Who knows how many since, with the Uyghurs and Hong Kong.)

Individuals kill retail. Governments do it wholesale. As 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in one of his best dissents:

All too many of the other great tragedies of history – Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few – were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

The residents of Hong Kong understand that now. And apparently some Americans are starting to grasp it, too.

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