Rebellion vs. Second Amendment

This letter is paid content. In the Lakeland Public Television debate between House 2B candidates in 2018, Representative Steve Green said exactly this:

“Hunting has nothing to do with our Second amendment. Our Second Amendment right; it’s the right that people have to defend themselves against an oppressive government should it ever come to that. That’s what the Second Amendment is about.”

Mr. Green was saying that people have a “right of rebellion” against our government. This is completely, absolutely, and dangerously wrong.

Here’s what the Second Amendment says, word for word:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

What our Constitution DOES NOT DO is enable citizens to take up arms against the government. The basic function of any constitution is to make political conflict a peaceful process, without recourse to force of arms. Change is enabled by the public policy process supported by majorities; change in the constitution itself is enabled by the amendment process supported by super-majorities. What flight of fancy imagines that the Founders would provide a violent alternative to the Constitution they knew would redress the grievances for which they fought a revolution?

Advocacy of insurrection against the government comes perilously close to sedition. Sedition is to conspire with others to overthrow the government. To act on those sentiments by force of arms is treason. In part, Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as “levying war against” the state and Federal governments of the United States. And treason can be punishable with long imprisonment or the death penalty (U.S. Code § 2381). Or Rebellion: “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States” (U.S. Code § 2383).

Unfortunately, there are many people these days who have means (military-style weapons) and motive (the false “right to revolution” extension of the Second Amendment) to commit lethal violence. It only takes a single unstable person, or a few persons, to wreak havoc on law-abiding citizens, as we have witnessed lately with the Wolverine Watchmen militia in Michigan plotting to kidnap the governor and killing police to set off a civil war, or the 17 year old, who killed two and wounded a third during the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. These people will likely feel the full force of the law come down upon them, and be put away for a very long time. If anyone thinks that Mr. Green’s flimsy interpretation of the Second Amendment will protect them from prosecution for armed rebellion, think again. The case will be open and shut: guilty as charged.

In Minnesota, our state Representatives and Senators take an oath to “support and defend” both our federal and state constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The taking of that oath assumes that our lawmakers understand what the Constitution really says.

I call on all our candidates in the 2020 election for the Minnesota legislature—Paul Utke and Alan Roy for the Senate District 2, Matthew Grossell and Jeremiah Liend for House District 2A, and Steve Green and David Suby for House District 2B—to publicly and clearly repudiate the bogus principle of “right to revolution.”

I do not want anyone—including Mr. Green, or any of our neighbors who may be associated with any unregulated militia—to be charged with incitement to rebellion or worse.

Let us all honor our Constitution and work within its processes to effect change that we desire. Peacefully.