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March 2, 2013

What exactly do you mean when you say tyranny?


That onlooker was Timothy McVeigh, who later said he hoped his 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building would spark a national revolt. McVeigh later said he’d considered assassinating Attorney General Janet Reno and others responsible for what he deemed “tyranny” in Waco.

Was the Waco siege “tyranny,” as defined by LaPierre, Stockman, Yoho, Angle, et al? More importantly, does the U.S. Constitution leave it up to individuals to decide what constitutes “tyranny?” McVeigh’s actions are the logical endpoint of this “constitutional right to fight tyranny” argument. And no, this isn’t “guilt by association,” it’s “guilt by echoing a psychopath’s dubious beliefs about the Bill of Rights without mulling their ramifications.”

Such arguments are what one might expect to hear in the might-makes-right hellscape of Afghanistan, or in post-revolutionary Libya, where the armaments and whims of each particular local militia determine which laws get enforced or ignored. In the United States, the Second Amendment shouldn’t be treated like some kind of trump card that We the People can wield against one another.

JUSTIN VERNOLD is a copy editor at The Daily Star. Contact him at

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