Chris Dorner, A True Second Amendment American Hero
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants-xx. This quote is not directed toward the US government which I fully support 100%. This is toward the LAPD who can not monitor itself. The consent decree should not have been lifted, ever." - Christopher Dorner, Manifesto, 2013
"Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny." - N.R.A. Spokesman Wayne LaPierre, to Sen. Dick Durbin, D. Ill., 1/30/13
A deranged former L.A. police officer, Christopher Dorner, began a shooting rampage in Southern California last month. The rampage ended with his death this past week, apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, in a cabin that was torched by officers of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.
The Sheriff, John McMahon, understandably hoping to minimize liability to the building's owner, to downgrade a potential claim for gross negligence or willful indifference to simple negligence, said that the fire was accidentally started by pyrotechnic tear gas canisters shot into the building to flush Dorner out into the open. Whatever.
The most striking fact about this whole incident is how Dorner, confronting what he considered to be a tyrannical Los Angeles Police Department, chose the very same Second Amendment solution for dealing with tyrants as N.R.A. spokesman Wayne LaPierre extolled in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30th, through shedding the blood of a "patriot" like himself and the LAPD "tyrants" who fired him from the force.
Dorner's timing could not have been better for exemplifying the N.R.A.'s perverse rationale for opposing an assault weapons ban. LaPierre was spewing his paranoid Second Amendment inanities to the Senators at the very same time that Dorner was shooting and killing his way across Southern California in his own personal Second Amendment stand against what he perceived to be the official tyranny of his former public employer.
I cannot and do not justify Dorner's rage-fueled, violent reaction to his firing or to the LAPD's ongoing civil rights abuses as perceived by Dorner, no decent person in his right mind could do so. But the words of gun rights advocates all across America about needing assault weapons to combat "tyranny," as crystallized by LaPierre's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, purport to do just that.
Tyranny is always defined by those who feel themselves to be victimized and aggrieved by perceived abuses of official power, and that is precisely how Dorner described his motivation, seeing himself as a patriot shedding his blood in mortal combat with that of the "tyrants" within the LAPD. His rage was fueled by his perception of official indifference to what was in fact an abuse of power by the Los Angeles police, the beating of Rodney King and other black victims.
That beating was not an isolated incident, but it was an iconic one, and Dorner was reacting to the lifting of a consent decree issued against the LAPD and the promotion of police officers who had been implicated in gross civil rights violations. In Dorner's words:
"Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name. The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command staff, and executive positions."
I cannot and do not claim to know that everything Dorner alleged in his incoherent, rambling screed was in fact true of the LAPD, and that is not the point being made here. The sorry fact, however, is that police civil rights abuses do still occur in municipalities all across America, but that is really beside the point here.
The issue is not whether Dorner's allegations against the LAPD are in fact true or are just the ravings of a personally aggrieved, paranoid malcontent. The issue is whether Dorner's reaction was justified in light of what he subjectively perceived and referred to as the official tyranny of the LAPD, because that reaction was the very same Second Amendment solution which the N.R.A. and gun rights advocates are pitching as a reason why they should have the right to own military style assault weapons to resist :tyranny."
To say that does not in any way justify how Dorner took it upon himself to combat his perception of the tyrannical policies he claimed were implemented by the LAPD. To the contrary, it is merely to point out that Dorner's killing rampage against the police was fully consistent with the N.R.A.'s Second Amendment rhetoric about individuals taking up arms to combat "tyranny." That is what N.R.A. spokesman expressly stated to the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington last month, while Dorner was in fact putting that rhetoric into action in California.
Therefore, to anyone who subscribes to the N.R.A.'s paranoid and perverse reading of the Constitution, Dorner has to be an American hero. Applying the rationale given by the N.R.A. for private ownership of assault weapons as a defense against "tyranny," Dorner is unquestionably a true Second Amendment hero well within the scope of the inane rhetoric of Mr. LaPierre.
America is in no danger of being overrun by foreign troops. We have never even been seriously threatened by a foreign invasion since the War of 1812, while our troops have invaded other countries repeatedly, throughout the world, during the 19th and 20th Centuries.
We are truly "Fortress America," because any major power capable of mustering an army capable of invading our shores would have to cross either the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean to get here. We also have a large nuclear arsenal to deter any such invasion. Therefore, the N.R.A.'s concern about tyranny clearly cannot be focussed on any realistic threat of some foreign power invading America and imposing martial law here.
We were attacked by civilian terrorists in September 2001 who crashed a jet liner into an office building complex, killing some 3000 American civilians. We may remain vulnerable to that kind of foreign attack, but no amount of assault weapons in the hands of the Sons of Liberty can defend against that kind of invasion.
So, the conclusion is inescapable. What LaPierre and his fellow gun nuts mean when they refer to fighting against "tyranny" with their cherished assault weapons is fighting against their fellow Americans in uniform, the United States Army, the National Guard or the local police just as Dorner was doing while LaPierre was testifying in Congress about the Constitutional right bear arms in resistance to tyranny.
Sure, LaPierre tried to soft-pedal his Second Amendment tripe about assault weapons by saying how the authorities cannot defend us against the marauding hordes of "those" people, so we need to defend ourselves with guns, but that scenario isn't really fighting tyranny. That scenario is anarchy. .
The only real difference between LaPierre's vision of the Second Amendment and Dorner's putting that vision into action is who feels victimized by the perceived official tyranny, and what the specific grievance is. With the N.R.A. gun maniacs, the militia crazies and the survivalists, it is "big government" in general that wants to take away their guns. They need their guns to resist the government trying to taking away their guns, you see.
That kind of reasoning is what in fact leads to anarchy, where individuals believe they have the right to take up arms against the government for whatever official policies they view as tyrannically abusive. With Dorner, it was police civil rights abuses. With the Tea Party right wing, it might be "confiscatory taxes," or immigration, or religious freedom or whatever the reactionary grievance du jour might be.
Recently, Sandwich resident Jim Rogers wrote a letter to the Cape Cod times referring to my support of Falmouth's two municipal wind turbines as being "tyranny of the majority." Now, I am certain that Mr. Rogers would never consider taking up arms against me or other members of Falmouth Town Meeting should we tyrannically vote not to remove those turbines in April, but there may be others sharing his viewpoint who would.
Indeed, the anti-wind hysterics here in Falmouth have publicly called our municipal wind turbines a violation of "human rights." For any such overwrought individual to snap as Dorner did and then take it upon himself to resist such tyranny with firearms would be wholly in keeping with the N.R.A.s rationale for private ownership of assault weapons as articulated by Wayne LaPierre in his reply to Senator Durbin last month. That is so because tyranny, like beauty, exists in the eye of the beholder.
Again, whatever your position may be on the substantive issue of police brutality and civil rights violations, you have to agree that Christopher Dorner is a true American hero within the N.R.A.'s Second Amendment vision. He was clearly taking up arms to resist tyranny as he perceived it, and the right-wing gun nuts don't offer any more specific or objective qualification for what tyranny means that might exclude Dorner's subjective and personalized rampage against the tyranny of police civil rights abuses by the LAPD.
The kind of officially condoned police abuses that Dorner believed to be true of the LAPD, if proven, would surely fall within the meaning of "tyranny" to anyone with a basic sense of decency, but any decent person would also be horrified by the Second Amendment solution that he chose for resisting that tyranny. That, however, is the very same solution that LaPierre and the N.R.A. advocate in their justification for private ownership of assault weapons, where they leave it up to the individual to determine when official "tyranny" requires armed resistance,and it is therefore well beyond the pale of any rational or even decent political consideration..