Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland’s 8th District and a constitutional scholar, used the anniversary of the deadly Oklahoma City terror bombing to respond to claims from wacko Republicans that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to armed rebellion against the government. His staff issued these prepared marks on Wednesday, 28 years from when 168 people were killed in the bombing at the Murrah Federal Building. Raskin says many in the Republican Party misinterpret the Second Amendment in order to defend violent insurrection against the government and law enforcement. Here’s his response:
RASKIN: From the floor of the House of Representatives to Truth Social, my GOP colleagues routinely assert that the Second Amendment is about ‘the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary,’ that it was ‘designed purposefully to empower the people to be able to resist the force of tyranny used against them,’ and that it ‘has nothing to do with hunting, unless you’re talking about hunting tyrants, maybe.’
Before he murdered 168 people, including 19 children, Timothy McVeigh became obsessed with guns and pondered whether ‘we have to shed blood to reform the current system?’
But the pervasive, dangerous claim that a self-appointed minority of the people have a right to use deadly force against elected representatives or the police betrays the actual Constitution and twists the Second Amendment into a pretzel of logical absurdity which blocks our ability to respond to the nightmare of gun violence in our society.
Indeed, in a half-dozen different places, the Constitution treats ‘insurrection’ and ‘rebellion’ not as protected rights but as serious crimes against our government and people.
Plainly, Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 gives Congress the power to ‘provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ The Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4 further provides that the United States shall guarantee a republican form of government to the people and protect each state’s government and people ‘against Invasion and … domestic violence.’ (Emphasis added.)
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment actually disqualifies from future officeholding anyone who swears an oath to the Constitution and then engages in ‘insurrection or rebellion.’
When I have pointed out the Constitution’s comprehensive rejection of insurrectionary violence, my GOP colleagues proudly invoke Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame. This is amusing because Patrick Henry was, of course, an anti-Federalist who voted against the Constitution. His slogans tell us nothing about its meaning.
Make no mistake: the real Constitution rejects the right-wing fantasy that random bands of disgruntled armed citizens can claim the powers of the constitutional ‘Militia’ to commit violent acts against public officials.
The phony insurrectionary theory allows right-wing politicians to suggest that the mass destructive violence of January 6 was something other than criminal. But it was entirely criminal, and it opposed the Constitution in both letter and spirit.
The fanciful claim that the Second Amendment exists to allow armed groups to overthrow the government is the basis for the equally deranged claim that the people must have an arsenal equal to the government’s. But nothing in the Constitution guarantees any person a right to a military-style assault weapon, a tank or any other military-style weaponry.
“It is plain to see where former President Trump wants to take his movement now. But the rest of America must make it plain to Trump’s followers in Congress and all the extremist and insurrectionist groups how our Constitution works. They have no lawful right to overthrow our government or attack our police. That does not exist in the Second Amendment or anywhere else in our Constitution. We are governed by law.”
Raskin serves as the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. He led the second impeachment trial of Trump and served on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
4 thoughts on “Jamie Raskin’s brilliant response to Republican know-nothings on the matter of armed rebellion”
Wonderful read and I thank you for sharing.
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Thank you for the great article about Jamie Raskin putdown of the Republican Party’s theory of the right to armed rebellion as per the Second Amendment.
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Great article on this very sad day. Jamie Raskin should be given a medal along with all the J6 committee members. They have laid out the truth which has given Jack Smith the blueprint to conduct the DOJ investigations. Hats off to Jamie and Jack.
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Sadly, our national discourse has moved to a place beyond the law and decency. It would seem that the masses have come to accept an interpretation of the Constitution that places the individual over the group, even when it clearly works against the greater good. Law and intelligent debate will not solve this, in fact, both are now suspect in the eyes of the masses. Our only hope is a cultural shift away from the nonsense. Mencken suggested the same more than 100 years ago, however, this current environment would probably “shock the old [man] right out of [his] shoes,” to use a line from The Band.