The massive display of force by local and federal authorities in their efforts to apprehend the Tsarnaev brothers (prime suspects in the bombing of the Boston marathon) may have had one completely unintended consequence – the debunking of the myth that is the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
As yet there are scant details of the arms borne by the Tsarnaevs – one of whom is now deceased, the other in hospital and unable to communicate – so we don’t know if the guns they carried were legal or not.
What is absolutely certain is that there is no way their arsenal – however big – provided any sort of a match for the collective might of the US authorities.
Why is this the end of the right to bear arms? Well, let’s look at the second amendment for a second, as ratified by the states:
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
The basic premise of the amendment is that guns should be kept and militias organised to protect “the security of a free state” – in other words, if the government gets too big for its boots, the people should be able to rise up and take back power.
Given the immense display of power in Boston the last few days, there is absolutely no way that any militia or any individual in the United States of America – in their right minds – could consider rising up and doing anything.
Like the Tsarnaevs, they would be crushed within hours.
Any doubts about that? Think again.
Authorities ordered businesses in Boston to stay closed. They shut down transport networks. Logan Airport operated under severe restrictions. They closed off Watertown for the whole day. They stopped and searched hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles and people.
Troops were put on the streets. Police officers, federal agents and SWAT teams searched properties and made house calls. The state had decided it wanted to apprehend these two, and no expense was spared.
When they did run into the brothers, late on Thursday night after the murder of an MIT police officer, they responded with massive violence. It’s fair to say the two brothers responded in kind, but with little discernible effect.
They may have killed four people and injured hundreds more, but faced by the state’s apparatus of violence they were without hope.
It’s worth noting that over 3,500 people have been killed by guns since the slaughter of innocent children – none of whom, presumably, were a threat to national security – at Sandy Hook, and yet nothing has changed, apart from the Obama administration getting a bloody nose as agun control measures were voted down.
Despite the lazy media attempts to shoehorn the brothers into the Islamic extremist corner, we know nothing of their motives yet.
Whatever the Tsarnaevs were, no doubt they would argue that they were “fighting” (for want of a better word to paraphrase the murder and maiming of innocents) for a better society – most likely against the tyranny of the state, real or imagined, and a view often shared by extreme right and left alike, not to mention religious groups.
But the idiotic notion that one man or a small group of men or women can hold the government of the United States of America to account died on a Boston street with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his corpse full of state-bought bullets and damaged by his own cheap bomb.
Despite the lockdown, despite thousands of people missing work, despite the university campuses closing down en masse, despite the terror that gripped the city, the authorities will still tell the people of Boston and the world that the end of this operation is a great day for freedom.
In their nation violently born of a frontier spirit, Americans need to realise is that they can only preserve that freedom – much of it already given away – is by fixing their inadequate, broken democracy.
Not by keeping an assault rifle in the garage and thinking Obama is afraid of you.