In the past, when a member of the United States Congress mentioned the “nuclear option,” it was a reference to a parliamentary maneuver by which the Senate majority party could do with a simple majority what would otherwise require clearing the more difficult hurdle of a three-fifths majority.
It was given that name due to the rather extreme and irrevocable nature of such a radical action.
But back in November, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) suggested something far more extreme and irrevocable than even that, when he warned that any war between the U.S. government and citizen gun owners would be “short” because, “The government has nukes.” He also noted, oddly, that America’s nuclear weapons are “legit” (whatever that means).
This astonishing threat occurred during an exchange on the social media platform Twitter, when a gun rights advocate told Swalwell that any government attempt to confiscate heretofore legally owned “assault weapons” would start a war between the government and the people.
The gun rights advocate was referring to Swalwell’s previously announced intention to introduce legislation that would not only ban private ownership of so-called “assault weapons,” but also empower the government to confiscate any that were not surrendered, and punish those who refused to comply. We talked about that in an earlier issue (ENEMY AT THE GATE, Say No to Gun “Buy Backs,” September 2018 S.W.A.T.).
At that time, I was sufficiently naive to be appalled that a member of Congress would publicly announce his intent to direct the federal government to rob American citizens of their legally acquired and owned semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifles.
Of course I knew he is far from the first public official to want the government to have that kind of power, but I wasn’t quite prepared for him to be so unashamed of his fantasy for a federal government whose mastery over the American people could never be effectively challenged to be so proud of it as to write a USA Today op-ed openly calling for it.
And now, we discover that he had not even really begun to reveal how far he was ready to go in his jihad against private gun ownership in the U.S.
It should be noted that, in the face of understandably blistering criticism of his suggestion that the U.S. government resort to nuking citizens who resist a mass confiscation of “assault weapons,” he quickly retreated—sort of. Here is his “explanation” (again on Twitter, this time in response to conservative author and Professor Tom Nichols):
Read the thread. That guy said he was going to go to war with America if someone banned assault weapons. I joked that he may not win that war. A joke Tom, can we not use sarcasm anymore?
Ah, I see. The idea of the U.S. government killing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of its own citizens, using weapons of such horrifying power that this same government has threatened to go to war to prevent certain other countries from possessing them is “funny” to Swalwell. He then elaborated: “I sarcastically point out USA isn’t losing to his assault weapon (it’s not the 18th Century).”
I suppose that by this he means the U.S. military is so powerful, even without the use of nuclear weapons, that citizens armed with AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles would not have a chance (and would indeed be defeated in “a short war”). But wait a second—I thought that the supposed justification for banning such arms was that these arms are “weapons of war,” and that as such, are too powerful and lethal to be entrusted to private citizens, and should instead be limited to soldiers for use on battlefields.
So which is it? Are they “weapons of war” of such terrifying capability as to justify making it a crime for a private citizen to own them (in utter defiance of Founder Tench Coxe’s insistence that “every terrible implement of the soldier” be the birthright of every American)?
Or are they of such negligible combat utility that going to war equipped with them is a ludicrous notion and if so, can he name a single military force on Earth that does not arm most of its combat soldiers with rifles?
Oh, and about that “short war” Swalwell promised. Perhaps he would be willing to explain how American servicemen and women are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, against enemies armed with little more than firearms and improvised explosive weapons (and American militias engaged in resistance to federal tyranny can make those, too) after 18 years? Perhaps Swalwell’s answer to the continued resistance in Afghanistan would be using nukes there too (but only “legit” ones).
Granted, the fighting in Afghanistan is not exactly what counterinsurgency warfare on American soil would be. For one thing, many servicemen and women would not be so easily persuaded that orders to turn the military’s real “weapons of war” on the American people would be legal and Constitutional.
For another, an armed resistance movement in America would have far easier access to the civilian leadership giving the military its tyrannical orders than the Taliban does (a point Swalwell should take particular care to consider). By the way, Swalwell is not short on ambition for his own personal power, either. At about the same time as the controversy over his “nukes” threat, he, as a guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, stated that he was considering running for the Presidency in 2020. Yes, a President who thinks it is “funny” to suggest that the federal government would use nuclear weapons to enforce its gun confiscation edicts.
The Second Amendment was written explicitly to protect the means of the American people to effectively resist tyrannical monsters like Eric Swalwell. And if he nukes all of us, over whom would he wield the power he so desperately craves?
A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denied that right. This inspired him to become active in gun rights advocacy.