I keep a loaded handgun on my nightstand. I own other firearms, including a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle, a Russian surplus bolt-action rifle, and a muzzleloader. I’m a proud gun owner. But my thoughts on Adam Kokesh’s “Armed March” into Washington, D.C. are those of disdain and embarrassment at being associated with certain people because the population tends to generalize a group like gun owners solely based on the most vocal proponents of the Second Amendment.
Kokesh’s march is not only politically stupid, but also illegal. While I am a libertarian who appreciates civil disobedience, two groups of armed people, the marchers and the D.C. police forces converging, can lead to a confrontation that could lead to shots being fired and many being killed for one man’s self-aggrandizement. An event like this would have further implications; the people who tend to have less sense about them may view this as a watershed moment to take actions themselves against law enforcement in their areas- events which would have the potential to boil into civil war. At the very least, the politicians who work there and the media would paint a picture of gun owners as unstable and non-law abiding citizens and provide an impetus to push through legislation that would be much more deleterious to our rights than the recent legislation that was defeated.
In the recent days, I have heard Kokesh’s march referred to as similar in nature to the acts of civil disobedience and the demonstrations orchestrated by the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s. Rosa Parks merely refused to leave her seat; she didn’t have a loaded gun or seek to initiate conflict. Her point was made through peaceful non-compliance. Had the marchers in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 carried loaded guns, there would have been much more than fire hoses turned upon them.
I admit that we do not truly have Second Amendment rights, as the Founders intended, today. However, I will not go so far as to suggest that there is any reason whatsoever to hold such a controversial event. On the official event page for the event, there is talk of how this event could be a “Second American Revolution” and things such as that. Kokesh sees himself as a latter-day general or Founder, yet I don’t think he can even fathom how bad things had gotten in 1775 when the Revolution began militarily in earnest. While the tax rate is high, regulatory agencies are out of control, and our money, which many of us work to save, is being devalued, are there not political or economic solutions to these problems? I do not see troops being quartered in my home. I do not see the government aiding the indigenous population with weapons and money to destroy my community. I do not see armies walking amongst the general population in a role reserved for civil administration.
Seeking to fight the U.S. government through a confrontation, as some attendees would like to see happen, is not going to go over well. I see the comparisons to how insurgencies have defeated much greater forces and armies, especially in light of the American Revolution. To start with, it was a more level playing field at that point in history. While the Americans lacked a formal navy, they had manpower that often wielded a weapon superior to those the British carried in the Kentucky Rifle: the forerunner to today’s sniper rifles. What they lacked in leadership and strategic thinking, they made up for with the use of attrition and light-infantry tactics, especially in the south where Colonel Francis Marion harassed Cornwallis’s troops and bought time for Greene and Morgan to fight significant set-piece battles that eventually led to the decisive victory at Yorktown.
The concept that a conflict between American citizens armed merely with rifles and whatever improvised devices they could conceive and the American military and law enforcement agencies armed with a modern navy, air force, armored divisions, and artillery would be easy is an idealized fantasy. It would last for many years with great casualties on both sides and many civilians would needlessly die.
If Kokesh or his followers want a war, they picked the wrong century to wage it in. As for me, let it not be said that I did nothing to warn against such a precipitous action. For the sake of other reasonable gun owners and the liberty movement as a whole, I hope this event does not take place. I value human life, regardless of whether it’s the life of a demonstrator, a member of the law enforcement community, or a tourist who had nothing to do with the demonstration that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.