Many gun enthusiast and 2nd Amendment proponents say that guns are needed to defend against an oppressive government. (There are counterpoints to this view, but this is not the topic of this article.) This implies a revolution, a point at which a government becomes so oppressive that the people rise up and fight a civil war against the government and its military with the use of guns.
Hopefully, that day will never happen in our country. But there have been several countries where people have risen up against their oppressive governments in history, some recently. Some using violence and arms to fight against their governments. Some using restraint, peaceful protests organized through social networks.
However, there are a few examples where the people have risen up against what they perceived as an oppressive government, but the issue wasn’t just oppression but specifically income inequality. Two big examples of this were the French and the Russian Revolution.
A large factor in both the French and Russian Revolution was the lower and middle class being extremely dissatisfied by the disparities between the rich and powerful and the rest. The thought that revolution could happen again doesn’t seem to be on many peoples minds with the cause of income disparity. And yet oppressive governments, and the possibility of revolution is on a lot of the minds of those who want to protect the rights of gun owners.
The video “Wealth Inequality in America” (found on YouTube) describes what the distribution of wealth looks like in our country. One quote towards the end of video spells it out clearly. “The average worker needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO makes in one hour.”
Another site, MotherJones.com, in the article “It's the Inequality, Stupid“ describes it a different way. “A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.” And in another way from the same article, “The richest %10 control 2/3 of America’s wealth.”
TheAtlantic.com put it another way. In an article entitled “U.S. Income Inequality: It's Worse Today Than It Was in 1774”, they poignantly say this:
“Even if you use more conservatives measures of American income inequality from the Census Bureau, it still appears we were more of a middle-class society back when tri-corner hats were actually considered high fashion. “
Gun proponents like refer to our founding fathers, citing what they believe their desires for our country were originally. But what did they want when it comes to income equality?
“...the founding fathers evidently formed their ideas about democracy in a social context very different than our own, when distinctions of wealth simply weren't as sharp. It's possible they expected an equal society to remain considerably more equal than it is today.”
In a video on TedTalks.com, entitled “The Rise of the new global super rich,” Chrystia Freeland explains that even Warren Buffet is dissatisfied with the income inequality. She says “Buffett himself points out that in 1992, the combined wealth of the Forbes 400 list (400 richest Americans) was 300 Billion Dollars. Today, that figure has more than quintupled to 1.7 Trillion.” She then makes the point that wages for middle class workers has not quintupled, or even doubled, but stagnated, and in some cases actually dropped.
There are others who are specifically putting the idea of revolution and income inequality together.
“In 1904, on the eve of military defeat and the 1905 Revolution, Russian income inequality was middling by the standards of that era, and less severe than inequality has become today in such countries as China, the United States, and Russia itself.“
This means that modern day Russia, China, and yes, even the United States has a higher wealth disparity than was experienced by people in Russia leading up to their Revolution.
The argument to protect the rights to own guns in order to prevent a government from becoming oppressive, or an oppressive government from oppressing, could also be said to help the less privileged. But not by the use or posession of a lethal weapon, but simply maintaining or re-establishing income equality.
In an article on Forbes.com, “Could America's Wealth Gap Lead To A Revolt?” Dr. Dale Archer, says this:
“In some ways, last week’s fast food worker strikes and rallies affecting businesses like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Yum Brand’s Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC, demonstrate it already has. In 60 cities across the country, they were protesting the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour that keeps them in a chronic state of poverty, and demanding “a living wage” of twice that.”
The facts, however, are almost moot. Anyone can list facts, data, graphs. lists, etc... to prove their point. The only thing that matters in order to start a revolution is a perceived injustice, whether or not it’s actually true. This is not to say that inequality doesn’t exist, but points to the very easy solution...make people think you’re trying to help by simply showing that you are in fact helping, even if it’s just a little bit at first. Then “The People”, the people who vote, who pay taxes, who feel unequal, will feel that you (the politician) are at least beginning to help.
We spoke of our forefathers before. Let’s talk about another source many of our politicians and gun supporters look to. Our country, the wonderful United States of America, is not a theocracy, yet many of our politicians and voters say they believe in God, and the Christian Bible, a book that affects their politics. When we speak of income equality, it’s hard not to think about the poor and the less fortunate. Let’s see what the bible says about the poor or income equality.
Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.”
Deuteronomy 26:12 “When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.”
Leviticus 19:9-10 “'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”
1 Timothy 6:18 “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
James 1:27“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
But we’re not just talking about the poor, but specifically income equality. Specifically, the rich compared to others. What does the Bible have to say about that?
Jeremiah 22:13-17 "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the LORD.
Luke 3:11 “John answered, ‘the man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’"
Much has been said about what God hates, and what he punishes for. There have even been religious leaders in our country who have said that God punished our country with 9/11 because of the homosexuals, abortions, the ACLU, feminists, etc.. (YouTube.com video titled“ Falwell and Robertson on The 700 Club after 9/11“)
Perhaps this is a misreading of why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Let’s see what the bible actually says why God destroyed those cities.
Ezekiel 16:49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
It seems the writers of the Bible, or God, since the Old Testament and the New, have valued the less privileged and equated godliness with taking care of the poor. Even more, God punished cities, and one could argue, governments, who did not help the needy.
In a world where social media increases the ability to start and begin movements, peaceful or otherwise, politicians and the more fortunate alike should consider carefully how they treat all people and how they are paid and helped. One could say because it’s simply the right thing to do, but also, it seems, it’s very important to a loving, yet sometimes vengeful God. Or, if that argument doesn’t fly with your theology, keep in mind that the same people who are feeling disenfranchised, forgotten, used, ignored, and taken advantage of are the same people who are being given the right to obtain and use lethal weapons.
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