Democracy under fire: the rebels are heavily armed

Every Western democracy has extremists – individuals who believe in the worst forms of racism and xenophobia, or are committed to overthrowing a government by force. But the US is the only country that makes it easy for its extremists to arm themselves and build a stockpile of high-powered weapons.

As we reflect on the one-year mark of the rebellion at the Capitol, that day will be a true discussion about the role of politicians in inciting violence, the ugliness and chaos displayed by the rebels, and the danger of such an eventuality. Our democracy But we would like to name another threat that often goes unsaid: Extremists in America are heavily armed.

To begin, we now know that January 6th was an armed rebellion in itself, although we may never know exactly how many rioters carried firearms that day. In reviewing court dockets, we were able to identify at least 12 individuals allegedly linked to the January 6 events, who were arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with firearms offenses. These armed insurgents included several people carrying firearms to Capitol grounds during a scuffle with police, a man who traveled to DC with a cache of guns and ammunition and later Wrote about “putting a bullet” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head and arrested with a man 110-round drum magazine, This count does not include the four members of the militia group. Oath Keepers – now charged with conspiracy – who allegedly stored guns at a hotel across the Potomac River, which they called “Quick Reaction Forces” could storm the city if needed., or multiple members of Three-center militia- now accused of conspiracy-who discussed plans to bring several firearms to DC in the days before the rebellion

The uprising took place in our capitol, where gun laws are strict and open carrying is prohibited. The conspicuous use of guns in protests is far more common in the US. Everytown partnered with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) for the Gun Safety Support Fund Start tracking the presence of armed groups and individuals in demonstrations, and we have chronicled 610. more than Armed demonstrations in our country since the beginning of 2020. According to our research, the top actors in these performances represent an extreme authority: the Boogaloo Boys, the Three Percentors, the Proud Boys and the Allies. Of all the groups identified in armed demonstrations since January 2020, vast majority (81 percent) Right wing actor. And the recent trial of Kyle Rittenhouse – a rallying cry for many in the extreme right – demonstrated that guns and protests can be a volatile and dangerous combination.

This phenomenon is even more common when it comes to pro-Trump demonstrations, including the “Stop the Steel” event, which continues across the country. There are pro-Trump demonstrations four times as likely to engage armed protesters. we chronicled 110. more than Armed pro-Trump demonstrations in 2020 and 2021. Nearly half of these demonstrations were on legislative grounds—underlining the threat to our democratic institutions. But perhaps the most surprising thing is that Pro-Trump armed demonstrations have actually escalated in 2021 as compared to 2020.

The US capital is visible.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Guns in protests are not only tools to intimidate and suppress speech rights, they are also organizing tools for extremist groups. For years, the Right has parroted the National Rifle Association (NRA)’s unfounded conspiracy theories that, any day now, the government will be coming to take your guns. It doesn’t matter that every breathless prediction turns out to be false. It should come as no surprise that the first oath taken by members of the Oath Keepers, a militia organization whose members took part in the January 6 Uprising, is not”Obey any order to disarm the American people.,

Extremist groups also often adopt the insurgent doctrine of the Second Amendment, which states that the Second Amendment empowers armed groups to take whatever measures are necessary, including force, to overthrow an oppressive government. The theory is particularly dangerous when the same claims are made by those making baseless allegations of political opponents having an authoritarian agenda. as a participant in the right-wing convention Asked A few months ago, “This is tyranny. When do we get to use guns?” The audience cheered, “It’s not a joke. I’m not saying that. I mean, literally, where is the line? How many elections will they steal before we kill these people?”

The terrifying question the country must face is this: What happens when you combine years of conspiratorial rhetoric about guns, weak gun laws, and a new strain of conspiracy theories about a rigged election?

a recent survey Answering the question by the University of Chicago may help. Currently, 9 percent of Americans believed that “the use of force to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency is justified.” Nine percent of Americans are the equivalent of more than 21 million American adults. The more than 21 million Americans are willing to support a coup or rebellion to overthrow our democratically elected government.

And those millions have virtually unlimited access to the high-powered firearms in our country. For many in this group, January 6 is remembered as a day when the rebels did not go far enough. In the words of a militia member arrested in connection with his participation in the rebellion, via a text sent from the Capitol that day, “If we had guns, I would have guaranteed we would have killed 100 politicians.”

We need a full account of the January 6 attack on our seat of government to expose the conspiracies and protect the right to vote while the country is under siege. But to truly defend our democracy, we must confront the threat that extremism, baseless conspiracies and weak gun laws pose to our union.

Nick Suplina is the senior vice president of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety.

Justin Wagner is the senior director of investigation at Everytown for Gun Safety.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.