I have the utmost respect for Lori and for AH, who demonstrate their awesomeness all the time. Lori likes comics and reads my blog (good enough for me!), and AH is foxy and reads my blog (yeah ok plus she's funny).
Lori and AH cite what is widely regarded to be the spirit of the Second Amendment - that the people of this country grant our government its power to govern us, but we retain the right and the means to rescind that grant.
Fine. But at the risk of sounding effete, I say that the means to revoke that grant have changed. We don't live in the late 1700's. We needed guns to effect change then; (and here's where the effete part comes in, I'm kind of sick with embarrassment) now we need talkers and writers, bloggers and YouTube videographers. Even the famous Thomas Jefferson "tree of liberty" quote sounds barbaric to 21st century ears. Jefferson's "few lives lost" is a pipe dream now.
We also don't live in 1990's Rwanda, or 1930's Germany. Every move of the U.S. government is scrutinized by the world - Bob reads The Economist, and I swear, those English guys report more U.S. policy decisions than the Washington Post does. An armed populace is not going to be the force that stems the tide of totalitarianism in this country, if it comes to that. (Besides the fact that the majority will probably be all for it, and the rest of us are gonna get squashed no matter what.)
But even if I were to concede that we would need guns in order to 1) assert our right to overthrow our elected government; 2) resist governmental efforts to restrict our freedoms; or 3) protect ourselves in the event of societal breakdown... I just can't balance the actual cost of legal gun ownership against the benefit of having guns should any of these situations arise.
Scenario A: The pogroms start, and we begin an armed insurrection. The troops knock on your door, and you pull out your gun. You are shot, instead of being taken to the camps. (Yes Dad, I know you'd say that would be preferable, but we're talking about society at large here.)
Scenario B: Criminals and people with poor impulse control use guns to conduct their business and to victimize people. Collateral damage ensues.
We live in Scenario B. Scenario A is about as likely as an EMP (which is not to say completely unlikely).
I recognize that it may seem a bit cart-before-the-horse to say "We are in a country where crime and mental illness go unremediated - let's outlaw guns so that criminals and crazy people can't have any." And indeed, if it were within our grasp to create a society that is devoid of any motivation to pursue a life of crime, and in which all crazy people were identified and cared for appropriately, and domestic arrangements were consistently and purely harmonious, I'd be all for it.
Break for funny:
My Granny, she was a good sport.
Anyway: come on. That is not within our reach. Crime exists because there is economic motivation. It can be an easy way to make a living if you are not equipped with the skills or interest to pursue productive employment. Men get drunk and threaten their women. Crazy people go off the deep end.
It is far more likely that you or I or my co-worker will be menaced with a gun than it is likely that the government will become so foul that taking arms is the only alternative. I don't trust the government - this government - any further than anyone else. But yo, let's take our example from the most effective current armed insurrection: buy a dozen copies of The Anarchist Cookbook and stockpile explosives and shitty cars if you want to be ready to fight the power. Your handgun will be of little use.
And my dear AH, you come to my house, I'll load you and LF into the Subaru, and get you guys the fuck out of Dodge when the shit comes down. My folks have a place in the country for Just This Reason (so you know I come by that brand of paranoia naturally). If it helps, Dad has a bunch of guns. (And when that house was broken into, some of them guns fell into the hands of the meth-heads. Bra-fucking-vo.)