Raskin: Insurrectionary Theory of Second Amendment “Betrays the Actual Constitution”

On the 28th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the beginning of a surge in homegrown extremism, Raskin responds to Republican claims that the Second Amendment protects armed rebellion against the government

April 19, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today, on the 28th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, released the following statement on efforts by many in the Republican Party to misinterpret the Second Amendment in order to defend violent and insurrectionary attacks on the government and law enforcement. 

“From the floor of the House of Representatives to Truth Social, my GOP colleagues routinely assert that the Second Amendment is about ‘the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary,’ that it was ‘designed purposefully to empower the people to be able to resist the force of tyranny used against them,’ and that it ‘has nothing to do with hunting, unless you’re talking about hunting tyrants, maybe.’

“Before he murdered 168 people, including 19 children, Timothy McVeigh became obsessed with guns and pondered whether ‘we have to shed blood to reform the current system?’

“But the pervasive, dangerous claim that a self-appointed minority of the people have a right to use deadly force against elected representatives or the police betrays the actual Constitution and twists the Second Amendment into a pretzel of logical absurdity which blocks our ability to respond to the nightmare of gun violence in our society.

“Indeed, in a half-dozen different places, the Constitution treats ‘insurrection’ and ‘rebellion’ not as protected rights but as serious crimes against our government and people. 

“Plainly, Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 gives Congress the power to ‘provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ The Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4 further provides that the United States shall guarantee a republican form of government to the people and protect each state’s government and people ‘against Invasion and … domestic violence.’ (Emphasis added.)

“Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment actually disqualifies from future officeholding anyone who swears an oath to the Constitution and then engages in ‘insurrection or rebellion.’

“When I have pointed out the Constitution’s comprehensive rejection of insurrectionary violence, my GOP colleagues proudly invoke Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame. This is amusing because Patrick Henry was, of course, an anti-Federalist who voted against the Constitution. His slogans tell us nothing about its meaning. 

“Make no mistake: the real Constitution rejects the right-wing fantasy that random bands of disgruntled armed citizens can claim the powers of the constitutional ‘Militia’ to commit violent acts against public officials.

“The phony insurrectionary theory allows right-wing politicians to suggest that the mass destructive violence of January 6 was something other than criminal. But it was entirely criminal, and it opposed the Constitution in both letter and spirit.

“The fanciful claim that the Second Amendment exists to allow armed groups to overthrow the government is the basis for the equally deranged claim that the people must have an arsenal equal to the government’s. But nothing in the Constitution guarantees any person a right to a military-style assault weapon, a tank or any other military-style weaponry.

“It is plain to see where former President Trump wants to take his movement now. But the rest of America must make it plain to Trump’s followers in Congress and all the extremist and insurrectionist groups how our Constitution works. They have no lawful right to overthrow our government or attack our police. That does not exist in the Second Amendment or anywhere else in our Constitution. We are governed by law.”


Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. In the 117th Congress, Rep. Raskin led the second presidential impeachment trial of Donald Trump and served on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.