I guess if we were wondering how it might look when someone decides to act on selected quotes of Thomas Jefferson, we know now.
In his manifesto, ex-cop-turned avenger Christopher Dorner used that familiar Jefferson quote written in defense of periodic revolution: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
The same quote was on Timothy McVeigh’s t-shirt in 1995 the day he bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
But as with most people who invoke that quote, which was part of a long letter, they leave out the rest, which includes:
“Happy for us, that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers and set it to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms …”
In this case the “coolness of philosophers” was replaced by a heat of a long-standing grudge, and of course easy access to weapons. That’s the really chilling part. Where he described an arsenal that included highly regulated Class III weapons such as silencers and short-barreled rifles, and said he bought them from Lock ‘n Load – a Las Vegas gun store – without a background check. All they wanted was money and a signature.
Because he, at the time, was a law abiding citizen. The kind whose gun rights we all want to protect. You can’t help but wonder – how many people are building up legal arsenals, and nursing deep resentments, all the while scrupulously obeying every law – until the day they don’t?