January 6th, Gun Culture, and the Danger to our Republic

I will never forget my conversation with this man I talked to on January 6th in DC just a few hours before a mob broke into the capitol. He said that if the legislators ratified the vote that day for Biden, people would come back armed to DC and it would be the “ugliest thing” we had ever seen. He then quoted JFK about “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” In some ways this possible outcome was prevented as the January 6th riot gave Trump enough of a slap on the wrist and made the GOP allies just enough hesitant to end the assault on the very foundations of our republic.

As we talk about the massive amount of deaths that our gun culture and access to assault weapons has caused in our society through mass shootings and the more common daily shootings that happen across our towns and cities on a daily basis, we should not overlook the danger that gun culture creates for our very republic. Often times those arguing in favor of military grade weapons in the society argue that we should have them as a defense against tyranny. After all “Hitler took their guns.” However, what I have seen and what January 6th and the support of the far right to overturn the Republic under Trump revealed is that the overlap between those who want more weapons to “defend against tyranny” and those who were willing to overthrow our republic to support Trump is pretty strong.

More guns will not keep tyranny at bay; they are much more likely to facilitate that tyranny coming to power. The daily shootings in towns and cities across the country and the horrific mass shootings in our stores, schools, and malls will seem minimal compared to the violent civil unrest that will occur when the next January 6th happens and Trump or another Trump-like figure riles up his heavily armed people to his aid. As this man told me on January 6th, it might be the “ugliest thing we have ever seen in the history of America.” It is much more likely in the U.S. than in other liberal democracies because we are so heavily armed.

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Will McCorkle

Will McCorkle


I am an education professor in South Carolina with an emphasis in immigrant rights and peace education