Americans have a very special message for the federal government: Don’t tread on me.
That’s the takeaway from a new poll from the Pew Research Center in which, for the first time in at least the last two decades, a majority of Americans say Washington actually poses a threat to their “personal rights and freedoms.”
And it’s not just tea party supporters, Republicans and gun owners.
Nearly two-fifths of Democrats (38 percent) say the government is a threat to them personally, as do 45 percent of non-gun owners.
Overall, the percentage of Americans who view the federal government as a threat has increased from 36 percent in May 1995 to 53 percent today. It rose late in the 1990s and then dropped again after 9/11, down to 30 percent.
Today, most Americans now feel at least somewhat scared of what the government could do to them, and 31 percent see Washington as a “major threat.”
This is an important piece of data to keep in mind as Congress debates new gun legislation. While polls show broad support for expanding background checks and limiting the manufacture and sale of certain types of so-called assault weapons, the flip side of that is that many Americans are wary of their government going too far in restricting their constitutional rights — be it on guns or anything else.
I’m sure that there are some out there who are thinking “Well, this must make you gun nuts really happy”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 2nd Amendment is there to allow the People to stand up to tyranny; to cast it off they way they did over 200 years ago. But it’s supposed to be a guarantee against an abstract threat. That threat isn’t supposed to be palpable. It sickens us to think that our own government, run by people from our own generation, has drifted so far from our founding principles that a majority now see it as a threat to liberty. So the answer is no, we aren’t happy about this. Not at all.