Was the Storming of the U.S. Capitol Building an “Insurrection”?

In early January 2021, my work was disrupted by a text message from a friend: “They are storming the capitol.” It took me a moment to figure out who “they” were, but I soon made the connection. They were people gathered for the March for Trump rally in Washington, DC. Formally organized by Women For America First, the rally included a motley crew of people wanting to “Save America” by overturning Donald J. Trump’s defeat by Joseph R. Biden in the November 2020 presidential election. Joining run-of-the mill members of “MAGA nation” in forcefully entering the U.S. Capitol Building were followers of movements like Stop the Steal, the QAnon conspiracy, Proud Boys, Nick Fuentes’s Groyper Army, Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, and III%ers.

As they were attempting to disrupt a meeting of Congress that was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, many have called the event an insurrection.

But was it?

NOTE: I am not an attorney, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so nothing in this post should be construed as giving legal advice or as constituting comprehensive and accurate interpretation of the law.

DC Capitol Storming by TapTheForwardAssist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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Why Are There So Few Violent Insurrectionist Gun Owners?

In the wake of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Building last week by supporters of President Donald Trump, philosopher Firmin DeBrabander (author of Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society) pointed a finger in The Atlantic at the gun rights movement, holding it responsible for promoting “insurrectionist fever dreams.”

The many typical gaffes in the article notwithstanding, my major reservation with DeBrabander’s argument is similar to my reservations about many news stories and scholarly articles about gun culture: It paints with too broad a brush.

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