Joe Huffman asks the question: (Okay, Mark Philip Alger asks the question and Joe posted it as a quote of the day, I answered at Joe's place.) When is it proper, for example, to use force to stop a legislator engaged in unconstitutional actions? Indeed, when is it required of those who have sworn oaths to... protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic...?
I answer this question, one that I've pondered on more than one occasion, and come up with an answer that incorporates Lawyers, Beer, Whiskey, Prohibition, Slavery, Suffrage and Guns. Quoth the Zevon, "send lawyers guns and money, the shit has hit the fan."
(Editors note, the following is the result of a combination of Pain, Zoloft, Methodone, Celebrex, Gabitril, Lyrica and Ambien, and I still couldn't sleep...)
I've also asked myself that question, as one bound by that oath.
Herein lies the problem. Our legislature can see fit to change the constitution seemingly at will. An amendment, or worse, striking down an amendment, is well within their purview, and the constitution is what gives them the power to do just that. So if, by some act, they struck down the first ten amendments, or even just the second, and that act was either agreed to by the Him, or his veto overriden, and then the new amendment ratified, and cleared by review of the SCOTUS, I would be honor and duty bound to fully support that constitution.
It's a function of the truest weakness of our constitution, that it can be changed, often enough by the fancies and socio-political whims of the day--take prohibition for example. We had the whiskey rebellion over the gummint's designs on taxing whiskey. A hundred and fifty-odd years later, we criminalized liquor altogether, based on a popular notion of alcohol as the root of all societies ills.
Now, we see guns as the new booze.
In criminalizing private ownership of guns, there is a completely legal means of doing it, the same reason that there are currently lines of our constitution that are struck through--bits about 3/5 of a person, women's suffrage, etc. Sometimes, we see the changes as good for the overall whole, ssometimes we see them as bad, and we reert back to common sense--i.e. prohibition, but the effect on the gun industry would be far worse than the effect on the booze industry.
Prior to prohibition, almost every town in America had its own brand of beer. Microbreweries weren't kitchy, they were de rigeur. Every town brewed beer, often with recipes coming from the old country, and often with more regionally available ingredients. We had a great many different beers, of different style and character. Following prohibition, there were only a very few breweries remaining, they had either the resources to mothball their operation or produce non-alcoholic beverages during the interim. When they restarted operations, they saw that the best way to get back into business full swing was to produce a beer that would either appeal to all people, or at the very least, be bland enough to not make them stay sober altogether. The result is the "American" style of lager. Almost completely devoid of flavor, mildly hopped, barely bitter. The most common thing it has to its ancestors is bubbles.
So, since we're starting with a relatively small number of companies producing guns, a prohibition of any length in the civilian market would result, if that prohibition was ever listed, with new guns sharing the characteristic of appealing to the most people. I shudder to think what commonality they would have with American beer.
But to answer the original question, when does our armed forces raise up against a tyrannical government that i our own? Unfortunately, although we swear protection against foreign and domestic enemies, there is no set, formalized, even legal trigger for that action. No legal line in the sand. I think it is kind of like pornography--it can't be defined, but you know it when you see it. Fortunately, I think things will have to get worse, much worse, before we see tanks rolling through the mall. Americans should never count on their military to fight their revolution for them, if that is what it takes. It should be a revolution of, by, and for the people, a popular movement, not one that can or should be fought by professional soldiers. If we host a revolution, it's a coup, and the most common result is a dictatorship.
Just my $.02 (which in terms of US currency and exchange, is worth slightly less than a zimbabwean nickel.)