As the endgame approaches, it’s important to understand the radical vision that underlies pro-gun absolutism. Forget about the Second Amendment—the gun lobby, abetted by timorous Republicans, is trying to privatize law and order.

Maintaining public order is supposed to be government’s job. The sociologist Max Weber considered a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force to keep order” to be the defining characteristic of a competent state.

The Republican Party exists to elect people to run the government. Where are the Republicans who will stand for the civilized principle that the government, not private vigilantes, should provide basic law and order? Apart from a few honorable exemptions, such as John McCain, they have been intimidated into silence.

In the gun lobby’s dystopic view, Americans can no longer rely on government to keep them safe, so they have to do the job themselves. When everybody is armed and dangerous, the predators among us won’t be able to find any victims. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity clips is tantamount to unilateral disarmament, since it would leave law-abiding citizens outgunned in their confrontation with thugs and criminals.