Guns Alone Not a Check Against Tyranny


One of the pillars of the anti gun control movement is the myth that a populace armed with guns acts as a check on the potential rise of an authoritarian regime. It is why these gun worshipers so readily believe that any new gun control measure is laying the groundwork for the government to eventually seize their guns, even though no prominent politician has ever made that claim publicly or been caught making it privately. This seems like a ludicrous presumption to those of us who are in favor of common sense gun regulations, but it makes some logical sense given their view. I mean, if there are political players with the nefarious intent to usurp power and if a bunch of Cliven Bundys do pose a threat to their ambitions, it would make perfect sense for those would-be despots to incrementally pass gun control laws with an eventual seizure in mind (all while rubbing their hands or petting a cat I imagine). Even if we don’t have those sorts of villains presently hatching schemes, a less armed population might embolden present and future Lannisters or Targaryens to maneuver for a shot at the metaphorical throne, right?

Well, let’s look at three broad possibilities and take into account the public’s weapons readiness given current gun stockpiles in private possession. Starting with the most dreaded scenario, an authoritarian regime comes into power and the military and other institutions mindlessly obey as fundamental rights are trampled. Okay, so according to estimates, there is more than 1 gun per adult in the US. Some of us might have to ask the gun nuts we have been deriding to buy/borrow a gatt, but we can fight back. However, military issue rifles are far superior to what is typically on the market, even the AR-15s. Not only that, the US military has drones, jets, Apache helicopters, all manner of missiles, tanks, satellite imaging, and an abundance of other technological goodies, many of which are top secret, that would render us virtual ants to a giant anteater. If you want to get an idea of what it would take to try to mount some semblance of a guerrilla resistance, look at what a group like the Taliban employs to wage war on the US (keep in mind that they are fighting a war of attrition to frustrate the US into leaving their homeland, not trying to topple a tyrannical US government on its soil – which is the fantasy for these gun nuts). We would need rocket-propelled grenade launchers and surface-to-air missiles at the very least. A bunch of semtex would be useful as well. Being that I am massively ignorant of military matters, that is all I can list in the way of weapons, let alone all the rest that goes into waging war against a vastly superior enemy like communications and logistics. The point is that if the intransigence of gun worshipers to give an inch on proposals for sensible gun control laws is a result of guarding for this scenario, they have a child’s fanciful image of the power of their toys. No amount of romanticizing of the Revolutionary War or playing soldier in the woods with your pals, no matter the gun arsenal you have amassed, makes you a match for the most devastating military ever known to man. If anything, they have fallen far short of being a legitimate check on a would-be despot who gets his/her hands on the reins of the US military and police forces. They should be pushing for rocket-propelled grenade launchers, surface to air missiles, and all the rest. I imagine that even for the majority of gun worshipers that sounds absurd; but not much more absurd than opposing background check legislation, research on gun violence by the CDC, and bans on assault weapons because you have it in mind that you and your 9mm are a sentry against a foe that can vaporize any above ground target.

The scenario that I like to think is most realistic is that a president or other leader that attempts to undermine democracy wholesale will be quickly ousted. In all likelihood, our belief in democratic principles would lead to push-back or outright defiance if a president tries to wrest power explicitly constrained by our Constitution. However, our government is not impervious to corruption or the slow acclimatization to a new order. That could lead to a middle ground between the two previous scenarios: a fracture in the military and other institutions. In other words, we could have a second civil war. In that case, both sides of the conflict would have access to some of the government’s armories and military installations. Now, if one side has a shortage of arms, it could be helpful for citizens to already have access to guns. However, this is an extremely unlikely scenario – within an already extremely unlikely scenario – given our vast military stockpiles and bases all over the country. But, if after some thought you are still geeked about the teeny-tiny chance that you may charge into battle with your handgun or AR-15 against an opponent armed with M16s, M4s, and a ton of other firepower, then I suppose there is little that will dissuade you that the government, assuredly, does not share your heroic pornographic vision, and therefore does not see you and your guns as a threat that needs to be surreptitiously snuffed.

Once this idiotic notion that the widespread availability of guns is somehow a check on the US government is dispelled, the only sensible reasons to own a gun are for sport and personal protection. Given that one typically imagines needing a gun to protect oneself from another person with a gun, universal background checks and higher age requirements make sense. For protection, a couple of handguns, and perhaps a shotgun if you are really paranoid, will suffice. Here there is also a fantasy of protecting your home from marauding hordes, but that can be dispelled in time with an onslaught of facts. All considered, it is the fantasy that guns are part of the system of check and balances that causes intense fear of a slippery slope and makes guns so easily attainable that we are the most murderous developed nation.


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