A Refreshing Shot of Reality, Part I


The author here is no friend of ours:

Alert readers (and listeners) will know that on a philosophical level, I’m a squish on the gun stuff. I find it embarrassing that the United States is “exceptional” in the amount of violence its people inflict on one another, and themselves, with handguns. And I’m skeptical about the utility of an unqualified right to acquire weapons of such lethality. My colleague Kevin Williamson says that the right to bear arms makes us citizens and not subjects. And I agree, up to a point. I just wouldn’t assume that any adult U.S. national is a good citizen. .In an ideal world, a man like Stephen Paddock, who spent his time and money getting perks at Vegas casinos would be disqualified from this burden of citizenship, on account of his manifestly dissolute and aimless life.

Acolytes of The Prophet will recognize Heinlein’s theory of linking service to voting rights. Those same acolytes will also note that the author doesn’t quite get there. And also note that he qualifies this “with handguns”, and completely ignores the violence our fellow humans wreak upon one another with knives, clubs, etc. Another idiot who grants some sort of agency to an inanimate object. If we were to apply his stated views on what makes a “good citizen” we’d have to conclude that his inability to distinguish between anthropomorphism and reality would certainly keep him out of the voting booth.

Onto the good stuff:

The author is taking to task one Michael Schermer, writing in the odious and execrable New York Times. Nope, no link for you, NYT.

Gun-rights advocates also make the grandiose claim that gun ownership is a deterrent against tyrannical governments. Indeed, the wording of the Second Amendment makes this point explicitly: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That may have made sense in the 1770s, when breech-loading flintlock muskets were the primary weapons tyrants used to conquer other peoples and subdue their own citizens who could, in turn, equalize the power equation by arming themselves with equivalent firepower. But that is no longer true.

If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full of Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional.

Gee, when have we heard that one before? Oh, yeah: for decades. You gotta love their consistency. If nothing else, it saves us from wasting the time needed to rebut some other idiocy, so there’s that.

The author continues:

Schermer invokes the massacres at Ruby Ridge and at Waco, Texas, as further evidence that guns are not sufficient to protect you from a determined government. He offers instead for protection the rule of law, and a good lawyer to defend you. He concludes that these are far superior defenses against the government than guns.

The concluding note is obviously correct. Everyone here much prefers to have a functioning civil society, and a government that honors our God-given rights. But, Schermer has avoided the real argument. The “defense against tyranny” claim does not hold that any one individual, or a tiny group, can defend any claim against the government with the force of arms. And, of course, equal firepower was never the issue. Even in the 1770s, an American government could raise a larger and better-outfitted force than what was present at Ruby Ridge or Waco Texas. Civil society and good lawyers are all the defense you need against a non-tyrannical government. But a tyranny, an invader, or a pretender-government are more effectively resisted with guns.

Sometimes people put Schermer’s argument more baldly. They ask something like this: “Do you really think Bubba in camo gear hiding in the forest is going to take on the U.S. military? The U.S. military has nuclear weapons!”

Who exactly do you think has stymied the U.S. in Afghanistan for 16 years? The Taliban is made up of Afghan Bubbas. The Taliban doesn’t need to defeat nuclear weapons, though they are humiliating a nuclear power for the second time in history. They use a mix of Kalashnikovs and WWII-era bolt-action rifles. Determined insurgencies are really difficult to fight, even if they are only armed with Enfield rifles and you can target them with a TOW missiles system that can spot a cat in the dark from two miles away. In Iraq, expensive tanks were destroyed with simple improvised explosives.

If the U.S. government (and the American people behind them) doesn’t want to use nuclear weapons on foreign fundamentalists in Afghanistan, why does anyone presume they’d use them against Americans in Idaho?

Not quite the way I’d put it, but it’s certainly refreshing to see this in a mainstream publication, even though I’d shudder to find out that this guy got elected to Congress. I cannot count the amount of time and breath I’ve wasted explaining to these sorts of dolts that shooting at an armored vehicle is a waste of time, effort, and ammunition; that one waits for the crews to take a smoke break or you target the fuel trucks. After all, even a main battle tank is pretty useless without fuel or a crew to run it.

He concludes:

You can acknowledge this and still deplore America’s gun violence, as I do. You can wish and even work for an American future where there are fewer weapons in untrained and unsteady American hands. And, we all should wish to maintain a law-governed and orderly society that doesn’t inspire thousands or millions of Americans to resist its government in an insurgency. But in the meantime, don’t do violence to history itself. With just the moral support of the society they are living in, and a number of rifles, a small group of men can make it impossible for tyrants to rule.

(Again with that crazy fetishization of a lump of wood, plastic, and steel: “gun violence”. NB: if you start using OPFOR’s terminology, nobody will be surprised when you surrender. There also that “untrained and unsteady American hands” part. If you really believe that, you can start with access to the voting booth, but we all know you’re not going to go anywhere near that.)

Still, it’s nice to see someone “respectable” saying the things that we deplorable gun nuts have been saying for years. Maybe it’ll prevent us from having to demonstrate it.

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