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4.0 "Ordinary people can't fight a modern army with just pistols,rifles and shotguns! What chance does a_militia_have against tanks,planes, helicopters, and nuclear weapons?"


This article is from the talk.politics.guns Official Pro-Gun FAQ, by Ken Barnes (kebarnes@cc.memphis.edu) with numerous contributions by others.

4.0 "Ordinary people can't fight a modern army with just pistols,rifles and shotguns! What chance does a_militia_have against tanks,planes, helicopters, and nuclear weapons?"

See_War in the Shadows: Guerillas Past and Present,"2nd. ed.
by Robert Asprey, Morrow, ISBN 0-688-12815-7, (1994) for a
broad historical overview of guerilla warfare.

"Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture In Post-Vietnam America,"
by James William Gibson, ISBN 0-8090-9666-8, Hill and Wang, (1994)
attempts to explain the sociological origins of some aspects of
America's gun culture and its development in recent decades.
An interesting read, even if one doesn't agree with the author's

"The Right to Bear Arms: The Rise of America's New Militias,"
by Jonathan Karl, Harper Paperbacks, ISBN 0-06-101015-4, (1995)
[A generally well-researched introduction to the paramilitary
militia movement in the United States. Karl does, however, repeat
the media fallacy of the "hollowpoint 'cop-killer' bullet," p. 127]

for a more sympathetic (and historical) view of neo-militias see:
"Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution and Citizen Militias,"
Larry Pratt, ed., Legacy Communications, ISBN 1-880692-18-X, (1995)
[Larry Pratt is executive director of Gun Owners of America, an
organization defending the political dimensions of gun ownership.
Pratt was also in 1995-1996 a campaign co-chairman for Republican
presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. GOA can be reached at 8001
Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151, at (703) 321-8585,
and on the Web at http://www.gunowners.org/ ]

for an opposing view, focusing on the violent racist fringe, see:
"Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat,"by Morris Dees with
James Corcoran, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-017403-X, (1996)
[Morris Dees is the executive director of the Southern Poverty
Law Center, a group which collects information on and litigates
against racist organizations. The working title of Dees' book
was_Rebellion in the Heartland: The Story of America's Militia
Network," but the more ominous and sensationalistic title better
reflects Dees' own views of the paramilitary militia movement.]

Dunlap, Jr. (USAF), Col. Chales J., "Revolt of the Masses: Armed
Civilians and the Insurrectionary Theory of the Second Amendment,"
Tennessee Law Review v.62 pp.643-677 [Col. Dunlap presents a sober
critical analysis of the argument that irregular forces can defeat
modern professional armed forces. This article appeared as part of
a symposium issue on the Second Amendment.]

"1984: Spring - A Choice of Futures,"by Arthur C. Clarke,
ISBN 0-345-31357-7, (1984) pp. 3-13

"Paul Revere's Ride and the Battle of Lexington and Concord,"
by David H. Fischer, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508-847-6

"Afghanistan: the Soviet War,"by Edward Girardet, St. Martin's Press,
ISBN 0-312-00923-2, (1985)

"Lethal Laws,"published by JPFO (see above)

"The Bravest Battle,"by Dan Kurzman, G.P. Putnam's Sons,
ISBN 0-399-11692-3, (1976)

"Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter,"by Simha Rotem (Kazik),
Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-05797-0, (1994)

"The Gulag Archipelago,"by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn,
HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-092104 (1991)

"Schindler's List,"by Thomas Keneally, Touchstone Books,
ISBN 0-671-88031-4, (1993) p. 374

"Victory,"by Peter Schwizer, Atlantic Monthly Press,
ISBN 0-87713-567-1 (1994), which is now available in
paperback as ISBN 0-87113-633-3

"War in Afghanistan,"by Mark Urban, St. Martin's Press,
ISBN 0-312-01205-5 (1988)

In summary: While the full scope of tactics involved in modern
urban and guerrilla warfare would require a FAQ by itself, the common
assertion by "gun control" supporters that resistance against a
tyrannical government by the use of privately owned small arms is
impossible today (given the destructive power of modern military
weapons) reflects a degree of certitude which can hardly be called
unanimous among those familiar with the history of low-intensity
conflicts around the world. Certainly it is possible to_kill_greater
numbers of people faster today than ever before in human history,
but_enslaving_a people and_subjecting_them to tyrannical rule is
becoming increasingly_more difficult_in the modern era, despite the
destructiveness of modern weaponry.
The astounding proliferation of computers, telecommunications
devices, video recording devices, audiotape cassette recorders,
photocopiers, and strong encryption methods in the industrialized
(and industrializing) nations of the world has made imposing censorship
on or jamming these multiply redundant means of command, control and
communications all but impossible for even the most tyrannically minded
nation-state. (And, ironically, nation-states which attempt to prohibit
these liberating technologies pay a severe penalty in terms of their
economic productivity, as is the case today in North Korea.)
However,"knowing_that you're being tyrannized doesn't always mean
that you'll be able to_do_anything about it, if the guns are all in
the hands of the government. Government control over education and
mass communications remains a powerful tool of indoctrination and
propaganda, even when opposed by private ownership of liberating
communications technologies like those listed above. The experience
of the pro-liberty movement in Communist China during the student-led
protests of June 3-4, 1989 shows this very clearly. Despite the
presence of many foreign journalists who were there to cover the visit
of then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and despite the e-mail and
faxes and live satellite feeds which informed the world of the events,
and despite the courage of people brave enough to stand in front of a
tank column, some 5,000 people were slaughtered by an indoctrinated
"People's Army" of peasants from the provinces.
Governments (even democratically elected governments) have always
held the potential for tyranny and mass murder, and the use of "gun
control" laws has acted only to monopolize power further in the hands
of the state. Throughout the twentieth century, governments have
exercised their monopoly of force in ways far more villainous than
any lone criminal or deranged individual is capable of. Tens of
millions of deaths due to Communism in the Soviet Union and China,
another million or so in Cambodia's killing fields, and the millions
murdered at the hands of the Nazis in Germany, not to mention the
millions who died in the wars fought to combat these infernal regimes,
are a testament to the effectiveness of "gun control". Many lesser
known tyrants have also racked up impressive body counts after disarming
their political opponents or despised minority groups. The decades of
tyranny which the former Soviet and Eastern European peoples endured,
and fact that some people were misfortunate enough to have lived out
their entire lives without tasting_once_of liberty, is indeed a tragedy.
Could the wardens of such prison-states have survived, and plundered
the wealth of their country, and enslaved their fellow citizens so
effectively, without the help of "gun control"?
In the United States, we have been spared such dictatorship, but
we_have_seen the racist and unconstitutional internment of Americans of
Japanese ancestry during World War II, the death of American Indians by
the thousands in the wars to establish control of the Western
territories, the statutory deprivation of the civil rights of black
Americans in the century after Emancipation, and the sporadic oppression
of other ethnic and religious minorities throughout our history.
While one might hope to avoid such abuses in the future, it ought to at
least be considered that these American atrocities were the product of
democratically elected governments, and whatever past crimes may have
occurred with the support of the people, at least_we_are at liberty to
change the shape of our future. The Founders of our republic justly
realized that granting_any_government (even a democratically elected
one), a monopoly on force is a risky proposition, and a sure recipe for
eventual tyranny. That is the real reason for the existence of the
Second Amendment, and our history suggests that it has been a very
effective deterrent to the kinds of tyranny and genocide which have
arisen even in some so-called "civilized" countries of the world.
Could American history have been far worse than it is, had the
ambitions of would-be dictators not been restrained by the thought of
the multitude of armed citizens ready to resist the loss of their
liberties? And what of the progress of freedom on Planet Earth without
America's strength and innovation, and the torch of her Liberty
Enlightening The World? It_was_once intellectually fashionable to be
a Communist, and there_were_initially prominent admirers in this country
of the efficiency of the German Third Reich. How might history have
changed, if there were no Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution?
One shudders to consider the possibilities...
Even today, despite the development of weapons capable of massive
and indiscriminate destruction, tyranny must still be imposed at ground
level, if it is to exist at all. Technology has made it far easier
to kill people than to enslave them. Small arms are still sufficient
to tip the balance in favor of survival and eventual victory, and when
combined with the liberating communications technology that saturates
the modern industrialized (and industrializing) nations, they can be
potent weapons indeed. Coordination of forces, and careful choice of
targets can result in the capture of heavier and deadlier weapons
from the enemy, starting from the basic rifles and pistols of the
infantryman, on up to artillery, tanks, helicopters, anti-tank and
anti-aircraft rockets, missile systems, etc.
Communications technology can be used to rally the people to the
cause of liberty, much as VCRs helped the Solidarity movement win
freedom for the people of Poland by putting news censored by the
government onto hundreds of television screens. Even without
sophisticated communications, the Afghan fighters of the mujahedeen
were able to stymie the Soviet Army in Afghanistan for the first few
years of the occupation, and, covertly supplied with tons of Soviet
arms purchased for them by the U.S. and other sympathetic nations,
as well as training and intelligence assistance, the mujahedeen were
able to fight and kill tens of thousands of Soviet and Afghan Communist
troops during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, forcing the much vaunted
Red Army to withdraw in defeat. Most of the weaponry of the mujahedeen
militia in the early years was obtained by capturing Soviet equipment,
or obtained from deserters from the conscript Afghan Communist army,
and by manufacturing home-made copies of captured AK-47 assault rifles
with basic hand tools, and this is what gave them the edge to survive
until foreign help was available, much as France helped the U.S. win
her independence.
The Stinger anti-aircraft missiles the "muj" obtained later from the
U.S. contributed to their victory, but the war was waged guerrilla-
style, and as was the case for the U.S. in the difficult terrain of
Vietnam, fighting an enemy which blended in with the locals, while being
"obviously_foreign yourself, made the Soviets a big fat target.
Both the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, and that of the U.S. in
Vietnam also point to the difficulty in utilizing an armed force
designed to fight a high-tech conventional adversary against a low-
tech, elusive insurgency. The usual radio signals and heat signatures
targeted by electronic warfare don't exist if the enemy is smuggling
weapons through the countryside on horseback!
The tactical difficulty in fighting an_urban_insurgency makes tyranny
a particularly dangerous task in the city as well. The Jewish Ghetto
in Warsaw was almost liquidated by the occupying Nazis between July and
September of 1942, but there were a few hundred out of the few thousands
of Jews who had not yet been sent on the trains to Treblinka and who
felt that they would rather fight than surrender to Hitler's Final
Solution. Armed primarily with pistols, Molotov cocktails, grenades
and explosives, and desperately short of ammunition, the Warsaw
Ghetto fighters were able to hold off the Waffen-SS for almost a month
in April of 1943, killing a dozen or more Nazis and wounding many more,
before leading a few survivors out under the walls through the sewers of
Warsaw, even as the Nazis demolished the Ghetto with aerial bombs and
finally burned what remained to the ground.
If these Jewish fighters had been as well-armed as some of their
Israeli descendants are today, who knows how history might have turned
out? Even the much-celebrated German war profiteer and industrialist
Oskar Schindler armed his Jewish workforce better than the Ghetto
fighters. By the end of the war, many of "Schindler's Jews" had been
provided with_machineguns!" (A fact that Steven Spielberg chose to
leave out of his award-winning movie.)
One need not be paranoid about the possibility of genocide, any
more than one need be paranoid about flying in a jumbo jet. But the
fact that airplane crashes that kill hundreds of people occur only
"rarely_doesn't mean that we don't need the safety systems which help
protect us from that eventuality, or that we ought to be dismantling
them. A longstanding tradition of civilian control over the military,
and a rich legacy and cultural love of liberty among soldiers and
civilians willing to fight for its defense won't disappear overnight.
Chances are only a few police or military would join in any tyrannical
endeavor in these United States, but who knows what perils the future
may hold for our great-grandchildren --and_their_grandchildren.
One hopes the military will always take seriously its oath to
preserve, protect and defend our Constitution against all the enemies
of liberty, both foriegn_and_domestic; and that police will refuse to
enforce laws which are unconstitutional, and will refuse to be corrupted
by power and illicit wealth. But history has taught us that many
unthinkable things are indeed possible, and that in Alexander Hamilton's
words "To model our political system upon speculations of lasting
tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human
The Founders of this country knew the road that "gun control" leads
to quite well, no matter what "good intentions" are claimed for it.
It was the British attempt on April 18-19, 1775 to seize and destroy
the colonists' arsenal stored near Lexington, at Concord Massachusetts,
that prompted Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott to
ride and alert the countryside. The contingent of 700 British troops
marched up the road from Boston, and at Lexington Green were met by 70
colonial Minutemen (so-called because they were supposedly ready to
fight on a minute's notice). The British had cannon, and would use them
when the Minutemen refused the British order to throw down their arms
and disperse. In the subsequent skirmish there were a few casualties
on each side, but the Minutemen did disperse, and the Redcoats then
proceeded past Lexington to Concord, where they destroyed what few
munitions and supplies the colonists had been unable to remove in the
additional time that eight Minutemen had purchased with their lives.
From the countryside, alerted by the news of the riders and
Minutemen, and by alarm bells and warning cannon shots, came the
citizen militia, the good men of Lexington and Concord, some 4,000
strong, ready with their loaded muskets in hand. It was only then
the Redcoats began their retreat to Boston, surrounded by angry
colonial snipers shooting from cover behind trees, stone walls,
hedgerows, and houses, who kept up the barrage in engagement after
engagement along the length of the road, picking off 273 British
soldiers (killing 73 of them) while incurring only 95 casualties
themselves (of which 49 died). This was "The Shot Heard Round the
World" and the humble beginning of the American Revolution.


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