[The title of this post is shameless stolen from Sebastian. It’s far better than anything I would have come up with. A significant part of the rest of this post is from a comment I left on his blog.]
We all have different backgrounds and hence different viewpoints on the past and the probable future. At least one person disagrees with me. Good. I’d like to be wrong on this. Maybe Chris and Melody will show up at Boomershoot 2008 (hint, hint) and convince me I am wrong.
Some weren’t really aware because they were too young or because they simply didn’t have the interest in some of the things that had a profound impact on me. When the standoff at Ruby Ridge occurred I lived only about twenty miles away. Being that close you learned of things and felt emotions others more distant wouldn’t have a clue about. Although I grew up with guns around I didn’t do much shooting and when the Ruby Ridge incident occurred in August of 1992 I didn’t even own a gun.
A lot of things went through my mind during those 10 days. Probably the most profound thought was my complete inability to help the Weavers even if I had the courage and the determination. I didn’t own a gun and I didn’t have the training required to accomplish anything more than get myself arrested or killed.
The dark days of the Clinton administration began shortly thereafter and everyone knew what would happen to gun ownership under Clinton. I bought my first gun and became a gun-rights activist. Then in February of 1993 the events in Waco Texas began to unfold.
In September of 1994 the “assault weapon ban” went into effect. And even before it was enacted there was “Brady II” waiting in the wings. The anti-gun bigots were absolutely crowing about their victories and those they expected to follow. Those were very, very dark days. Barb will tell you how depressed and angry I was. I wasn’t very pleasant to be around and it wasn’t her fault.
What those dark days did for me was give me a lot of motivation to think about things. Both Ruby Ridge and Waco events were about guns. The ATF (“one of the best and most respected federal law enforcement agencies“) manufactured the circumstances to entrap innocent people and resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent men, women, and children. No government employee even lost their job over it. They lied to numerous judges and the worst that happened was U.S. taxpayers had to pay fines and settle a lawsuit.
If people were going to “come to the rescue” of innocents under attack by the government it would have happened at either Ruby Ridge or Waco. The innocents held out for more than enough time for people from anywhere in the country to travel and at least increase the casualties of the perpetrators. In Northern Idaho it was late August in sparsely populated woods and mountains. Spending a few nights in the woods approaching your targets and getting away would have been a relative simple challenge. No significant adverse weather conditions and lots of cover and concealment. In Waco the open terrain would have made an approach and departure significantly more difficult but the siege went on for 51 days. Someone could have gotten a bomb in there or a mortar within range and remotely fired upon the perpetrators during that time had they really wanted to. Yet no one did. There were some idiots who tried to drive in the back way to Ruby Ridge that got arrested. But they approached the problem in such a stupid manner that they had no real chance of accomplishing anything. There was zero serious resistance offered from the outside.
In both those cases the only casualties the forces of evil suffered were during the initial attack. And when it was all over the dead and wounded of the innocents outnumber those of the aggressors by at least a factor of four to one.
So, here was two very clear opportunities for gun owners to “show their stuff” over abuses by the Feds over “the gun issue”. Both Idaho and Texas are very strong pro-gun states. And what was on the report card at the end of the lesson? All 80 million gun owners in the United States got a zero. Not a single shot fired by anyone other than the direct participants.
I don’t know what I would have done in August of ’92 if I had the equipment and training I have now. But with what I know now about how other gun owners “responded” it would have been a significant inhibitor on any actions I might have considered. Alone there is no point in going up against several hundred armed and trained men with helicopters, armored personal carriers, and excellent communication gear. If there were a half dozen or so of you then maybe you could pick off a few from the perimeter and get away with it.
Lots of people claim they will start fighting when they come to take their guns. “When they start going door-to-door that’s when some really bad shit is going to hit the fan!” Oh yeah? Maybe you missed out on what happened after Katrina left town.
So where does that leave us? Interesting question. The conditions that will cause even a small fraction of gun owners to come to the aid of other gun owners under direct physical attack have not been determined. But we do know that lying to judges to get search warrants, entrapment, giving the victims wrong court dates, then charging them for failure to show up for the real court dates, shooting dogs, children, and mothers with a baby in their arms aren’t sufficient. We also know what happened (or rather what didn’t happen) in Australia and the U.K. when guns were confiscated. And do you have any idea what the kill ratio was between the Jews and the German Police Battalions that sweep through eastern Europe? For the one battalion that was well documented which I read about it was 16,000 to one. And that one casualty inflicted on the Germans wasn’t by one of the Jews about to be led off to a trench to be shot in the back of the neck. If anyone has sufficient motivation you would think it would be them. But instead that causality was inflicted by a couple of Polish partisan snipers.
What that means is the conditions for actually using our firearms in active resistance against “our own people” must be exceptional extreme.
What I think happens is that it is very easy to postpone the outwardly visible actions of resistance. People will resist in their minds and in their fantasies and convince themselves they have accomplished something. I believe this is a nearly universal trait. It may sound like I’m picking on Sebastian here but only because he made himself an easy target and I’m pretty sure he knows I don’t have any ill will toward him.
What Sebastian said was:
I’ll be honest with you all, I’d probably not turn in the ammunition first, as I have no desire to fight for a lost cause against a law that’s not really enforceable. Show me real opposition, and I might join, but aside from that, I plaster an off the books AR up in my wall with a “Break Wall In Event of a Emergency” note in my head, and keep a few thousand rounds of ammunition.
I responded in the comments to his post was the following (with a few minor edits):
As long as we have private sales, and to a certain extent even if we don’t, a year or two after you filled out your 4473 a firearm may be considered “off the books”. “Oh, that one? I didn’t care for it and sold it via an note I put up on the bulletin board at the gun shop.” Or, “I loved that gun but I lost it in a boating accident last summer.” But mere possession of a firearm isn’t the critical item.
What will become difficult is to practice and receive formal training. You should be putting several hundred rounds down-range each month just for maintenance. If it becomes illegal to own then range availability as well as (black market) ammo prices will make practice nearly impossible.
Without the practice then you really won’t know if that 75 yard shot at the guard beside “the cattle car filled with Jews” will mean the release of the victims or your death. A 400 yard shot? Forget it. With practice you know what you are capable of (at GBR-2007 do you think I would have started off-hand shooting at the 400 yard plate had I not thought I would be able to make at least a few hits?). With this knowledge you can have the confidence to make plans and execute them.
It is my understanding that the “gardens of eastern Europe were well oiled” because of all the guns buried there. Even as tyrants of eastern Europe rose to power, people were dragged off in the middle of the night, and while the gulags killed their 10s of thousands those guns stayed buried in their well oiled graves.
To me, burying your guns is little different than turning them over. It’s only a victory in your mind. You must use them or you have lost them.
A further thing to think about is that it is exceedingly rare when the defender wins a war. As long as one side can choose the terms of all the engagements they are nearly certain to win in the long run. If you think holding on to your gun for another generation is a win then fine, you stand a fair chance of “winning” as long as you don’t tell any one about your guns and the high tech scanners in the patrol cars and helicopters overlook them as they go by. But really it just means your loss will go unnoticed and unremarkable.
If we loose at the SC it was for “all the marbles”.
One can argue that even if we completely lose the case realistically we aren’t any worse off than we were before the ruling. After all, what protection did the Second Amendment give us in the last 70 years? How many laws were overturned because of it? We have been in the midst of a running battle for decades thinking we had the Second Amendment to back us up “if things got really bad”. But really, how many battles has it won for us? How many times has it stepped up to the plate and even got a hit? Until Hellar it has struck out every single time it came to bat. In a rational world to have the Second Amendment end up not being worth the piece of paper it is written on wouldn’t make much difference to us.
But this isn’t a rational world we live in. The Second Amendment is something we believe in. We want to believe it and we do believe it and it makes a difference in how we fight. It makes a difference in how our opponents fight too. It’s another hurdle they have to get over or around. They risk exposing themselves as liars and hucksters every time they try to explain “collective rights”.
Without the Second Amendment as an individual right we have two realistic choices:
Sometime soon we start shooting.
We fight a political delaying action that lasts for a decade or two.
I don’t have any hope the first one will occur or that it would be successful if it did happen. And ultimately we will lose via the second option.
I stand by my original agreement with Kevin’s claim, This One’s for All the Marbles. Anything else is only a victory of the mind.
I have to say something about the “defender rarely wins” argument. I agree with this, and if it comes to a shooting war, the only realistic way we can win, or at least not lose is to form small groups (5 people maybe?) and attack the enemy when he’s not looking. In other words, guerilla warfare. If we wait until they come to get our guns, we die for no good reason.
I’ve noticed a lot of people, even here within a few hours’ driving distance of Ruby Ridge, just do not want to hear anything about the Waco or Ruby Ridge incidents. I assume it’s too uncomfortable for them to even think about it. I was accused of being “paranoid” recently after bringing it up (as though it never really happened and I just made it up).
This sort of denial happens all the time. A lot of people refused to believe that the German government was capable of such horrible things back in the 1930 and ’40s. It was much easier to disbelieve it or to ignore it. Acknowledging it places strong moral obligations on you, doesn’t it?– very uncomfortable ones. The Soviets did far worse than the Germans. Some people in the U.S.A. thought the Soviets were pretty cool. Some still do. Some of them are employed at our universities and in our government agencies.
Now we have people denying that Islamic Jihadists are bad people (“surely if they’re THAT pissed at us they must have a reason…” and so on. “Surely if the feds were THAT concerned about the Branch Davidians they must have had a good reason…”). Never mind that they were buddies with the Nazis 65 years ago, or that they’ve clearly and repeatedly stated their intentions. There’s a huge incentive to believe the flimsy rationalizations and the outright lies, rather than believe there are people in your own government who think nothing of using the Constitution for ass wipe.
I think you were all correct to point out the flaw in my thinking there, and you’ve changed my mind as to the value in doing something like that.
But I still am not going to reflexively say “I’ll shoot the bastards” because I don’t really know what I’d do it if it came to that. It’s not that I think violent resistance would be immoral, I just ponder whether dying in a lone standoff would really accomplish anything.
IMHO the lone standoff situation is stupid unless you are going to die anyway.
“Shooting the bastards” only makes sense if you have a reasonable chance of getting away with it and enough others will do the same to make a postive difference.
As Abbie Hoffman said, The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.
I just have problems seeing enough people, giving the history of inaction, making it actually work.
I stumbled across a post of mine from over two years ago on this topic. You might find it also worth reading: The Second Amendment reset button.
Should the day come when the agents of the Omnipotent State go forth to collect all our guns, there will be little, if any, resistance.
We have become inured to oppression. All too often we’ve said “it can’t happen here,” or worse, “it can’t happen to me.” But it can. And it will, unless we cowboy up and resolve to defend our rights.
Governments are intrinsically hostile to the right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, governments are intrisically hostile to all rights. Rights are the barriers to power, and governments are about the increase of power over others. It can’t be made simpler than that.
Francis, I agree.
Any suggestions on a solution?
Not at this time on the clock, Joe. As always, the alternatives are flight and fight. They’re the same ones the Pilgrims faced, but now, in contrast to then, there’s nowhere on Earth to go, and the State has become capable of annihilating whole populations with a single weapon deployment. So unless there’s someone working in secret who’s about to complete a cheap spaceship and an even cheaper way of sustaining life in space…!
Funnily enough, I’m close to completing a novel that starts from exactly this point. I managed to be more optimistic in constructing that scenario than I am in real life. But I had to contrive a galaxy-wandering planetoid conveniently filled with nuclear fuels to do it.