Many pro-gun control advocates argue that the Second Amendment is not only outdated but useless in this day and age because the United States military could easily crush a citizen’s rebellion.
Well, GunsAmerica reader “Finger” (his handle) begs to differ. In a related post on “Why We Need an AR-15 with a 30 Round Magazine,” Finger left this comment on the subject of the enduring relevancy and importance of the right of the people to keep and bear arms which I thought was so insightful that it deserved to be its own post:
I’ve heard, far too many times, the idea that a home-grown insurgency on U.S. soil could never stand up to the might of the Federal Government, and that our military could instantly crush any opposition. Like every facet of the gun debate, this one is quite complex, and before one jumps to any conclusions on the matter, it is important to first understand the nature of insurgency (not forgetting that this country was, in fact, founded by insurgents). There’s much more to war than simply who has the biggest guns or the thickest armor.
Shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent destruction of its military and government, US military vehicles began receiving improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. In the years that followed, these attacks increased dramatically in frequency and lethality, as did US casualties. For a number of reasons, more and more people began to support the insurgency, and through trial, error, and careful observation, they were able to pinpoint not only the weaknesses of our tactics, but even those of our most sophisticated warfighting systems. Coalition forces had, at their disposal, M1 tanks, Apache helicopters, Predator UAV’s armed with guided missiles, HMMWV’s with frag-5 kits, Paladins, fighter jets from the Marines and Air Force, and a myriad of other very high-tech, very expensive and very deadly weaponry. Yet, the Iraqi insurgents, with little to no education, comparatively minuscule budget, crude weaponry, and very limited resources, managed to gain strength and momentum all the way up until the beginning of the awakening movement.
Every day that went by, our enemies became stronger and more skilled. So how was that possible? That fact defies everything we’ve come to believe about the omnipotence of the American military. Well, simply put, combat power isn’t measured in microchips. It doesn’t take billions upon billions of dollars in warfighting assets to recognize that a bomb carefully hidden on the side of the road can do a lot of damage to a passing HMMWV.
I came to be quite well-versed in the tactics and techniques of our enemies during my own service in Iraq. The greatest difficulty we faced was simply identifying our enemies. After all, they were dressed in plain clothes just like everyone else, and without the ability to readily identify targets, how could we eliminate them? Because of this, we relied heavily (almost entirely) on information gathered from locals to guide us toward the “bad guys.” But, even that process was greatly hindered by a wealth of misinformation provided by insurgents posing as well-intentioned civilians (and the kicker: we often paid them for that information).
So where does the gun fit into all of this? Well, a gun is nothing more than a tool, and every tactical situation is a little different. Thus, different situations will call for different tools. Gaining ground in any tactical situation will inevitably require one side or the other to maintain some sort of presence on the turf in question, and doing so will require one to come within close proximity of his enemy. No military force can accomplish this with helicopters, drones, and guided missiles alone; the potential for the deaths of innocent people and collateral damage is far too great. So, fancy precision-guided missiles, no matter how sophisticated, are only useful to a certain extent. In Iraq, if a certain individual was targeted for detainment, we didn’t hover over their suspected location in a helicopter and lob explosives at them, or pepper them with hellfire missiles until they finally zip-cuffed themselves and surrendered. Not only would this have caused the deaths of countless innocents, but it would have been almost impossible to determine if the intended target was even in the target location. It wasn’t until a squad of brave men – with rifles – stacked up, kicked down the door, and went in, that we could successfully pull off a targeting mission.
Now, it could be said that the war in Iraq was entirely different from any would-be conflict here on American soil. With that, I would agree- to an extent. There are, no doubt, major cultural, geographical, economic, and infrastructural differences between the US and Iraq that would be enormous factors in the outcome of any armed conflict held in either country. However, to make such a statement would be to miss the point that was made at the very beginning of this piece (without over-simplifying it): Victory doesn’t necessarily go to the side with the biggest guns. It’s the side that most effectively plays their strengths against the weaknesses of its opponent, that wins.
Thus, I illustrate the utility of the rifle, not for any particular group or organization, but in any tactical environment. It is a tool that provides its user with the means to cast a lethal projectile toward his enemy, and no one else; an ability that any warfighter, regardless of allegiance or alignment, will find themselves in need of.
Before I finish, I’d like to make a few things clear. This writing is not a call for revolution. If that has been your take-away, you’ve misunderstood me. I, and most everyone else in this country, have plans for the future which require stability and will never come to fruition in a war zone. I’m simply trying to inform the two people who will ever read this that, once again, the gun debate is not as “black and white” as some believe, and many of the arguments against guns are based entirely in ignorance and hearsay. My only goal is to provide a drop of truth in a sea of fallacy and misinformation. Rest assured, anybody who claims that guns should be further restricted or banned in this country because, “You can’t beat the government anyway,” has no real understanding of the issue.
Those who founded this country were able to do so only after waging war against their own government, which had become irreversibly oppressive and corrupt. Being well aware of the dangers of concentrated power and its detrimental effect on personal freedom, they wanted only to erect a system of government that could be kept in check by limiting its power, and its ability to acquire it. The rights outlined in the Bill of Rights were included because they are the rights that, among others, have the most profound impact on the peoples’ ability to remain free in mind and body. And, indeed, they are the same rights that must first be lost in order for those who seek power and true control to achieve that goal.
Big tip of the hat to Finger for allowing us to syndicate this rather cogent response to the question on whether an armed militia could contend with a corrupted and tyrannical U.S. government.