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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You Need Guns to Overthrow a Government?

Posted by on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Via Sullivan, a great point:

T]he country ranked last on the [Small Arms Survey] — with only 0.1 guns per 100 people — is Tunisia, which as you'll recall was still able to overthrow a longtime dictator in 2011. With only 3.5 guns per 100 people, the Egyptian population that overthrew Hosni Mubarak was hardly well armed either. On the other hand, Bahrain, where a popular revolution failed to unseat the country's monarchy, has 24.8 guns per 100 people, putting it in the top 20 worldwide. A relatively high rate of 10.7 guns per 100 people in Venezuela hasn't stopped the deterioration of democracy under Hugo ChÁvez.

Also: If you can't legally buy a tank, or a warplane, or a missile launcher—and you can't—then do you really think you're going to be able to rely on small arms if you someday need to overthrow the government that spends more on its military than the next top 14 countries combined?


Comments (44) RSS

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A number of the Arab Spring countries were helped along with American know-how and weapons purchases.
Posted by OOF POOF on January 15, 2013 at 6:26 AM · Report this
Careful with the tank stuff, pretty soon it may be my god given right to have an ICBM...You know, for duck huntin'…
Posted by bigdman on January 15, 2013 at 6:32 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 3
You're so deluded it's funny. If there ever was an uprising in this country, what makes you think the military wouldn't be part of it?
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 15, 2013 at 6:35 AM · Report this
@1 which side are you talking about? The people or the government they were trying to overthrow? Because in many of those cases (the best example being Egypt) most of the "help" from American weapons went to the government and was used AGAINST the people.

On top of that- who cares if most of those countries with successful goverment overthrows by their people (and not, say, an invasion by us on wet-paper-thin grounds) got outside help? They didn't get it from "the people" of other countries. They got it from the militaries and political pressure of sympathizing nations. Which doesn't change the validity of the argument in the OP: personal, privately-owned guns have yet to win a single government overthrow in modern history. And it won't. So it's a bullshit, crazy, ridiculous argument.
Posted by AedanCRoberts on January 15, 2013 at 6:42 AM · Report this

You actually aren't disproving the argument the OP makes at all either.

In fact you are supporting it. Most of the uprisings won in modern history (Eqypt is once again the best example) was actually, in large part, due to the country's own military taking a neutral stance or siding with the people. But you know what that means? Yes! Once again personal ownership of guns by private citizens was not the reason, or really offered any help at all, in the uprisings being successful!
Posted by AedanCRoberts on January 15, 2013 at 6:51 AM · Report this
@4. We give Egypt military assistance as part of a long-standing relationship between the US, Egypt and Israel. They have American tanks, planes, and their generals attend US schools. It's also noted that the Egyptian army stayed away from the worst of the Tahrir Square protests and was instrumental in putting away Mubarak.
Posted by OOF POOF on January 15, 2013 at 6:51 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 7
Not all the guns will be aimed at government. Count me as one who would be on the government side against the fanatical right wing in any gun battles.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM · Report this
The entire gun rights argument is based on mythology, not reality.
Posted by Charlie Mas on January 15, 2013 at 7:02 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 9
The point at which a revolution succeeds or fails is when the military either joins or opposes it. Exceptions occur only when an opposing military is stronger than the official military. Given your point about how strong the US military is, the only way to win a revolution against the US govt through force would be to win over the military.

And this is exactly what the Far Right has been trying to do. Colorado Springs is the home of the Air Force Academy, and its no accident that several Far Right groups such as Focus on the Family have set up camp right outside the military base. If you want to find a megachurch in Tacoma, just drive in the general direction of JBLM. The same is true across the country.

There are lots of crazies who delusionally think they can fend off the US Marine Corps using a single AR-15. But the real danger isn't the crazy ones, its the all too sane ones who are pushing their Far Right agenda onto our servicemembers in hopes of achieving just the kind of military overthrow of the US gov't described above. If they fail to achieve a democratic victory, they're all too willing to achieve a military one.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on January 15, 2013 at 7:17 AM · Report this
@8 Thank you.

I'm not opposed to people having guns, on an individual basis, if they can justify it, meet reasonable requirements, and (perhaps) post an indemnity bond or show insurance. But, the very idea of every irresponsible or delusional idiot having "a God-given right" to own a gun is... well, basically insane.

If you want to professionally shoot video on the streets of most cities, you have to post a bond for the duration of your production. To register a car to drive on the streets, ditto. But, you can own a weapon that can shoot people and not have to show any coverage for liability?

"A right to bear arms" is not a waiver of indemnity. You should at least need some fucking insurance, no?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on January 15, 2013 at 7:21 AM · Report this
This is a big reason why the NRA is obsolete. By advocating that the only way to defend the country from tyranny is to create and sell more and more lead slinging machines, they reveal themselves to be the cavemen that they are. The right to bear arms must include hacking tools, malicious software, botnets, TOR exit routers, an anonymous internet...all the things I will need to coordinate with my fellow citizens and publish my findings re: tyranny.

But you see that shit is never going to happen. Because most of that stuff is free. Nerds aren't mouth-breathing idiots either, so getting them to step in line is a lot like herding cats.

Guns are the easiest answer to a complicated problem. If the only answer you will accept is the easiest one, you are a child.
Posted by derpyderpington on January 15, 2013 at 7:22 AM · Report this
5280, I'm glad to see you're on our side at last. We've got to get the message out that it is military support, and not privately owned guns, that leads to the success of a rebellion.
Posted by DisorganizedReligion on January 15, 2013 at 7:36 AM · Report this
venomlash 13
@3: If the military is leading the charge, why do private citizens need squad assault weapons?
Posted by venomlash on January 15, 2013 at 7:38 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 14
wasn't the 'free state' being maintained the USA or 1 of the 13 individual states? so the militia was needed to resist invasion and occupation from outside (britain, spain, france), as there was no standing army. the word 'tyranny', and resisting it, isn't in the 2nd. i checked.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 15, 2013 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 15
Oh, there would still be plenty of lead being slung if it ever came down, with or without the military.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 15, 2013 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 16
@10- brilliant idea.

Slog contributors have come up with some great discussion points in recent weeks.

Is someone, anyone, collating the good ideas coming up from these discussions, and planning on bringing them forward as proposals for our lawmakers?
Posted by Dr_Awesome on January 15, 2013 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 17

Who's deluded?

Remember when you clowns said the military would mutiny if we elected a black president? Then you all said they'd mutiny if we allowed gays to serve openly?

You probably forgot, but you guys said they'd mutiny if we integrated blacks in the military too.

You're a lonely old dead-ender, and you use our troops as sockpuppets for your losing ideas. You project onto them what you wish they would do for you.

Instead of using them, pissing on their honor with your accusations that they'd commit treason, why not show them a little respect? Speak for yourself.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 18
God, @17, that sounds like a really painful condition you've got there. Maybe you should see a doctor.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 15, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Posted by soggydan on January 15, 2013 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 20

What makes you say our troops are disloyal? It's a serious accusation.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 15, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 21
Most of those countries also lack what we consider free speech. So I assume then that the 1st amendment is unnecessary as well? (Because we'll need to get rid of that also in order to adequately regulate the culture of violence coming out of Hollywood and the gaming industry).

Arguably the ACLU’s overly broad interpretation of the 1st amendment is as much a contributor to gun violence (if not more so) than the NRA’s overly broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment. When will pressure be brought to bear on the ACLU to stop killing our children???
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on January 15, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 22
@18, I never did say that. In fact, they're loyal enough to refuse to obey an unconstutional order. Such as taking action on American soil against its own citizens.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 15, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 23
@21: Nice try.

Free speech and free assembly - and their exercise even when they were not protected by law - are what allowed the Arab Spring to succeed. So on the value of your various amendments to protect against tyranny, the score is at least First Amendment 2 - Second Amendment 0.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on January 15, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
emor 24

Okay then, argue it.
Posted by emor on January 15, 2013 at 9:21 AM · Report this
Amnt 25
It isn't a great point, it's utterly meaningless without context.

Peaceful revolution is obviously preferable for all involved, but is only possible when the government doesn't resort to all out force. In that case, guns in private hands do help. I don't know the details of gun laws in Bahrain, but they do require a license and other regulations:…

I don't expect the average oppressed citizen is able to acquire such a license, and most private firearms are in the hands of the ruling class.

I would never make the claim that civilians could directly take on the US (or pretty much any) military and be successful, but direct confrontation isn't really the point. The existence of the means to resist can offer a deterrent to action, preventing it all together. Sure, an oppressive government can subjugate it's people with the military, but at what cost? Power ultimately comes from the capability to use force, and if you can use that force at little cost you are more likely to do so. By providing a check, even if marginal, it creates a much higher barrier.
Posted by Amnt on January 15, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 26
If you can't legally buy a tank, or a warplane, or a missile launcher—and you can't
Yes you can. Arnold Schwarzenegger owns his own tank:…

You can buy a Military PT boat from Hammacher Schlemmer:…

This argument that you can't buy machine guns and tanks and so forth is incorrect and tired, and you credulous hacks continue to trot it out time and again. Please get your facts right.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 27
"Free speech and free assembly - and their exercise even when they were not protected by law - are what allowed the Arab Spring to succeed."

So then why protect them by law if that protection interferes with our ability to regulate them adequately enough to stop Hollywood and the gaming industry from perpetuating their culture of violence.

By you own admission, the exercise of speech and assembly will occur (if necessary in the face of tyranny) regardless of the protection of those "rights" by law.

By you argument, the rights protected by the 2nd amendment are unnecessary in the face of tyranny (because guns are not useful) and the protections afforded by the 1st amendment are unnecessary in the face to tyranny (because speech and assembly will happen regardless). Why then not remove both the barriers to regulating guns and the violent speech that drives young men to use them?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on January 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 28
Who the fuck is arguing that we need guns in order to overthrow the government?!?

People like guns to collect, or use for hunting, or go target shooting. It's a hobby.

Insurance, background checks, registrations, fine, I'm all for it.

What's the point of this stupid post? Oh, that's right, to rile up emotional nonsense again so you guys can sell more ads. Great job. You've succeeded in getting the usual people to make their usual comments. Again. And nothing further has been gained.

Next pointless, rabble-rousing gun post should be arriving in 5... 4... 3... 2.......
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 15, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
'Whoa...easy, Hoss' Dept: What's this noise about Venezuela? If the HMS Sullivan thinks "democracy deteriorating" means cutting poverty in half and improving literacy and public health and being the fulcrum for prying Latin America away from the American Empire, then maybe he has a point. Otherwise, it's bullshit. (See also footage of Chavez supporters firing back at violent coup thugs, in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, 2002)…

It's baffling that people take Andrew Sullivan seriously. He's like a dancing bear with fashion-catastrophe eyeglasses.
Posted by Che Guava on January 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM · Report this
CC-Rob 30
"A relatively high rate of 10.7 guns per 100 people in Venezuela hasn't stopped the deterioration of democracy under Hugo ChÁvez."

Gun argument aside - the above statement by Sullivan is B.S. Chavez has been democratically elected and re-elected numerous times. Venezuelan elections are heavily monitored by international watchdogs and are actually cleaner than U.S. Elections. It's one thing for a hack like Sullivan to spread this type of misinformation -… It disappointing that it gets uncritically repeated by Eli and "The Stranger."
Posted by CC-Rob on January 15, 2013 at 9:54 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 31

Well, let’s look at what the contemporaries of the founding fathers understood its intention to be.

Justice Story (appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison in 1811), wrote a constitutional commentary in 1833. Regarding the Second Amendment, he wrote:

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on January 15, 2013 at 10:11 AM · Report this

I don't think the guns Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr used in their duel had anything to do with a militia, either (and yes, it was illegal to duel in New Jersey - though Aaron Burr was never prosecuted for it - but their right to individually own guns was never questioned. Because, like it or not, individual ownership of firearms was exactly what most of the founding father types thought the 1st Amendment protected).
Posted by The Bill of Rights was about people, people. on January 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 33

Then why wasn't Chavez deterred? Why the Patriot Act? Why did Bush suspend habeas corpus? Where is the evidence that guns deter oppression? How come it's the states with all the guns that with laws saying they will kick in your bedroom door to check to see if you're having gay sex? What good did all those guns do in preventing anit-sodomy laws from being overturned by the federal government?


Chavez routinely rewrote the Constitution to give himself more power, and packed the courts with favorable judges, and purged anybody who stood up to him. And all those Venezuelan guns didn't scare him one bit.

Or consider Saddam Hussein. Also one of the most heavily armed countries anywhere. Why didn't all those armed Iraqis deter Saddam?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 15, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
blip 34
@28 You don't need to stray from this comment thread to find someone who has given it enough thought to be certain how the military would factor into it. And that's just here on Slog -- take a stroll through the comments on a post about gun control on a conservative blog sometime. I have friends who post things on Facebook about Hitler conquering nations by disarming them. I agree it's a dumb distraction, but it's a thing that people in the United States in 2013 openly worry about, so we talk about it.
Posted by blip on January 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM · Report this
@31 Given this argument, do you believe the Confederacy acted within Constitutional boundaries when opposing the Union by force?
Posted by Emilio Ballardo on January 15, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Fnarf 36
I'm still waiting for you kooks to read even so much as the Wikipedia article on Shay's Rebellion, and then come back and tell me again how you're going to overthrow the US government with your guns.
Posted by Fnarf on January 15, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Does the statistic of 0.1 guns per 100 people in Tunisia include the guns owned by the security forces that were indiscriminately firing into crowds of demonstrators during the protests?

Say, what does the failed coup in Bahrain and the successful coup in Egypt (resulting in a military dictatorship) have in common?: They were both backed by the CIA. Ever heard of Amber Lyon? You should probably Google her.

And while I agree that even with the highest percentage of private gun ownership in the United States, this has not prevented the country from sliding into a fascist police state, it might just be prudent to own a couple firearms for defense as we continue to deteriorate into third world nation.
Posted by Spindles on January 15, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
treacle 38
@37 - Even in third world nations you don't needs guns, you just build a 12' wall around your compound and top it with broken glass. Minimizes the armed robberies quite effectively.

What the "guns prevent tyranny" crowd doesn't realize is that we aren't living in a pastoralist archetype anymore, this is the 21st century. The 2000 election was an "American style" coup, and no one managed to stop it. The slide towards a fascist police state, as Spindles here mentions, has been going on the legal, corporate-ownership, and media fronts... American-style. Soft invasion. Not the "we'll invade your land and house our soldiers in your homes" situation that personal guns would actually be useful against. Also, America is a huge land, not very easy to effectively rally the entire nation to any single cause, let alone "opposition" to "tyranny", even if we could decide what "tyranny" actually looked like. Hell, people can't even agree on common words used in political arguments (eg. "socialism"), shur as shootin' we're not gonna agree on confrontin' tyranny.

We have and can build other (social) tools to confront the abuses of power. In fact, I believe that the show of force against the Occupy protests belies exactly how scared they are.
Posted by treacle on January 15, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
McGee 39
@22 Hahahahahahahaha! Keep day-dreaming you fat, drunken shut-in.
Posted by McGee on January 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
about 25 years from now the rapidly shrinking middle class will be completely gone and 80% of the populace will be addled on "happy-drug" pharmaceuticals hampering their critical thinking skills and rendering them completely dependent and malleable [yeah, thats right; the reason the world seems shitty is because it increasingly....IS ]. Throw in a moderately sized terrorist event or two; a dead ocean. It's probable that most people will be worse off. All of the wealth and power will be increasingly siphoned off to a small group at the top as we willingly eschew personal responsibility and self sustainability.

So you guys trust that this ever shrinking power class is incorruptible?? I can only hope that some right-wing nut jobs out there are squirreling away tanks and missile launchers in a mountain bunker.
Posted by carsten coolage on January 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
note: I'm just playing the contrarian here. Please dont forward my rants to the feds. :]
Posted by carsten coolage on January 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Could it be that the successful uprisings were actually CIA backed, and those unsuccessful were CIA opposed. Nah, that's just a conspiracy...wait, I think I hear a drone overhead...
Posted by liberty4all on January 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Jesus. How many times do you guys have to rehash the same dispelled myths over and over. Both sides of this.

Small arms absolutely CAN take on a larger military force.

Get this through your heads:
The long history of the ability of motivated insurgent groups with large caches of small arms to disrupt government institutions and fracture societies IS A REASON FOR GUN CONTROL. Not a reason to be against it.
Posted by tkc on January 18, 2013 at 3:32 PM · Report this
There are hundreds of us meeting weekly in discussions to take steps to overthrow our tyrannical government. If this gun ban is passed, we are prepared to intimate our plans....Feinstein goes first....
Posted by Dead politicians soon on January 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM · Report this

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