An oft mentioned talking point for gun control enthusiasts is this idea that the second amendment is no longer relevant as a protection against tyrannical government due to the overwhelming sophistication and might of the modern US military. If true, this would be a terrifying state of affairs indeed. Just imagining a President Trump at the helm of the US war machine is enough to evoke shear panic at the thought of such a frightening contention. And to some extent, the assertion sounds plausible. After all, the United States spends more on its military each year than the next twenty five or so countries combined. But what would really happen if a conflict somehow plunged the United States into a second civil war between armed citizens and the US military? The results, I’m afraid would not be pretty… for the government that is.
Statistics and past experience do not bode well for the side of government forces in such a conflict. For one, our military, for all its technological prowess and capabilities, has not proven itself to be particularly adept at combating a determined insurgency. Anywhere. Furthermore, depending on the impetus for such an insurrection, judging by the sheer number of weapons held privately by US citizens, Military and Police forces could easily find themselves immensely outnumbered. The US military is big, but it ain’t 100 million people big, which is the low-ball estimate for the number of gun owners currently residing in the US. Of course, a lot of this would depend on how the conflict came to be, as to how many would be inspired to take up arms against a tyrannical superpower. But suppose we examine this in the context of the very contentious issue that tends to bring this discussion to the forefront in the first place: Gun Control.
Let’s image a hypothetical in which the US has decided to ban all or most firearms, even without repealing the second amendment. Sure, this may sound a bit farfetched, yet, when you look at what gun control enthusiasts pine for, this is something out of a gun controller’s wet dream. Under this scenario, it is likely that our government would institute an “Australian style gun buyback”, the holy grail of gun grabbers across the nation. Compliance would likely be almost non-existent, as even the Australian government admits that approximately 70 percent of their gun owning population did not turn in their firearms. A US gun buyback would almost certainly be marred by even less cooperation than the Australians encountered. So, this would put politicians in the awkward position of having to enforce the new law, a proposition that is much easier said than done.
Most enforcement would likely consist of local police forces aggressively taking guns off the street that are used in crimes, just as before except now, even possessing certain kinds of weapons would be a criminal offense. Some localities might even take the bold initiative of going door to door in order to confiscate known weapons caches. This would be an incredibly dangerous situation for law enforcement and I suspect many would refuse to execute these types of warrants on the grounds that it would be much too dangerous to justify putting officer’s lives at risk. Inevitably, one or more of these “routine” confiscation exercises would go awry causing tensions to escalate. For many, this would be the initial skirmish that signals it’s time to act.
Various groups around the country would begin to form into private militia’s intent on maintaining the rights that they hold dear. Any outside interference would be met with fierce resistance and would only serve to embolden those who do not share the government’s vision of curtailed rights. As the situation deteriorates, we would begin to see the “rebels” starting to take the offensive, lashing out at those they perceive as persecuting their deeply held beliefs. Attacks would begin to embody a more coordinated appearance as members of the military and law enforcement begin to pick sides. Keep in mind that many in law enforcement share an affinity for legal civilian firearms ownership and use. Members of the military and law enforcement who defect could possibly end up serving as spies or double agents or may even choose to supply direct materiel support to the rebels. As the insurgency continues to grow, the US military would be called in to restore order, and this is when all hell would break loose. Once the Posse Comitatus Act has been violated, there’s no turning back. The gloves have come off, so to speak.
At this point, the situation on the ground would be a no win scenario for the armed forces and police. If even %10 of gun owners took up arms in defense of their rights, every branch of the US military and every Police Force across the nation combined would be outnumbered 10 to 1. What’s more, it would be exceedingly difficult to strategize against an insurgency that mostly presents itself as a disjointed network of soft targets that would be interspersed throughout the civilian population. This would render most heavy weaponry useless without allowing for a catastrophic amount of collateral damage. Nope, this war would be ugly and personal. Militias working under the leadership of defected military and police officers would begin to systematically conduct raids on military supply lines which would be nearly impossible to protect due to their location within US borders. Remember, we couldn’t even defeat an insurgency that had no ability whatsoever to attack our military supply chains. Boy things would be different at home. In addition to raids, there would be numerous assassinations and attempts. Public officials would be nowhere to be found as it would be far too dangerous for them to appear in public. Many would simply abandon their posts altogether causing utter chaos to ensue. Not a pretty picture.
I will not pretend to presume to know how such a conflict would turn out in the end, but suffice it to say, I don’t think we’d like to find out any time soon either. So perhaps, the gun control enthusiasts might like to rethink their position with regards to how the second amendment is, and always will be, our last vestige of protection against a tyrannical government. Even one as technologically advanced as our own.