Are Guns Really a Friend of Freedom?



The right to bear arms assumes that an armed citizenrey is a bulwark of
human freedom. But I wonder if this point of view stands up to honest
scrutiny. I mean, can anyone actually come up with a historical example of
an armed citizenry successfully resisting a dictatorship? The usual example
that is trotted out is 1776, what with all those rough-and-ready minutemen
successfully defeating the Redcoats. Well, I hate to be a myth-buster, but
the British were defeated in the American War of Independence by a
professional, French-trained military that was subject to all the iron
discipline of the most "absolutist" of European states. Anyone who knows
anything about the weaponry available to the 13 colonies knows that 18thC
muskets were pretty much useless in what we now call "guerilla warfare",
the very same kind of warfare that America's mythology glorifies every 4th
of July. Once again, it was disciplined soldiers fighting in ordered ranks
that defeated Cornwallis, not Daniel Boone look-alikes.

Now, what exactly have guns in the hands of private citizens given us?
Well, in the Russia of 1917, a cabal of ruthless, bloodthirsty radicals
(the Bolsheviks) swept to power on the strength of guns in private hands.
The gov't of Alexander Kerensky was all for enforcing a ban of the private
ownership of firearms, but the Bolsheviks, with their supply of (private)
weapons, were able to overthrow him, and we all know what happened next.
Until they took power, the Bolsheviks were nothing more than a
"rough-and-ready" group of politicized citizens, and certainly had nothing
to do with the "state" as it then was.

Then we have European fascism. Post-WWI Germany was positively awash with
weapons, and almost none of them were in the hands of the state. But the
Communists and the extreme nationalists (who eventually morphed into the
Nazis) had plenty of guns. There were several communist uprisings in 1919
- involving armed private citizens - as well as Hitler's notorious
beerhall putsch in 1923, also involving armed private citizens attempting
to overthrow a constitutionally-empowered legal government.

Since we are on the subject, why not look at Cambodia? The Khmer Rouge,
until they actually managed to seize power, were nothing more than a pack
of private armed citizens. Exactly how did the AK47's of the Khmer Rouge
"liberate" the people of Cambodia?

And finally, how about the Taleban and/or Al-Qaeda? Just like the
Bolsheviks, the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, the Taleban were just private
citizens prior to their seizure of power in Afghanistan. For that matter,
so are are all warlord armies, be they Afghan tribesmen, Southeast Asian
opium-taipans, Colombian cicaine-lords, Somali warlords, or the "soldiers"
in the army of Al Capone in early 20thC Chicago. The historical record on
warlordism is extensive, and in each and every case, they were propped up
by the weapons of armed private citizens.

Doesn't the same hold true of Al-Qaeda?

I'm sorry, but the usual assertion that guns = freedom simply doesn't pan
out in the real world. I suppose that in theory and armed citizenry is
impossible to oppress, but is there some sort of guarantee that an armed
citizenrry is inherently freedom-loving? Not only that, once again I throw
down the challenge to all those who equate gun ownership with freedom: show
me the historical evidence.


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