THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 20, December 15, 1996.

'Wars Aren't Fought With Guns Any More'

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         J.D. a sincere young fellow, writes:
         "Something I wish that you or someone would explain to me sometime. Seems you are a supporter of the Second Amendment. It is not a hot issue for me; I'm neither a gun owner nor a hunter (I've just never been able to look into the eyes of an animal and then shoot it!) But there are some things I really don't understand:
         "The supporters of the right to keep and bear arms insist that guns are needed to protect us from the government. But -- they've got rockets. They've got nukes. Wars aren't fought with guns anymore. Guns didn't help at Waco or Ruby Ridge (if anything they made the problem worse.) Or am I missing something here?
         "Also, it seems like there's a lot of money greasing the RKBA movement. I tend to suspect that it's not so much that the supporters want to see us armed to protect us from the government, foreign invaders, or whatever. I suspect it's because there's a lot of profit to be made in guns, and especially in ammo. Ammunition is a marketer's dream; it's a consumable!
         "Nobody ever talks about how much money is made in the gun and ammunition markets. But I really wonder, personally, how much the profit motive is behind a lot of the hysteria?
         "And after all, there is something to be said for keeping automatic weapons out of the hands of some nut who is about to 'go postal'. I can even understand the hunters wanting to keep their rifles, but why on earth does anyone need an automatic or semi-automatic weapon?
         "All I ever see is rhetoric -- you question the RKBA and you're branded as a pinko commie nut. But it just seems to me that people are devoid of logic in discussing this issue. Perhaps you could give it a try?
         "Thanks -- J.D."

# # #

         A common enough inquiry, but very concisely summarized.
         I responded:
         Hi, J. D. -- I've heard this argument before, many times. It still puzzles me why those who pose it fail to see its inherent contradiction.
         First, you propose: "The supporters of the RKBA insist that guns are needed to protect us from the government. But -- they've got rockets. They've got nukes. Wars aren't fought with guns anymore. Guns didn't help at Waco or Ruby Ridge (if anything they made the problem worse)."
         Then, you conclude: "I can even understand the hunters wanting to keep their rifles, but why on earth does anyone need an automatic or semi-automatic weapon?"
         The problem here is a faulty premise. You offer that because the "government has rockets; they've got nukes," wars "aren't fought with guns anymore."
         Try telling that to the Viet Cong, or the Afghans.
         First the Japanese (1942-1945), then the French (1945-1954) and finally the Americans fought to suppress the independence fighters of Vietnam with the aid of state-of-the-art aircraft, artillery, offshore battleships, bombs, and any other manner of high-tech warmaking stuff you care to name.
         The Viet Cong had none of these, except for some 30-year-our-of-date small artillery pieces that could be disassembled and carried by hand up muddy jungle paths, their components slung over bamboo poles.
         Yet the Viet Cong won. Except for the internal Marxist suppression they've foolishly imposed on THEMSELVES, they're free today.
         The Russians had state-of-the-art Hind helicopters, fuel-air explosives, tanks, artillery, land mines, poison gas, and any other mad devices of modern war you care to name, with which to suppress a bunch of rag-tag irregular Afghani tribesmen who enjoyed the benefit of none of this stuff.
         Yet the Afghans won. They're free of foreign domination today.
         Why? In each case, those people won their freedom with one basic implement -- the very instrument of which Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer would deprive us: the select-fire hand-held assault rifle. Generally, the AK-47 with its familiar curved "banana clip" 30-round magazine, and its variants.
         Illiterate Afghan goatherds and Vietnamese rice farmers go to sleep with one of these things nestled next to the bed. Yet if I'm caught with one, I -- who in 46 years have never done physical harm to another person -- face 10 years in the clink. Why?
         (In fact, at times the VC were reduced to fighting with 1891 model bolt action Czarist-surplus Moisin-Nagants, and the Afghans with 1903-era bolt-action British Enfield rifles. Even then they could not be defeated.)
         But let's say you're correct, and that the restrictions already in place on what arms can be owned by private Americans make them a less and less credible deterrent to domestic government tyranny.
         Here is the heart of the inconsistency in your argument. If that's the case, surely the answer is not to take further steps to "keep automatic weapons out of our hands," but rather to sweep away all 20,000 laws currently violating the Second Amendment, making it clear that private citizens by right can and should be encouraged to purchase machine guns, mortars, and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles over the counter at Home Depot, without being asked to show any damned permit, or even so much as sign their names.
         Isn't it?

# # #

         I submit that the Second Amendment ought to be a "hot issue" to you and to all other Americans -- even those who choose to own no firearms.
         Those who own no firearms are at the mercy of those who do. To assume the government will always use its armed force in a way benevolent to you is naive, at best.
         You may say, "But they haven't come to shoot my dog and rape my sister yet." Well, of course. So long as even a sizeable plurality of your fellow citizens retain the means to resist the usurpation of our liberties, more than you will ever know you rely on their vigilance to discourage potential tyrants from stealing away your liberties.
         These individual armed freedom-lovers needn't go around shooting IRS men -- and they don't. Just as the knowledge that our NATO troops were in place -- ready to resist Soviet aggression -- kept the European peace from 1948 to 1991, so does the mere threat of an armed populace help keep potential domestic tyrants in line ... as the framers of the Second Amendment so well understood.
         But if these "night watchmen" were to fall asleep and allow their "deadly destructive devices" to be lifted from their motionless hands, we'd quickly see then how kindly the last remaining armed gang -- the government gang -- remained.
         In their book "Lethal Laws," Aaron Zelman and his associates at Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership have exhaustively documented how the genocides of the Armenians in Turkey in 1915, of the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs under Hitler from 1942-45, of the Ukrainians and others under Stalin, and of millions more under Mao and Pol Pot, all were preceded (usually by only a few years) by "well-meaning" laws mandating civilian victim disarmament.
         Contact the JPFO in Milwaukee at 414-769-0760, or 414-769-1491. Buy and read their moderately-priced books. Someday, the lives of those you love may depend upon the knowledge contained therein. John Ross' docu-novel "Unintended Consequences," from Accurate Press in Missouri, can also be an eye-opener.
         I'm not a hunter, either. I once did look into the eyes of an animal I loved, and shoot it. A cat just can't understand why the pain won't go away, after it's had its back broken and dragged itself home a mile or more, in agony, in the hopes you can help.
         If I ever have to kill an armed government thug to protect a member of my family, I hope I can find it in myself to wipe away such tears again. But they will be tears of regret at what soulless creatures the government eventually makes of its own minions, not of regret at having acted to save my bloodline and their liberties.

# # #

         Guns helped a lot at Waco and Ruby Ridge. The first attacking oppressors were killed -- killings so well-justified that in both cases citizen juries acquitted on all charges having to do with the shooting deaths of the federal marshal and the ninja-suited ATF assailants.
         We thus learned that these enemies of freedom are not invincible, and that killing them when they attack us isn't even against the law ... no matter what the snarling, choleric federal prosecutors may contend. To say "guns didn't help" is like saying "guns didn't help" in the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943 "because the Jews lost, anyway."
         Really? They should have just boarded the last trains to the death camps in quiet resignation?
         Instead, troops otherwise desperately needed on the Russian front were tied up for months. And -- against all odds -- a few Jews escaped and survived. But most of all, an example was set, that the Nazis could be resisted, even by common folk with no military training -- even by a supposedly "subhuman species" armed with the kind of outdated odds and ends that today would likely be melted down for scrap.
         My heart thrills to think of it. God bless such "hopeless" freedom fighters. If the government isn't afraid of "a couple hundred wacko black-helicopter conspiracy nuts running around in camouflage suits with their deer rifles," why is the FBI shifting literally thousands of agents to the task of infiltrating, setting up with agents provocateurs, framing and railroading into prison the leaders of every citizen militia they can find? What are the guys with "the bombs and the nukes" so afraid of, pray tell?
         You say "guns only made things worse" at Waco and Ruby Ridge. I guess so. Christians in the lions' den "only made things worse" by refusing to bow to the Roman idols; European Jews by refusing to convert to Christianity. What are our rights and principles, anyway, that we should risk our lives in their hopeless defense?
         Since the Nazis would sometimes kill 10 residents of a village in occupied France or Czechoslovakia in retaliation for the death of one Nazi occupier, it could be said that such resistance to Nazi occupation "only made things worse." So, would you advise those living under the heel of such a tyrant to just collaborate and make the best of it?
         The final echoes of Waco and Ruby Ridge have not yet been heard. The British lived to regret the Boston Massacre; Santa Ana the Alamo. We'll see.

# # #

         As for the profitability of the gun business, given the total uncertainty about which new regulations will crop up tomorrow, either because of congressional action or because the BATF, on a whim, simply "re-interprets" existing laws (often retroactively, jailing a few dozen more honest gun dealers for not properly filling out some totally unnecessary and unconstitutional form), I'd hardly advise it as a lucrative investment.
         Did you know I can go to jail now for mounting the wrong kind of wooden hand-grip on one of my otherwise perfectly-legal rifles? Not a silencer, not a "nasty" 40-round magazine. A fixed wooden handle.
         The big fortunes in the gun business have been made by inventors and marketers of new stuff, like Sam Colt in Hartford, and the folks who bought out John Mose Browning's patents for Winchester in New Haven.
         God bless them. I wish they'd earned twice as much. The free market is supposed to encourage invention and progress. President Washington, in his first address to the Second Congress, called firearms "the eye teeth of liberty" and said "We should keep them near us always."
         We weren't at war. The last Redcoat had departed years before. Nor was he talking about protecting ourselves from burglars or bears. No, he spoke of "liberty."
         Don't you think liberty is good? Why wouldn't we want infinitely more and better "eye teeth of liberty" in the hands of the individual American citizen?
         But you can forget about the new breakthroughs in firearm design -- profitable or not -- coming from this country in the next century. Federal licenses are now required to tinker with state-of-the-art military weapons on your basement workbench -- licenses as scarce as hen's teeth.
         No, our enemies will shortly have the newest, most potent, most reliable new arms -- and their technological lead over us will improve, decade by decade. Isn't that a pleasant thought?

# # #

         Anyway, if you think the profits in manufacturing ammunition are obscene, get into the business. Anyone can reload old brass on a home workbench for the investment of only a few hundred dollars, and sell the stuff for a profit at local gun shows. The basic skills can be learned in a few hours.
         Of course, you'll be competing with imported surplus foreign-made stuff, so you may not find the margins quite as high as you think. I assume if some American manufacturer could make a weapon as good as a semi-automatic Chinese SKS short rifle, or the 100-year-old surplus Swedish Mauser, and sell it for less then the $110 or so they're each now going for, such a weapon would already be offered for sale. Give it a try. It's just a steel tube and some wood.
         Money can be made, I assure you. Go for it!
         Why complain about others making money in a field which you are perfectly free to enter, yourself, in your spare time? That's like the lazy grasshopper complaining because the busy ant has stored up too much food.
         For that matter, if "Ammunition is a marketer's dream" because "it's a consumable!", you might also think about setting up a grocery store. As there's no expenditure less "discretionary" than food, which is 100 percent "consumable," those guys must be raking it in hand over fist.
         And finally, as to "keeping automatic weapons out of the hands of some nut who is about to 'go postal'," do you have any idea what the ratio is of innocent people killed by drunks wielding Chevrolets, compared to the number of people killed by nuts wielding already heavily-regulated automatic rifles -- or even the kind of "assault weapons" Sen. Feinstein has been trying to ban, which aren't automatic at all?
          Where is the nationwide campaign to ban Chevvies? You can't even defend your daughter against a would-be rapist with a Chevrolet ... we have virtually no demonstrable NEED for the things, at all. And there certainly isn't one whole article of the Bill of Rights devoted to guaranteeing us our "right to a personal means of transportation" ... is there?
         Best Wishes of the Holiday Season,

         -- V.S.


Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.


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