THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 165, March 18, 2002
Ides of March
Disarmament Through Obsolescence
by Patrick K Martin
Exclusive to TLE
I’m going to assume that the readers of this publication understand that the Second Amendment was designed to insure that the people of this country would always have the means to alter or abolish an oppressive government. The writings of the founders were most explicit on the matter, as anyone who reads the Federalist Papers can plainly see. Thus, the only weapons expressly protected by the Amendment are military ones, and despite an almost seventy-year assault on this principle, we still possess the most basic of all such weapons, the semiautomatic rifle. How long this will remain true is anybody’s guess, but recently I began to wonder whether or not it will matter.
Since the September 11 attack, there has been a great deal of interest in the media about the state of our military preparedness. Quite a few of these shows, have dealt with new weapons and equipment which the military is currently working on. While much of this is the normal high-tech wiz-bang dog-and-pony show, one thing caught my attention very quickly, body armor! Even as you read this, our forces in Afghanistan are equipped with armor capable of withstanding hits from the ubiquitous AK-47 and even the more powerful 7.62NATO weapons, albeit only if struck in the center where a ceramic and metal plate provides extra protection. The issue I have is not with the current armors however, but with the new types even now being developed. These new armors hold the promise of rendering our soldiers and others essentially invulnerable to any weapons currently available to us.
New uniforms, custom fitted to the individual soldier or policemen, are expected to provide protection from bullets delivering up to 2000 foot-pounds of energy (for those of you who are less knowledgeable about weapons, an AK-47 delivers only about 1500fpe at the muzzle, and a .308 sniper-rifle will only deliver 2000fpe or more at less than 150 meters, trust me that is a LOT of energy), and the actual armor the troops will wear will withstand 15,000fpe, which is more than the .50 caliber machine gun delivers at the muzzle. Also, the use of new energy absorbent materials will reduce, or even prevent, blunt force trauma injuries. What does this mean to you and me? It means that when the government techno-ninjas storm our "compound," in an effort to arrest the "right-wing militia anarchists," people won’t be seeing the jack-booted thugs retreating with their dead, because there won’t be any. Instead, like some bad science-fiction movie, the black-clad storm-troopers will advance through a hail of bullets, soaking up round after round of ammunition, advancing steadily to spray death from the chattering muzzles of their unregistered machine guns at point-blank range.
The 1950's and ‘60's were, in many ways, a golden age for weapons development. New space-age materials like plastic and aluminum were used for the first time. Weapons like the Dardick, which was expected to deliver 100,000 rounds per minute from a single barrel, or the Gyrojet rocket weapons, promised to revolutionize weaponry, but the "Gun-Control Act of 1968" put a stop to all of that. GCA ‘68 put the basement inventors out of business by treating them like real firearms manufactures. Huge licensing fees, storage requirements, inspections, and other regulations, meant that the little guy with a new idea would be required to spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to pursue what was essentially a hobby. Most were simply unable to do it, and so they gave up. The John Moses Browning’s and the Hiram S. Maxim’s were shut out, and private innovation in the field of firearms all but disappeared. I have begun to wonder if this was less than accidental.
Throughout history, tyrannical governments have known that to wreak their will, they must first disarm the people. No armed population has ever been oppressed without first being disarmed. In the case of America, our long history of weapons ownership, and our jealous regard for our rights, makes the removal of our firearms more difficult than most. Even in the 1960's, the trend toward ever more powerful weapons was clear to any who studied the subject, and for those who know history, as the weapons become more powerful, new means of defense are developed. Now I do not wish to imply that somebody sat down and said, "You know, one day we will have body armor that a regular gun won’t penetrate . . . " But what if someone simply decided that if the weapons of the government became more powerful, and the weapons of the civilian population did not, the government might be in a position to overpower any resistance quickly and with relative ease.
The trend toward this kind of limitation on civilian weapons has continued. The McClure-Volkmer of 1986 prohibits anyone from building a fully-automatic weapon unless they had an approved government contract. The "Assault Weapons" ban prohibits anyone from bringing new military style weapons into the country, and has now been amended to prevent anyone from making them domestically, unless they leave out certain features. Well, what about new weapons technology? I recently saw a program which showed a pistol which fired rockets (the Gyrojet was the first such weapon and it was used in Vietnam, at least experimentally). Do you think Ruger will be selling them anytime soon? There are rumors of a "Rail-gun," which fires projectiles electromagnetically, small enough for one man to carry (where have I seen that before?), do you think Colt will make any for us?
The point is that in ten or fifteen years from now, we the people could be armed to the teeth with weapons as obsolete as flintlocks (or even more-so, as a flintlock is still capable of killing today as it was in the American revolution). We may face a time when, like the days of Knights in armor, an armed elite, invulnerable to the weapons of the peasants, does with us as they see fit. Unrestrained by the fear of revolt by the serfs, what would our government become? Whether or not we are seeing the result of a conscious policy, or simply an unintended consequence of victim-disarmament laws matters little. We may have only a few years to reverse this trend which will allow the forces of government to act with impunity, or face that time when we, "... fight only because it is better to die, than to live as slaves."
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