Politics Thread


I’m referring to militias ands its duty as implied by the Second Amendment.


Militias rarely take arms against their mother country. They are often too ill-equipped or unorganized to really pose a challenge to a rowdy group of Spring Breakers, much less an entire country.


I’m calling it a night. We can continue tomorrow.


I don’t think you understand my question. The Second Amendment states that there needs to be a well-armed and well-organized militia so as to prevent against a tyrannical government. This is used by opponents of gun regulation to argue against gun regulation. My question is: if all militia groups are funded and controlled by the government (as is the case in the US), how likely and how easily can these militia oppose the government should it become tyrannical?


State governments and the federal governments are separate entities, so a federal government becoming tyrannical doesn’t mean an individual state has also fallen to that level.


A militia would not pose a threat to the conventional military. Militias are trained to handle large scale civil disobedience, not warfare. As a consequence, they do not have aircraft, artillery, heavily armored land units, boats, antiaircraft, ect. In your scenario, @hahaha01357, the military would probably just bomb the unruly militia’s location with an unmanned drone.


I’m not talking about a militia vs government scenario. How well militias can perform against professional militaries is irrelevant to this discussion. I’m saying that the Second Amendment gives the militia a duty to keep the government in check and that is used by opponents of gun regulation as an argument for their position. I’m asking how likely can the militia carry out this duty if they are funded and controlled by the government, how likely and how well they can carry out that duty.


For a militia to “keep the government in check,” the militia would need tanks, drones, aircraft carrier (with aircraft!), and ultimately nuclear weapons.

Unless the NRA wants to support such a move, its argument seems illogical (and I’m being nice there).


…I’ve answered your question several times. It is impossible for the militia to keep the government in check due to the lack of advanced weapons and leverage.


Why do you keep insisting on focusing on the wrong part of the question? As I said before - ignore the militia’s equipment and training - they are irrelevant to the discussion. If you want, you can even imagine a government without a professional army and relies solely on militias for defence. Again, the strength of the militia forces is not the focus of the discussion. What is the focus is how likely militia will turn on a tyrannical government when their training and equipment are provided-for by said government.



Well, if we assume a cynical viewpoint, people in general are self-serving, so a militia would not fight against their government because it’s their duty to protect people from the government. A militia would only take up arms against the government that funds them if they are directly impacted in some way–either there is a reward if they fight or a punishment if they don’t. For example, if they or their families have begun to suffer underneath the tyrannical government they would be compelled to fight. It’s likely that the government employees (like the militia) would be protected from the injustices of tyranny, but their families might not be. On the other hand, they may fight if there is a possibility of monetary gain by raiding rich politician’s houses or stealing high-end military equipment and then selling it. Or they might fight if they stand to gain political power; there may be a possibility of shaping the next government or even becoming the next government. But if that happens, we’ve simply replaced one tyrannical government with another.

So really, a government-funded militia created to protect against the government wouldn’t work. The only militia that could and would stop a tyrannical government would be a civilian-run militia.


I think this topic has been discussed thoroughly enough, so let’s move on.
What are your views on abortion? Do agree with it or disagree with it? Or are you in favor of it in certain circumstances? State your viewpoint and explain your reasoning.



“there’s Northern Ireland. The IRA didn’t get everything they were asking for, but that wasn’t my point. Government repression failed against them, despite said government having plenty of tanks and helicopters – which proved largely irrelevant to this kind of a conflict.”

Not really. If anything, government repression worked wonders on the IRA (the fact that just the one label doesn’t really work is a decent indication), it just took way, way, way too long to bite. But once the British started getting somewhat serious and the Republic of Ireland realized the Provos were as much of a danger to them as they were to anybody else they started circling the toilet. No the least of which by starting to knock out the major bases and support infrastructure, but also by pressuring the US and other major hot spots for the Irish Diaspora to start cutting the IRA’s funding.

Once the IRA started to realize their chances of winning against both sides of the border were slim and the strains of the conflict caused ruptures to appear, the governments then exploited that with various concessions (a lot of which were coming anyway and were arguably held back to use at the bargaining table) to fracture the Provos into pieces. With the result being that the Provisional IRA got very little of what they wanted and the more radical offshoots got even less.

Certainly it didn’t just boil down to government repression, but then what competent anti-insurgency strategy does?

“In general, insurgencies in rich countries tend to fail not because rich governments repress them more effectively, but because people have much more to gain by playing within the system, so anti-system movements struggle to pick up and sustain steam.”

I think there is a very strong point there, but I’m not sure that’s what it entire boils down to, or even is the main thing. Ireland itself is a decent example; based on that logic the Irish revolutions of 1916 would not have happened (and probably shouldn’t have anyway). On top of that, rich governments (or those that are rich where it counts as Machiavelli might say; that the sinews are not purely gold but also good soldiers) do generally repress more effectively. That doesn’t mean it is always enough, but the compare/contrast is worth noting; the Spanish and US fared very differently against more or less the same enemies in the 19th century Philippines for a reason.

“Where you have a determined, armed minority, even in rich countries they can fight the government with tragic impact for a very long time. See the Basques.”

Agreed, though I’m not altogether sure whether Spain during the height of the Basque conflicts would count as rich for the purposes of this discussion. The 19th century wars made the ETA look like a bunch of fluffy kittens, and it happened around a catastrophic doldrums for Spain.

"The “groundwork” I had in mind is the NRA’s relentless movement-building, which has among other things turned the refrain of “we need guns to protect ourselves from the government” from a laughable fringe belief to a fairly mainstream bit of Republican political rhetoric. "

The problem is that it was never really a laughable fringe belief; some quick dumpster diving into the history of American political discourse shows it was remarkably common.

“he way to protect yourself from the American government is to politically organize with other like-minded people (e.g. all that “community organization” that President Obama was so mocked for, and which has nonetheless won him elections despite his highly mixed track record in office) and get people elected who share your concerns.”

I agree for the most part; by and large that is the proper way to do things and more drastic measures are unnecessary at present. That doesn’t mean I would always write it off, though.

By and large I subscribe to McDonald’s boxes (even though he was a Democrat) on how things should go. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_boxes_of_liberty Let the remedy be tailored to the situation.

“The NRA understands that, and that’s what they’re really all about. The whole idea of household gun ownership as protection against tyranny is ideological window-dressing.”

As a card-carrier for that organization, I’d personally object to that. While I do believe they understand it (they’d better, given the dues I’ve paid…grumble grumble…), I wouldn’t write it off as “ideological window dressing”, or even the main part of it. Yes, there are doubtless soulless opportunists here and there, and even beyond them I do think the main focus has been on doing that community organizing.

I just would say that the gallivanting about gun ownership as protection against crime and tyranny is very valid.

“People who take it seriously begin to say very silly things about how countries without private gun ownership are at risk of sliding into authoritarianism or chaos.”

I’m sure the Weimar Republic would agree if it was still around. But the problem is that it’s not, and we do see several cases where exactly that happened (less chaos and more authoritarianism, though).

The Weimar Republic’s gun registration was an attempt to keep terrorist organizations (let’s be blunt here) like the Nazis, the German Communist Party, and the various Freikorps and Spartakists from having guns. In practice it just disarmed the general populace and increased the strength of said terrorists relevant to the general populace and the government itself, to the point where even its’ best defenders (like Reichbanner) had to go paramilitary just to hold their own.

When that no longer worked, devastation followed. And it wasn’t even the only case, as we can see by the utter inability of anybody to stop a relatively amateurish putsch in St.Petersburg ushering in a Soviet nightmare. So we know there is a connection, because we’ve seen it happen.

That doesn’t mean I believe everybody has to have a gun, the more guns the better, or the other claptrap. Weapons floating uncontrollably through a system tends to bring chaos, not prevent it. But some reasonable level of registration, training, and legal protection imposed on them is a far better deterrent against tyranny, terrorism, and crime than a gunless law code alone.

“The real protection against tyranny is the ability to organize to hold the government to account, and the virtue of the American system is that it does that just fine without the threat of violence. Including, notably, for the gun lobby.”

The virtue of the American system is that it was able to get this way because of a combination of organization (as like the Continental Congress) *and* the fact that they were well armed enough to put thousands of British regulars and “Hessian” mercenaries into the ground (and even then while constantly begging for supplies from the Bourbons and Dutch). Take away one of those two things and the history of the American system would be very, very different.

That includes the former as well as the latter; a bunch of scatterbrained militia with guns and no direction was a big enough problem with something approaching the proper organization; God only knows what would have happened without it, and I think the same applies here. On the whole, I agree that our system’s genius is that it works well without bayonets hanging over head, and By God it should stay that way.

The way I view both my own weapons and the NRA (for all their problems) is as insurance on the off chance that doesn’t stay that way, and it doesn’t in a bad enough way that it might be necessary or at least useful.

I dearly hope I never have to consider using either in any serious capacity.

“makes his case well as usual.”




" @P_Tigras makes his case well as usual. "

Agreed indeed. Kudos to him.

"So I’ll use his words to describe the dystopian downside of the current US gun regime: it gives even a 10% minority of the population, if sufficiently ideological, the power to wage guerrilla war against a legitimately elected government and terrorize their fellow citizens.

That’s also happened in plenty of countries."

The problem I see with this is that it assumes a sufficiently ideological minority of extremists has ever needed an absence of gun laws (or even possession of guns themselves) to do it.

The Weather Underground and co did both in some of the most gun-unfriendly states of the Union just fine with homemade bombs. They did so little damage not because of gun laws, but because of their own incompetence and the skill of those who ran them to ground. Ditto the more severe terrorist attacks we remember.

Likewise, the Nazis, German Communist party, etc. took one look at the Weimar Republic’s draconian gun control legislation and blew a big, fat raspberry. Before waging war on a legitimately elected government, their fellow citizens, and each other in a way that has few parallels in American history (I think the Civil War and the Klan miiiiight count).

People have never needed guns to wage war or kill; it just helps a lot. And I think a sufficiently radical group or individual will break whatever laws they need to and can to wage their war.

“US gun advocates’ dystopian arguments generally fail to move Europeans; surely a key reason is that for millions, armed domestic insurgency is a far more recent experience than totalitarianism (eg Spaniards, Brits, Germans, Italians).”

An interesting point and quite likely, though Ia m not sure about the Germans. The East German regime was both a hideous totalitarian regime and the number one sponsor of armed domestic insurgency on German soil, and both petered out at about the same time.

Beyond that I can understand their perspective, though I am not sure the history supports that reading.

“Though I know which dystopia I find more plausible, we’re leagues away from either disaster in the US, so frankly it’s a bit of a sideshow.”

Agreed absolutely



Well said both of you. I agree on the whole.


Historically well-informed and thought-provoking as usual. I was suggesting that the IRA got quite a lot of what they wanted in N Ireland, and that this involved major step-downs by a UK government that had previously sworn (and tried) to eradicate them. I think on that one, we’re both basically advancing a nuanced view in contrast to the post I was responding to, which was over-emphasising the role of pure military repression in counter-insurgency.

“I just would say that the gallivanting about gun ownership as protection against crime and tyranny is very valid.”

Well, let’s not conflate crime and tyranny here. :slight_smile: I was only deprecating the latter argument. The impact of gun laws on crime is a very different policy question than the relation of private gun ownership to democratic collapse. Crime’s also got its silly dys/utopian versions (“without guns we’d have anarchy/peace”) but there’s a much broader middle ground.

The fall of the Weimar Republic happened for a whole lot of reasons, and I’m not convinced the prism of gun control is a helpful one in making sense of it. In particular, I find it implausible that more guns in the “neutral” populace would have prevented the collapse. Hitler’s path to power, like Mussolini’s, involved several failures of nerve by the authorities to confront him at the right times – they tried co-opting him instead – and I don’t see an armed opposition successfully coalescing at any point along that path where their elected authorities had failed. At most, the barriers to entry for new militias might have been lowered – and what then?

I do agree that in heavily contested fragile states, gun laws (like many others) are unlikely to be respected. Advising, say, Colombia or Myanmar on an appropriate policy on private gun ownership is a minefield I’m not inclined to enter.

But prosperous, consolidated democracies have survived just fine with a very wide range of gun policies. Most people I know in the UK, for example, find it implausible and bizarre when Americans depict them as living under constant threat of tyranny because of the dearth of guns in the general populace.

“the fact that they were well armed enough to put thousands of British regulars and ‘Hessian’ mercenaries into the ground”

But of course, that was a totally different system – we were a colony with limited voice and recourse to make change within the system. The American government was designed precisely and explicitly to keep armed revolution from ever being necessary again; and it’s been extensively copied elsewhere because it works.

Our memory of being a colony pervades the American debate on guns, just as the trauma of armed domestic insurgency colors how many Europeans see the issue. I think we Americans would do well to step away from our own history a bit; it’s a tribute to our founders and American culture that the US system doesn’t need the direct threat of violence to stay accountable.


Um, are my posts invisible? Just kidding. This is really interesting, so keep discussing it. Kudos to all of you for providing fleshed-out opinions and facts to the table.


I actually have a bit to share as well.
I completely disagree with the whole ‘keep tyranny from occuring’ poop that the NRA tries to sell. Tyranny is not possible through the ‘check and balance’ system we currently have in place in the US. Besides, how could a few weekend warriors, armed with a couple of AR-15s (the civilian model of the M16, worst gun ever) hope to fight against well-armed, technologically superior, and, most importantly, TRAINED soldiers? Even if there was an outright revolution (think Civil War), not just a handful of extreme right nutjobs, the revolutionists have no tactics, no advanced weapons, nothing to really cause military casualties to be higher than their own. Guerilla warfare is an option, but most civvies don’t really know how to make explosives past a Molotov Cocktail, and we are trained to handle guerilla warfare. In fact, that’s a large basis of the military’s training now. An outright revolution would most likely last, at most, a month or two.

However, I am in full support of the use of firearms for self-defense. I don’t think that firearms should be restricted just to policemen and other security officials in public areas. I always have a concealed handgun on my body at all times, except at work and liquor shops (which is pretty illegal). I even bring my weapon to church, which is punishable by a heavy fine but well worth it if some nutjob comes in to off the pastor. Forgive me if I’m incorrect, but UK ‘bobbies’ do not carry firearms, right? So what is an English man supposed to do if a psycho machine-gun toting guy opens up in a mall that he is currently in? Gun restriction laws are pretty heavy in England, right? If that were to happen to me, my handgun would be out and I’d put the guy down before he could hurt anyone. Of course, there should be limits on who exactly can get a concealed permit. Instead of just a half-day course, the government should make some extra laws and regulations that demand that the tester can actually hit what they’re shooting at. I can speak from experience that a person who does not know how to shoot accurately and does not know basic firearm safety principles has no business owning a firearm, much less being entrusted to defend themselves and everyone around them with a concealed one.

To wrap my tangent up nicely, I belive that firearms should be entrusted to civilians, but only once they’ve proven themselves capable through rigorous testing capable of handling one. I also believe the ‘preventing tyranny’ dung is pure rubbish. The NRA needs a better excuse to justify heavy weapons in the hands of civilians.


@revan, visible, but abortion has been voted Least Fun Thing To Argue About On The Internet for twelve years running. I’m sticking with guns, which is seventh from bottom.

So what is an English man supposed to do if a psycho machine-gun toting guy opens up in a mall that he is currently in? Probably the same thing bystanders did in Isla Vista and all the recent gun sprees I’m aware of in the US. (Have armed civilians played a constructive role in any of them? Honest question, not rhetorical–I’d be interested to know).

Psycho with gun is a bad scenario no matter what. But it happens a lot less often over here in the UK-- especially since laws were tightened after the last time an armed loony hit a school in the 1990s. It really does seem to have reduced the ease with which violently inclined people get hold of guns. Not saying that will work in every context; but it seems to be working here.


@Havenstone An armed, trained civilian could easily stop a shooting spree. Take an attempted shooting spree that took place in Boston just before the American Revolution. A man, described as ‘possessed by the devil’ (mentally ill) opened fire outside a school with eight flintlock pistols while holding a swordcane, perhaps to use once he ran out of ammo. He fired a couple of shots, injuring a teacher, and was then put down by armed civilians that had their own firearms. He could have done a lot more damage if the armed, trained citizens were not present.
Sure, tightening laws will make it harder for citizens to get firearms. Criminals, however, will still find a way to get their heat, be it the black market or some other shady source. If a buglar wants to break into your house, he’ll find a way. Besides, guns aren’t needed to kill someone. They just make it a lot easier. A toaster could kill someone, but no one is crying for toaster restriction laws. I know, a toaster’s purpose isn’t to kill, but you still can do the dirty deed with it. People don’t have to kill each other or themselves with guns, but it happens to be a preferred weapon. Japanese laws have nearly eliminated all traces of guns, but they still have the highest suicide rate in the world, usually achieved by overdose or jumping in front of incoming trains. Japan also happens to be the home of the Yakuza, one of the most vicious mafias in the world, who still manage to get their hands on guns. The point in all of this is that guns aren’t nessicary for murder and suicide, they just help quite a bit.


They definitely could stop a shooting spree; I’m sure you could, for example. I don’t know how often it actually happens, though – surely a few times since the 18th century? – and that’s a key question for policy.

We aren’t living at the mercy of armed criminals over here in the UK, honest. Sure, the organised criminals still get their hands on guns, but on the rare occasions that they use them, they’re generally shooting at each other. The criminals who struggle are the dumb ones, the casual ones, the sociopathic teenagers or addicts… the ones more likely to hurt a guy like me. The policy is doing great at keeping guns out of their hands. As well as the jealous husbands, curious kids, pissed off drunk boys, and other non-criminals who might end up killing by impulse or accident – but are less likely to cause fatalities without a gun.

And we both agree that there’s a big difference between the damage an untrained or half-trained person can do with a gun and the damage they can do with a knife (or toaster). So yes, crime and violence will always be with us, but gun control is one plausible option for reducing the scale of the harm from them.