An Armed Populace is a Docile Populace

I’ve always been skeptical of the idea that an armed populace is the best defense against government tyranny. Don’t get me wrong, I live in an area with actual feral hogs — I totally get the rationale behind bearing arms for self-defense.

When seconds count, police are only 30-50 minutes away.

But stopping tyranny? The Confederate states had not just firearms but also state militias, and even they were subjugated by a government they no longer trusted.

Here’s an interesting piece about the implausibility of mass political violence in the US. Gun owners tend to be the most law-abiding citizens in the country. Quite often they see themselves as informal enforcers of the law (eg, Rooftop Koreans). Heck, the NRA is actively involved in training law enforcement personnel. If a real tyrant were to take power, the nation’s armed populace would probably line up to carry out the tyrant’s demands.

An actual revolt against tyranny can only come from a community with a healthy distrust towards authority. Something like Black Lives Matter. Somehow I don’t think the NRA will be forging a partnership with BLM anytime soon.

10 thoughts on “An Armed Populace is a Docile Populace

  1. Re: “But stopping tyranny? The Confederate states had not just firearms but also state militias, and even they were subjugated by a government they no longer trusted.”

    Unclear which government you believe was doing the subjugating. The Confederate states against their own populace or the Federal Government? In either case resisting tyranny does not assure that tyranny, however defined, will be stopped. Many Southerners believed they were resisting tyranny and fighting for their “rights” vs the Northern aggressors. An armed populace will reflect the divisions within society. Some will support the government, others will resist what they consider tyrannical actions.

    What is considered central government tyranny will be bizarre to the majority, such as the disputes about Federal grazing lands in the West, yet it will be resisted by armed folks probably sympathetic to the NRA.

    Please consider Dave Chappelle’s succinct view which I paraphrase, “The second Amendment is there for when the Frist Amendment is not honored.”

    1. I was referring to the Confederate states attempting to secede the Union, and being defeated in their attempt.

      Good point Re: Federal grazing lands — What was the NRA’s response to the Bundy standoff? Waco TX? Ruby Ridge? A quick search turns up mixed responses from prominent members. Bundy seems mostly sympathetic, but Waco/Branch Davidians were condemned by Bush. Still, the results remain the same — even when the citizens are heavily armed, the government always wins.

      1. Actually, I did a little more digging and it looks like the Bundys managed to get the feds to stand down, and eventually were acquitted! Good for them!

  2. During the Cold War proposals were made to establish hidden depots of weapons in remote areas of Alaska to further enable local resistance to a Soviet invasion. This was never carried out because the military did not trust the native Alaskans to fight their Cossack former masters.

      1. The linked story makes no mention of distrust of Native Alaskans. Nevertheless, the military does not trust its own members to carry weapons on base. All firearms are kept locked up and only released as needed for training purposes.

  3. Hi, Elaine. Enjoying your musings. While NRA members pledge their allegiance to defend the constitution (esp. 2nd Amendment, which is perhaps as far as some have read the Constitution) they are actually very suspicious of any authority that abuses the governmental powers granted therein, which abuser would be the government itself since I don’t know of any non governmental entity that abuses the constitution… people perhaps but not the constitution. Good luck with your pigs. Eat them while they are under 70 lbs if you can. Kind regards, Mark

    1. Mark:
      How about abuses of government (and other people) against people not themselves?

      Were NRA members fighting against the disenfranchisement of black people pre-Civil Rights? Were they for the heavy arming of southern blacks so that they could protect themselves from being lynched?

      1. I think Chipster answered that question already: “An armed populace will reflect the divisions within society. Some will support the government, others will resist what they consider tyrannical actions.”
        The NRA has included members such as JFK, James Earl Jones, and Whoopi Goldberg; I imagine they could have very different opinions than other members who come from different perspectives. Ulysses S. Grant was also a member, and I guess you could say he fought against the disenfranchisement of black people pre-Civil Rights.
        2nd Amendment rights supporters are not required to have anything more in common than 1st Amendment rights supporters are. It is simply one special interest, such as PETA or the Brady Campaign, with different bases of support. Even the NRA does not have the corner on 2nd Amendment ideology. There are numerous state firearms associations, firearms competition and training organizations, hunters groups, and even a National African American Gun Association (NAAGA).
        I can’t speak for any of these groups. Perhaps some groups or some members of some groups would be in favor, or would have been in favor, of heavily armed African Americans protecting themselves from lynchings and beatings. As someone in favor of civilian gun ownership and its use for self defense, I would be in favor of that.
        So maybe the NRA won’t be joining up with Black Lives Matter, but perhaps some of the black (and non-black) members NAAGA, who left the NRA, will find a connection with BLM. But your bigger question seems to be whether the NRA would back the government in actions of tyranny or not? I think the better question is would armed citizens? NRA membership accounts for a nominal percentage of gun owners, for whom the NRA may think they are speaking but may not.

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