Tanks Versus AK-47s And Other Aspects Of The Gun Debate

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

In this Atlantic piece, James Fallows is citing readers, one of whom landed this dud.

The following passage from the person who wanted to compare plinking with guns to flying private planes stuck in my craw (passage spans two paragraphs of the original):

“…the admittedly whacked out perspective that they will fight the oppressive government should it ever come to that.  Again, the last is probably ridiculous, but it is a psychic benefit important to many people.”

To me this was the real nubbin of the argument that was being made: The idea that people are entitled to work out their issues with society by playing with lethal weapons. Think about that one.

How anyone can justify this as “well-regulated militia” is beyond me — it’s more like the opposite.

And what is the “psychic benefit”? For this, read what some of your subsequent correspondents said about white male privilege. These white guys are out in some vacant area shooting up targets or fenceposts or whatever not just for fun similar to paintball or video games, but in order to feel that they are maintaining a certain level of violent threat against others — against their neighbors, really. Let’s not be satisfied with vague talk of “psychic benefit”. This is surely what we are talking about.

The stuff about flying vs. shooting was, as far as I am concerned, a typical astroturfing argument, diverting the reader’s attention from the real point to meta-issues of logic, and thus putting the brakes on discussion rather than furthering it.

Let’s begin with Fallows’ assertion that it is a whacked out position that armed citizens can hold the government accountable.  We’ve asserted differently before.

… while the U.S. military goes about its business preparing for fifth generation warfare, they do so because they haven’t learned how to win fourth generation warfare and are planning their next engagement being a near-peer.

Do you suppose this would look like great land armies getting into formation at the edges of great fields of battle and marching towards each other?  What do you think such a messy civil war in America would look like?  Bubba would be wearing a Ghillie suit, shooting a bolt action rifle, or a modern sporting rifle, and after the shot you will never hear from him again – until the next one.  And you’ll never catch him.  Police will have to decide what side to take, and if they take the wrong one, they will be dealt with in the middle of the night when they take their dogs out to pee in the backyard.

Insurgent will be mixed with progressive statist, and there will be no SEAL teams or nuclear weapons to which you can turn because you won’t know one from another.  There will be nowhere to target a nuclear weapon, and nowhere for a SEAL team to raid.  All of their close quarters battle preparations will be for naught when their own families are in peril due to civil warfare.  These aren’t Afghan tribesmen you’re dealing with.  These are engineers, mechanics, fabricators and welders, chemists, and the world’s best machinists.  If you think Afghanistan was rough, wait to see what civil war would look like in America.

If you have ever said something like, “You can’t win because the government has a land army and nuclear weapons,” here is the moral of the story for you.  You are an idiot.  You haven’t thought through this well enough, and you need to see the second amendment for what it really is.  It is the best guarantor of peace because tyranny is mutually assured destruction.  The statists know that, or else America will suffer the consequences.

So it looks like Fallows is an idiot, but I suspected that.  Next up, let’s deal with the reader’s note to Fallows where he pans the idea that “people are entitled to work out their issues with society by playing with lethal weapons.”  So let’s play a little thought experiment.  Replace “people” with “victims” during the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turkish Muslims, Pol Pot’s regime, Stalin’s reign, Hitler’s rule, the genocide of Christians in Mesopotamia, Egypt or Uganda.  Recalling that the number of victims of mass shootings at the hands of government entities approaches 170 million between the years of 1901 and 1990, perhaps this self righteous reader would like to explain to us why the victims would have been wrong to defend themselves from genocide?  Go ahead, we’re listening.

As for the final paragraph where the reader uses the terms “astroturfing” and “meta-issues of logic,” I’m not at all convinced that he understands what those terms mean.  In fact, without more context, the entire paragraph is nonsense.

I’m sure in the thousands upon thousands of posts I’ve made something I’ve said could be claimed to be stupid, so I won’t hold Fallows responsible for one stupid article, although a pattern of stupidity is certainly self-inflicted harm.  But I surely have better readers than that, and I think it’s embarrassing for Fallows that he used this letter as an example of reader feedback.


  1. On March 4, 2018 at 10:42 pm, Ed said:

    Mr. Fallows would be well-advised to read Ray Raphael’s book “The First American Revolution” in which the King and his banksters were held accountable by a group of men carrying staves, who marched to music, and who had committees chosen from anong them to present their particulars. Numerous resignations followed. The next year, the King’s Army decided these upstarts should no longer have the powder and cannon they had amassed, in some cases by stealing it from the King’s troops.


  2. On March 4, 2018 at 10:52 pm, Heywood said:

    It’s The Atlantic, so Fallows being an idiot would be the logical choice!

  3. On March 5, 2018 at 6:52 am, NITZAKHON said:

    “It can’t happen here!” What virtually every one of my fellow Jews tells me.

    Which is why I wrote this:

    A Very Personal Opposition to Gun Control

  4. On March 5, 2018 at 7:08 am, Tim Lynch said:

    Somebody has clearly forgotten to tell the Afghans about the futility of trying to fight our modern military with small arms. It is amazing to me how the legacy media cannot understand that point. When I was young man I thought writers like James Fallows had an unbelievable talent I could never emulate. I now have no idea how I could have believed that, but then again I once thought the NFL was healthy family entertainment and a credit to American rugged individualism.

  5. On March 5, 2018 at 7:44 am, Buck Wheaton said:

    Another factor is just how few police officers are on a jurisdiction’s force. These people are at-will employees who can quit at a moment’s notice. The core of such departments is but a fraction of the total number of officers. It will not take very many losses of core officers before what is left of such departments become very protective of their personnel and thus far less willing to engage.

    And should this turn nasty, what percent of woman officers with children still at home will be willing to carry the fight to the insurgents? They will resign in droves.

  6. On March 5, 2018 at 8:03 am, Buck Wheaton said:

    Allow me one more thought. Fallon writes in The Atlantic, a zine that caters to Progressive thought. Anyone who has read very much of the writings of Progressives will have seen numerous references advocating that those who “deny” Progressive initiatives like climate change should be jailed or killed. Progressives are happy to imply that government ought to do this. Then there is #BakeTheCake or else.

    So at the same time some Progressives are scolding us for defending the idea that it is prudent for citizens to have the means of defending themselves from a government run amok, other Progressives are advocating that government should do exactly that. So excuse me for being prudent by asking just how close are we to seeing here what we saw in Russia or Germany in the early 20th century.

  7. On March 5, 2018 at 8:47 am, Ned said:

    I have to go with Heywood’s premise.

  8. On March 5, 2018 at 8:58 am, Frank Clarke said:

    1.7 million? Hitler beat that by himself. The number is certainly closer to 170 million, 3.2 deaths per minute, every minute for a hundred years.

  9. On March 5, 2018 at 9:01 am, Duke Norfolk said:

    Leftist gun control arguments are almost always snarky little one liners meant to provoke emotional response. Then there’s the longer, totally disingenuous, dishonest misrepresentations, like Aussie gun control, etc.

    Evil people and their useful emotional idiots. I’ve got plenty of the latter in my family. Maddening.

  10. On March 5, 2018 at 9:16 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Thanks Frank. Typo. Fixed.

  11. On March 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm, Henry said:

    The ignorance of Fallows’ argument is obvious to anyone who knows enough actual history to realize that not only is the Second Amendment CAPABLE of defending the citizenry against government oppression, but that it HAS ALREADY DONE SO numerous times. To wit:

    The theft of the 1800 presidential election, where a threat of a march on Washington by 20,000 armed members of the Pennsylvania citizen militia (among others) stopped the Federalist-controlled House from throwing the presidential election to the (Federalist) loser of the election.

    The Coke-Davis affair, in which the carpetbagger Reconstructionist Texas Governor Coke refused to vacate the Capitol building after losing the election to Govener-elect Davis. He was persuaded to vacate after news of citizens preparing for an armed confrontation at the Capitol reached him.

    The citizen uprising in Las Vegas NM in 1879, to reclaim their town government from a mob of criminals with such complete control that they could and did murder citizens with impunity because even the coroner was a mob member.

    The Battle of Athens, Tennessee (August 2, 1946), during which a town took their government back from a corrupt political machine that used election fraud to retain control of the town indefinitely.

    And let’s not forget just over the Canadian border in 1994, where armed men of the Oka tribe had to physically stand off government bureaucrats intent on turning their sacred burial grounds into a golf course despite signed treaties. They won. If they hadn’t had the means of resistance, the government would have bulldozed right over them.

    The argument that “it can’t happen here” is pretty much trashed by the reality that it HAS happened here, many times.

  12. On March 5, 2018 at 2:17 pm, Jay Eimer said:

    Just look at how the US mil is restrained by the politics of “collateral damage” to the local populations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It’s point often missed when the leftists argue “what good is a militia” or “how do you think you could win a civil war” or similar. While the awesome power of the modern military could easily quash any insurrection, the fact is the political powers behind it (here at least – no comment on Putin or the Chinese, let alone the Norks) would piss themselves before considering ordering the US mil into action in the US. A few would be all for it, but even they would back off when the first videos of wholesale civilian deaths hit Facebook and Youtube.

    Imagine the reaction if the next Waco is being livestreamed from the inside?

    That factor takes pretty much anything beyond small arms and MRAPs off the table. Tanks in the streets and F16s overhead results in some really bad optics for the progs.

  13. On March 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm, Kenneth said:

    No comments alllowed on that piece of excrement. I wonder why?

  14. On March 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Because then the author can take whatever letters he gets and publish what he wants. Unlike this web site, where many readers disagree with me and say so.

  15. On March 5, 2018 at 6:51 pm, Gryphon said:

    It’s Interesting how the libtards always say “What good is an AR/AK against a Tank,” without having a Clue that a Carbine Isn’t what You Use against Armor. (At least, until the Crew un-asses it because it is Stuck or On Fire)

    That, and libtards can’t do Simple Math (Maffs is Hard, ya’know) and see that the Numbers of Soldiers who can actually Operate a Weapons System are such a Small Number that 3 Percent of the Patriots is probably Overkill.

    They Also, (like Fallows) haven’t Realized that We see ‘leftists’ like Him as the Enemy, and they are Very Soft Targets….

  16. On March 5, 2018 at 10:00 pm, Jeffersonian said:

    Michael Z. Williamson recently weighed in on this topic:

  17. On March 5, 2018 at 10:27 pm, Tony said:

    I was not told to win or lose,– My orders are to fight.

  18. On March 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm, ExpatNJ said:

    THIS, from the heart of the deep South, fly-over territory (Opelika, Alabama, near Auburn University):

    Our View: Armed teachers isn’t the only idea for local school protection
    “… Background checks should be mandatory for all gun sales …”

  19. On March 6, 2018 at 3:30 pm, ExpatNJ said:

    PS. I forgot to add that comments were disabled for the article I just posted …

  20. On March 11, 2018 at 7:31 am, Bad Big Dog said:

    These people are willfully ignorant of history. I grow weary of trying to debate people who have no interest in honest debate. Indeed, they CANNOT engage in honest debate. This is why they want to kill or jail people who have contrary views.

    In the end, these people don’t matter. They are sheep. They will conform to the masses, whichever way they move. They don’t need to be killed in a coming civil war — they will conform to the prevailing views.

    It is time to go after the wolves. No more compromise. It’s time to stop tolerating various infringements of fundamental rights.

    They are fundamental rights worth fighting for or we will continue down the road to the gulag. There are no other alternatives.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Second Amendment and was published March 4th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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