for Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims and Survivors
The First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) held a vigil
on the 20th to honor the victims and survivors of the
masssacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on
December 14th. 28 people died, including 20 children. The shooter
committed suicide when he heard police coming. The reaction from
Americans has been to call for gun restrictions. Hopefully, this time,
that call will not simply fade the way it did after other massacres.
Candles set up for the
Having read a good deal about possible solutions to the problem of
crazy people with guns over the last few
days, I'm especially horrified by this
piece, which is about someone who calls for unorganized people to
have the same weapons that the government does. The idea here is that
people will then not be helpless before tyrannical governments. But
historically, the period during which the Constitution was written saw
an unusual levelling between the destructive power deployed by the
government and the people. Flintlock rifles meant that both soldiers
and hunters had the same hand-held weapon to fight with and it was a
weapon that didn't
require as much skill as a sword or bow and arrow did. Yes, the
military had heavier weapons available to it, but cannon were difficult
to move around and fire.
The third person from the right is our pastor Reverend Lorelei Toombs.
In ancient times. the government used horses and chariots and bows and
arrows to fight with. Even if civilians were to get access to these, it
took training to use the bow and arrow and a whole team of experienced
people to use the chariot. In later centuries, knights in armor had
an easy time of it when they were called upon to put down peasant
Most peasant rebellions were
short-lived affairs ending in bloody defeat. Peasants could not afford
being away from their farms for sustained periods, they could not make
a living by robbing peasants such as regular armies did, and they were
inferior to their opponents both militarily and organisationally.
Note that the advantages the military had were more than just weapons.
A small group of knights that fought as a team could overwhelm a
disorganized group of peasants pretty easily.
A comment from a good
thinkpiece on military forces versus civilian rebels:
Bottomline is that countries are conqueored (sic) or defeated by unity.
unified group that works together can quite often -- with the
superior technology and group tactics -- conqueor (sic) larger groups
to work together. Take a look at the
Imperial expansion of the West and you
will see countless examples. A result that really has very little to do
he fighting prowess of the individual or the "superiority" of his
Of course, today military forces have even more superiority over
civilians than before. From a blog post on
how civilians would fare against the Army:
Before his ROTC posting, my friend had
commanded a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. I remember him wondering what the
fuck these nuts thought they were going to accomplish if they had a
real skirmish with the Army. He knew what his unit could do, and he
knew any band of civilian insurrectionists would be utterly destroyed
by them. That’s such a completely obvious point, but apparently these
idiots think there’s some kind of Red Dawn scenario where the largest
military on earth wouldn’t roll over them if they have a couple of
assault rifles in their flabby inexperienced hands.
Now, this doesn't mean that an authoritarian US government would be
guaranteed to win a guerrilla war against the populace, but neither the
Iraqi rebels over the past decade nor the Vietcong (as opposed to the
North Vietnamese Army) were able to drive out their American occupiers
all by themselves. In both cases, America got tired of the conflict and
couldn't see any point in continuing it. The blood spilled on the
American side was inconsequential compared to that spilled in the Civil
War or either of the World Wars, but the point of our doing so was
eventually lost in both cases. It's hard to say how a guerrilla war
against an American dictatorship would work, but getting the proper
weaponry to the people would be only one factor and probably not the
most important one.
From the online
comments section in our local paper (All online comments are
deleted after a few days):
You can enact all the gun-control laws
you want, but it won't change a thing. First, the laws already in place
must be enforced, judges must hand down severe punishments instead of
letting folks off the hook with a slap on the wrist. Second, someone
will ALWAYS find a loophole in any law. Can't do anything about the
mentally ill either, the ACLU will step in and drive it all the way to
the Supreme Court that they are being unfairly targeted. And around and
around we go, where it stops nobody knows.
As I wrote in an
LTE to the same letters page:
Of course progressives don't expect gun
control to completely
eliminate all gun violence. They've never expected any such
do expect, however, to be able to dramatically lower gun violence to
the level that every other civilized country in the world has managed
to lower it. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) said last year that "The
U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times the combined rate of other western
nations." Politifact quibbled a bit about his definitions, they claimed
that by "Western" nations, he was really referring to "high-income"
nations, but they agreed that, using the data that Moran used, that the
US suffered a gun homicide rate of 4.1 per 100,000 and that those other
countries suffer only 0.2 per 100,000.
So how much help can we expect from Republican governors on the issue? Doesn't
seem like we'll get much.
Soledad O'Brien asked Florida Governor Rick Scott what he'd do about
guns and yes, he managed to appear concerned, but just said a few
inconsequential, meaningless things. When asked again, he repeated his
But I heartily and cheerfully agree with
Bob Beckel here, this is precisely
the time to have a discussion about what to do about guns and no, I
don't think we need to have an extended, drawn-out commission. We've
been studying the issue for a few decades and have plenty of
legislation that's all ready to go. Let's do this!