(TFC) – As the subject of the Second Amendment reenters the public discourse, the question of whether or not the right to keep and bears arms is an effective deterrent against tyranny must be examined. In the days of drones, fighters, and tanks, what good is a semi-automatic rifle? This question is typically posed by those who envision pitched battles between US Army forces and rebels. That isn’t how wars are fought anymore. Any uprising in the United States would be in the form of an insurgency. During an insurgency all of those high tech toys aren’t government assets, they’re insurgent assets. This doesn’t imply US soldiers would defect en masse to the rebels.
The misconception over which side would benefit from heavy weapons stems from a misunderstanding about the nature of insurgency itself. The insurgent’s job is not to militarily defeat the opponent. The job is to turn the people against the government. Most insurgencies begin as terrorist campaigns. In this context, don’t think of terrorism as a dirty word. It’s simply a strategy for defeating an economically, militarily, or technologically superior force of opposition.
So how do drones, GPS guided bombs, artillery, and tanks play into insurgencies? Look no further than the utter failure of the US War on Terror. Drone use during that campaign has resulted in 90% of those killed being someone other than the target. Every time a drone is used in the hypothetical US insurgency, 9 out of 10 people will be someone the government didn’t intend to kill. When this occurs on US soil, the casualties will be other Americans. The family members of the dead will most likely no longer support the government. Every drone strike creates more insurgents than it kills. The same is true of guided weapons, tanks, and artillery in this type of conflict. The high tech weapons often cited by those saying the Second Amendment is obsolete simply fail to understand every time those assets are used, they help the insurgents.
Generally, terrorists do not attack hard targets at all. Insurgents do occasionally in ambush scenarios. Both will typically attack soft targets. The insurgent will not attack a military installation head on. They will attack the community outside of the installation in hopes of demoralizing their opposition. They won’t kill armed soldiers with great frequency. They will kill them when they are out drinking at a bar. They will kill their families.
Beyond the targets related to the military, the insurgents will attack any government-related facility. The postman, the voting stations, critical infrastructure are all insurgent targets. Why? Because citizens lose faith in the effectiveness of the government. Remember, the goal of the insurgent is to turn the citizen against the government. Taking out the power grid was a favorite move of insurgents in Iraq. The blackouts were a constant reminder of how ineffective the government was. They undermined the authority of the occupation forces, who were seen as unable to provide even the basic necessities.
Insurgencies are dirty, bloody, nasty affairs. Civilian deaths far exceed deaths from combat.
So how useful is a semi-automatic rifle during an insurgency? More useful than you might expect. Full-auto fire is typically used for suppressive fire, which tends to occur in prolonged engagements. Insurgents hit and run. They avoid prolonged engagements because their opposition has time to call in reinforcements. While in some limited instances, full-auto would be useful, it isn’t really a necessity. Semi-auto is. Banning magazine fed semi-automatic rifles will significantly hinder any armed resistance to government tyranny.