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Protester shot in chest by live police round during Hong Kong protests (reddit.com)
628 points by nodea2345 on Oct 1, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 913 comments



Sure, the kid was swinging at the officer, and I suppose that warrants the officer acting in self-defense. But another question is, what are the protesters supposed to do? The government has all the power, and can simply snuff out any resistence. If you just stand in the streets, they really don't care, they are going to take your freedom. Imagine if the US suddenly had a dictator that just decided they were going to take all property rights and freedoms like that -- I think taking to the streets, and even resorting to violence might be necessary (otherwise the powers-that-be have no reason to listen to a bunch of people standing in a street hundreds of miles away).


I’m from the mainland and totally with HK’s cause. But I do think the violence is at least unnecessary if not detrimental to the movement. If tanks roll in, there’s no point using violence as they’ll be crushed. If they don’t, it seems to me there’s enough space for peaceful protests, which can be even more effectual in many ways. And the people of Hong Kong have shown an incredible amount of creativity in non-violent protests. The kid is so young he shouldn’t be involved in such violence. I hope he will make a full recovery.


> the violence is at least unnecessary if not detrimental to the movement

Judgement is complicated by documented evidence of undercover Hong Kong police dressing up as protesters and acting like belligerent idiots [1].

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/22/world/hong-kong-police-pr...


Sure, but not in this particular case. The protestor that was shot was caught on the same video chasing down a police officer and beating him before getting shot.

https://twitter.com/bbcchinese/status/1179082367337713666


This always happens. It's the most effective way to create the illusion of legitimacy for using violence to kill peaceful protest. The French police have been doing it for ages.


Yes, but in this case the kid was engaging directly in violence so unless he himself was an agent provocateur, this particular shooting can’t be blamed on undercover cops.


Not to mention that the protests were initially peaceful, then they were repeatedly attacked by gangs at the behest of the local authorities.


I agree with you. I think the (relatively) success of the movement so far is due to the sheer creative energy of the protester population.

That said I am fine with measured civil disobedience and symbolic destruction of government / quasi-government / tax-payer funded infrastructure when appropriate.


> If tanks roll in, there’s no point using violence as they’ll be crushed

There are many impromptu homemade devices that can be used to deter tanks


Against modern tanks, there really aren't. Even military grade explosive mines don't stop a modern tank (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-IED_equipment#Mine_Res...) - not to mention things that go in the frontline in urban areas like armored bulldozers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armored_bulldozer)


What about the IEDs used in the middle east? How hard is it to put one of those together?


Tanks are quite vulnerable in urban combat. As the Russians learned at the start of the battle of Grozny: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grozny_(1994–95)


Obviously this is very complicated. Protesters have rights but so do police officers —we hope both operate within the bounds of the law and then that politicians would do the work for a compromise.

But, it becomes really complicated rather fast when rights get eroded.

When the Russians were caught unprepared for war, it wasn’t “right” to send their young conscripts to war with antiquated arms against a modernized force. But what was the alternative to certain carnage? Supplicant carnage? I don’t condone what the Soviets did to their own, but at the same time they had little alternative, though it was due to negligence at the highest office at the time.


Surrender? People criticize the French and others prior to WW2, but would it really have been better to fight unprepared and let a few tens or hundreds of thousands die right off the bat? Sometimes the strategic decision is not the emotional one.

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play." -Wargames


Are you implying Russia should have surrendered?

The UK would have likely been forced out of the war before the U.S ever got involved. And then you'd give Germany all the resources of Europe to work with for their next war.

Truly, what are you saying.


GP is clearly talking about France, not Russia.


> Surrender?

Well, as a person of Russian descent I can say fk you with such offers. The Nazis had pretty clear goals for Slavic people. Hitler gave pretty clear picture in Mein Kampf what he planned for East territories, and there were no plans for anybody but Germans.

Here what Nazis did on occupied territories with people who "surrendered"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostarbeiter


Yeah, I don't favor violence against anyone. But also have to question the ethics of someone who would join the police force to take the rights of HK citizenry by force.

But we need compassion for those officers too, likely they didn't have many options, and dropping party loyalty because you're getting squeemish is a recipe for disappearing or at least a life of poverty and suffering (I'm guessing).


And those people have families too. People are willing to give up a lot to take care of their families. How many of us would do the right thing knowing what might happen to our families? I bet not many.


The full video shows a officer on the ground being beaten with sticks. So it wasn’t just a kid swinging at the officer.


...and the extended version of that video shows how the protesters chased down that officer first, tackled him, and beat him on the ground (including the exact protester that was shot).

Full video: https://twitter.com/bbcchinese/status/1179082367337713666


Could you imagine what would happen in America if an officer was on the ground being beaten?


Let's not use the American police systems as a measuring stick.


At least a full clip.


This kind of discussion seems to constantly confuse "good" as in "moral", or at least "morally justified" and "good" as in "effective to achieve one's goal".

I believe that while protester's violence may very well be morally justified (I don't have enough data to judge, but I can easily imagine this case), I don't think that it can be effective to achieve protester's political goals. Violent protest is only effective when the violence reaches it's logical conclusion and opposing force simply withdraws or surrenders. As was the case in Ukraine in 2014, or in USSR in 1991, it doesn't even need to be a LOT of violence - just enough for the opposite side to get completely demoralized. But China's police and military are not only numerous, well-trained and well-funded - they're also very highly motivated and believe (I think, mistakenly, but truth of their belief is irrelevant) in their cause.

So, the only way for protesters to succeed is to make China look bad: and generally, peaceful protesters are much more effective at creating positive sentiment than armed ones.


There is another angle that shows the cop charging in with a gun drawn before the shot. https://mobile.twitter.com/antielabhk/status/117897105163343...

Also, further muddying things, it shows a moltov cocktail nearly miss a cop right afterwards, and a cop tackle and arrest someone who is on the ground trying to attend to the protestor who was shot. It looks like total chaos on both sides and is way more complicated than someone swinging at someone else.


Here is a more complete video showing the exact protestor who got shot (with the blue shield) chasing down an officer and then beating him on the ground before attacking the rescuing officer and getting shot.

https://twitter.com/bbcchinese/status/1179082367337713666


What happened before that one-and-a-half minute video to cause the protesters to chase down the officer?


I don't know - but is your question meant for us to prove the innocence of the victim here?


> but is your question meant for us to prove the innocence of the victim here?

You argued that an incomplete video may convey a different story than what has been presented, but the best you could do to support your claim was presenting your own incomplete video.

If you care for the truth instead of forcing an agenda them the problems caused by selective editing don't cease to exist if you're the one doing the selective editing.


Do you know about Gandhi's nonviolence and civil disobedience movement ? Not saying this is what's required right now. But ultimately it was that that turned the British public opinion and the Crown was forced to withdraw from the colonies.


Civil disobedience worked because it became unprofitable for Britain to stay in the short to medium term, for China it's a territorial claim and they're happy to wait out any lost profits.

Gandhi's first stint at civil disobedience also landed him in jail for 6 years and there was a lot of violence that also played it's role in Indian independence.

Even with an Afghanistan style insurrection it's hard to see China bleeding enough money to give in, so I'm not sure violent means are much of an answer either.


The public opinion completely turned on the British because of Gandhi and that movement. Colonization was seen for what it was...slavery. Having a whole other continent to supply and feed your country was never unprofitable.


I understand what you’re saying but the irony here is not lost on me.


This would work, if they had a leader representing this movement.


When we are judging individuals, it's important to judge with individual circumstances.

Was THIS protestor being violent? Was THIS police officer justified in firing?

In this case, there is one video that isn't getting much viewership which very clearly shows the protestor who was shot, chasing down and beating a police officer on the ground. The officer that fired was coming to the rescue when the protestor attacked him with a pipe and was shot.

Here is that video from BBC Chinese: https://twitter.com/bbcchinese/status/1179082367337713666


The video shows that the police officer had his handgun drawn before he was hit with the pipe.

Furthermore, the same officer was actually carrying a rubber bullet gun on him at the time.

Why didn't he deploy rubber bullets at a distance, but instead charged in with his handgun drawn?


This reminds me of the question: "well, can't the officer just shoot the gun out of his hand or something?"


>Sure, the kid was swinging at the officer, and I suppose that warrants the officer acting in self-defense. But another question is, what are the protesters supposed to do?

That's not how it works in several western countries. People can swing, throw rocks, even molotov cocktails at the SWAT teams, and they still don't shoot live rounds back - and it would be a huge political issue if they did...


It was a few cornered officers, one of whom was having his head stamped on. Not even remotely the same thing


It's not proportionate to shoot someone for fighting you with their fists.


> Imagine if the US suddenly had a dictator that just decided they were going to take all property rights and freedoms like that

He wouldn't be in power long because the economy would shut down and the US cities are extremely dependent upon a functioning economy.

And say California and Texas don't go along--now what? That's more than 50% of your military.

This is similar to Syria. Sure, Assad is still in power, but what's left of the country?


How many American military personnel would just be OK with being told by the President to take property rights and freedoms like that? Do you think they're mind-controlled idiots? It doesn't just suddenly happen, we don't have a totalitarian mindset, it would have to be very gradual and against people who are demonized as immoral or as a scourge on society, like Mexicans or Jews or liberals or Christians. Even then it's so easy to spread news and there's so many people with guns and easy accessibility that it's just going to happen unless we become a more complacent fascist country.


> How many American military personnel would just be OK with being told by the President to take property rights and freedoms like that?

We actually have some data about that. See this[1] comment for excerpts from a survey of "300 US Marine Corps soldiers". Short version of the results: 61.66% would not fire on US citizens if given the (illegal) order "I would fire upon U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the U.S. government.", with 16% of respondents using very heavy pencil marks or writing comments in the margin for that answer.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10753894


To add anecdote to the data in a sibling comment, I was in the infantry for many years, deployed many times, saw lots of combat. The US government would have a big problem on its hands if any part of it ordered the US military to take property and/or shoot American citizens: Almost no one I ever met would follow those orders. It is a not-uncommon topic of conversation in the grand tradition of military "what if" games. But this is sort of to be expected: Civil wars are extraordinarily messy and complicated, and history bears out that no state goes into this kind of conflict with its military intact. In fact many times it's the kind of thing which triggers the civil war or coups d'etat: The army gets wind of some "unconscionable actions" by the government's ruling party, and some populist general rounds up a few of his most trustworthy subordinates, and seizes power. This is the story of human state failure.


> Imagine if the US suddenly had a dictator that just decided they were going to take all property rights and freedoms like that

Do you know anything about China and Hong Kong? What exactly do you think China has done in Hong Kong?

EDIT: Down-voters, can you answer the question? Or are you just going to try to bury it with down-votes?


I DO know something about China and Hong Kong, having lived/worked/studied in them, and having half of my family there. And of course, as in any of these things, nuance is the first thing that goes out the window.

First, although Hongkong has been peaceful in the last decades, it has had some pretty severe rioting before, in the 60s and at various other times. But what we see now is a drawn out result of the 1997 hand-over. There are many factors. One is that China (and the colluding business interests) have moved step by step in opposite direction of democracy. Another is more about psychology - Hongkong used to be a star in the region, but it's now in Chinas shadow and more and more dependent on the mainland, even "overrun" in certain ways. So there is a built up frustration in Hongkong around both of these things.

China has not yet brought down the hammer on Hongkong, and they have not removed property rights and the overall freedom. Sadly, these protests are more likely to bring the dictatorship closer. But all revolutions are like that. Almost inevitably they turn violent (on both sides). The government feel the need to push back harder to quell the fire. In any conflict, both sides lose. And yes, almost inevitably

Now, that's the nuance. Then you have the simple fact that China is not a democracy, it's an oppressive surveillance one-party state. All of the democratic world has a certain moral obligation to either attempt to transform or to oppose China. Unfortunately, most have gotten in too deep and have too much to lose on criticising China. Therefore the global response is weak, and large corporations tend to follow the money rather than the principle. This is very sad.


> China has not yet brought down the hammer on Hongkong, and they have not removed property rights and the overall freedom.

Thank you!

> Sadly, these protests are more likely to bring the dictatorship closer.

That's my fear as well. I'm all for peaceful protests, but I'm afraid the violent protesters are signing the death wish of freedom in Hong Kong.

> Then you have the simple fact that China is not a democracy, it's an oppressive surveillance one-party state.

(I'll ignore the "oppressive surveillance" you snuck in there, as that's not an exclusive to China, and many democracies are much further along in that regard.)

And that makes China automatically bad...how? China has on balance done less evil and more good than most of the democracies of the world. Can we be honest with ourselves and keep an open mind?

> All of the democratic world has a certain moral obligation to either attempt to transform or to oppose China.

China certainly should be kept in check by fellow world powers. But let's not get carried away with mindless ideology and dogma.


> Imagine if the US suddenly had a dictator

Not so hard to imagine these days.


You said yourself that the government has all the power, and can simply snuff out any resistence. If that's the case, doesn't that make the protesters assault a senseless assault? What were they trying to accomplish when they were beating the officer?


> warrants the officer acting in self-defense

I question the appropriateness of using a firearm with conventional lethal ammunition.

A rubber bullet in lower body would have had enough stopping power. What happened looks like a blatant violation of any reasonable protocol law enforcement would be supposed to behave in accordance with under the circumstances.


> A rubber bullet in lower body would have had enough stopping power.

No, it wouldn't. I've sustained worse injuries than a rubber bullet and remained fighting.

A bat to the head is a lethal assault. Using a firearm against such an assailant is completely justified.

This has nothing to do with pro / anti CCP feelings. As far as I'm concerned the CCP should be eliminated.

Your assertion is devoid of any reality.


Shooting to kill a 16yr old instead of getting beaten up is justified??

Not where I'm from

--

The only way to end such confrontation is simplistically to love your enemy; or at least stop being quite so mean ;)

Edit: I've never been shot or faced those injuries, but I've certainly been in worse situations than that police officer. So just on that basis that I'm judging his actions


> instead if getting beaten up

To be fair, the comment you’re responding to is implying worse outcome than getting beaten up, claiming that the kid & his weapon posed lethal danger to an officer who was defenseless on the ground at the moment.

I do agree with the sentiment though


It takes one blow from a bat to the head to die. Yours is asking someone to risk death death, not a beating.

Were it simple fists I’d wonder what lack of training these officers have. Weapons are another matter.


Thanks @goblin89, you are right

Sorry @mieseratte, what you say is true. I exaggerated. Looking at the videos now though the boy was armed with a swimming float as a shield and a relatively thin white (plastic??) pole. It's true that that could still cause a lot of damage

But I wasn't there, and if someone is facing a baseball bat (and others in the crowd had hammers) to the head then you are right, that is a different ball game to what I was hoping for


What about aiming not in the chest at least? Would a bullet in a foot have enough stopping power, without being so short of lethal outcome?


> Would a bullet in a foot have enough stopping power, without being so short of lethal outcome?

Not reliably, which is why every organization that carries and trains with guns trains center of mass shots except for specialized marksmen training for specialized circumstances, who tend to train harder but even more lethal shots.

When you are using a gun, the choices for reliable stopping are nearly identical to those for maximum fatality. If you aren't justified in killing someone, you have no business firing a gun at them, and if you are justified in firing a gun at someone, aiming anywhere in the limbs doesn't make it nonlethal, it just raises the risk to yourself and bystanders by making the outcome less certain.


> remained fighting

Without interruption? Then I stand corrected.

I imagine the point would be to confound, give the time to extract the officer from immediate danger, not to immobilize the attacker entirely with a rubber bullet.

(And you’re right, I should not have phrased that as an assertion not being an expert in the field.)


The situation of HK and the rights of the residents have not fundamentally changed since it was ceded to the British in 1842. In fact they have more democratic representation now than during most of their history.

It's far from perfect but it's infinitely better than on the mainland.

Nothing justifies "resorting to violence" in HK today. The violent actions along with anti-Chinese displays are in fact counterproductive because they push the central government to tighten the screw and unite the mainland's public opinion against them.

Many of these protesters have no democratic culture themselves. Anyone who disagrees with them is wrong and an enemy that must be fought by any means.


> Nothing justifies "resorting to violence" in HK today

If they're basically going to be steamrolled by a rather unsubtle up-and-coming superpower, perhaps they have no choice. In fact IF violence is all you're left with (and that does seem to be the case as legal recourse is blocked) then violence is necessary.

The CCP is not backing down until it has borged HK.


What are the specific "actions of the CCP" that have actually occurred to date that supposedly justify violence from the protesters?



Any time there's an article about China and Hong Kong, people who know nothing about either, besides that China is ruled by the communist party, come out of the woodwork to take a dump on China.

People look down on Trump and ridicule him endlessly when he spews bullshit about things he knows nothing about. But if you spew bullshit about China, you get lots of upvotes.

And if you dare to speak the truth and the nuances about the situation in Hong Kong, you get downvoted to oblivion.

EDIT: Case in point, downvoters! Go ahead, show me you know something about China and Hong Kong.


The bias you're talking about is real, in my observation, but you can't counteract it by ranting and breaking the site guidelines, let alone baiting others into downvoting you. It's a direct consequence of HN's demographics, which are overwhelmingly Western, and there's no way to change it other than slowly and patiently, by adding good information.

Of course it's frustrating to encounter inflammatory comments that are based in ignorance. But if you respond like this, you feed those comments and give them greater credibility, while discrediting the very side you're trying to defend.

If you know more, then a better way is to share some of what you know so that others can learn. In any case, if you post here, please stick to the site rules regardless of how wrong or ignorant other commenters are or you feel they are.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I was baiting for good information, not downvotes.

My apologies if it came out wrong.


Ah. The way to get good information is to post some yourself, and to do it in a way that communicates neutrality and openness to other points of view.

If you post in the flamewar style, everyone's going to just go rigid and fire on all cylinders. This mechanism works the same way regardless of what the topic is, and regardless of whose position is right or wrong.


It's the worst part of the Internet: there is really no real listening to the other side. Everybody gets an opinion and the most important thing for him on something not really in his field(s) is, get his opinion out!

I think the HN's algorithm also contribute to the problem: the fastest and most upvoted response leads the discussion, and normally not the most valuable.


I'm getting used to it so I ceased to comment on the main post whatever. People can believe in what they believe in and it's fine for me. You probably should do the same, too.


Yup, I've given up ages ago. When confirmation bias has hit supercritical level like it has here, there's nothing anyone can say anymore that will change the minds of those holding the consensus opinion.


Truth be told, I'm having too much fun calling out bullshit.

You should try to enjoy it too. It gets lonely sometimes :)


> But another question is, what are the protesters supposed to do?

But another question is, what people in Beijing supposed to do?

Think of that. To many, it's very clear that men in black will not be content even if given suffrage. Then they will want places in legislature, own foreign policy, armed forces, and ultimately sovereignty.

The popular sentiment that it's "poor HK kids" coming out at large out of desperation for their material situation can't hold water. Most of activists are children of very well off people, well educated, with a lot of life experience overseas, who had their future well being secured by their parents. No way they will be appeased with just a carrot.

The Party is well aware of that. There for long been a sentiment that Hongkong is a "trojan horse" the West gave to China, and the current crisis only reinforces this opinion among people in Beijing, and down to junior-mid-level cadres. There is no way the Party will back down.

This mess will take years to settle down in any scenario.


Ah yes, democratic representation and sovereignty. Entirely unthinkable.


Imagine yourself a party bureaucrat. Would you do a 100% career ending move?

That's why I point to the crisis being irresolvable. No way out of this for both sides.


The king of Botswana did it to himself. (and was then democratically elected as the president)

The General in Nigeria who overthrew the President in a Coup then handed power over to a new democratically elected President a year later.

Yes. Good, honest upstanding men (and women) will destroy their own position and power when it's the right thing to to.

The hard part is finding the Good and honest ones, and I suspect they are very few are far between in the Chinese leadership.


I'm not even talking about leaders on the level politburo, there is no chance they will move. People who reach this level are pretty much robots after 40+ year careers in the party.

People on level municipalities, and provinces may show some rare signs of common sense from time to time, but them moment any of them (yes, even a provincial governor) will rise a hand, they will instantly be politically terminated.

And you have a system where tops are incapable of integrating any input for plainly neurological-biological reasons, and anybody with a shade of influence on them is super duper afraid of getting politically railroaded by both higher ups, and peers contending for promotion.

This is modern China for you.


Such is the distinction between what is good in a utilitarian sense and what is good in an ethical sense.

Blind and dogmatic utilitarianism says "it's in the politician's best interest to suppress the citizenry". Ethics says "it's in the people's interest for the politician to be nice to them".


> Most of activists are children of very well off people

Do you have data or reference to back them? Surely there could be rich kids among the protestors, but is that a majority of them?


HK is just across the river from me, and I lived enough on both sides to know how the social architecture of both countries works

The best proof of what I said is that all convenience stores and seven elevens are fully staffed, and running. Janitors, taxi drivers continue to work like nothing happened.

HK Poly is more or less preserving minimal functioning, but HK University is effectively defunct now. All kinds of banks, business services companies work in severely reduced capacity.

All of well of Hongkoners I know myself either: 1.) ran away to Mainland, 2.) ran away to Vancouver, 3.) are on the streets right now


What I heard is that they only protest on weekends? Are they doing it everyday now?

> All of well of Hongkoners I know myself either: 1.) ran away to Mainland, 2.) ran away to Vancouver, 3.) are on the streets right now

So, among them, what kind runs away, and what kind goes to the street?


The first question. No way to attest that for me, do your guess from other news.

The super rich of HK are surely out, they do so every time when there is trouble. Hongkongers who bought foreign property or passports in past years are certainly moved out by now too.

So, that leaves your typical petit bourgeois behind. Clerks, government workers, part of white collar workforce


The very notion that people want free government and self-determination is a bad thing is why you're being downvoted on an American forum. There is not a lot of support for oppressive governments that commit genocide against religious minorities and put people in prison for political dissidence.

You may be playing devil's advocate for the "party" but it comes too close to sounding like you're defending them.


> There is not a lot of support for oppressive governments that commit genocide against religious minorities and put people in prison for political dissidence.

That's funny, I thought Saudi Arabia was America's close ally. Yuuuge deals on military hardware, great against defenseless Yemeni citizens. Free bone saw with every 10th missile!


The irony is of course to downvote to hell any dissenting comment in a debate about democratic values and censorship in China...


> The irony is of course to downvote to hell any dissenting comment in a debate about democratic values and censorship in China...

Please don't confuse PR posts conducted by China's 50 cent army lauding absurdities such as the virtues of a totalitarian regime as "dissenting comment".


Please stop assuming that any comment that does not share your opinion on China is fake.


A dissenting comment that is wrong is a bad comment and deserves downvoting for being wrong.

I'm not saying it is wrong, but expecting that democracy means all opinions are valid is a very basic misunderstanding. Very basic.


At the very least it does mean not suppressing opinions that you consider 'wrong'.

This is not a discussion on a technical or scientific topic. This is not black and white.

In fact, and since someone mentioned the American nationality of HN, the lack of subtlety and the need to see everything in black and white, right or wrong, is a common 'criticisim', so to speak, about Americans.


> At the very least it does mean not suppressing opinions that you consider 'wrong'.

true!

> This is not black and white.

Potentially true, but I feel you're fogging the issue (something that happens a surprising amount of time in these discussions involving china).

I distinguished between dissenting comments and bad comments. While that's not utterly B/W it's actually pretty clear.

> In fact, and since someone mentioned the American nationality of HN, the lack of subtlety and the need to see everything in black and white, right or wrong, is a common 'criticisim', so to speak, about Americans.

Ah good old racism! And it is racism BTW. Americans are crude, stupid and gunslinging morons. Well, I've met a very few like that, very few indeed.

Can I make some obnoxious and unfair generalisations about the chinese? You're OK with that I take it?

I'm a brit BTW.


The downside of freedom of speech is what one has to read, sometimes..


That insinuation that I'm uneducated addresses none of my points. So how about replying to the given issues.


There is no irony. I am not calling the authorities to have you and your family beaten and arrested.


This is not the first time the HKPF has used overt force on a protester, just the first time it has done so publicly. Several protesters have already been "disappeared", and there are many stories coming out of brutal torture against activists. If Beijing authorities have learned one thing from Tiananmen Square, it's that in the internet age violent suppression must happen in private places, where it cannot be recorded by someone's cellphone and shared instantly with the world. Public acts of violence is a PR nightmare and only fans the flames of dissent.

This event will only harden HKers more. In the short term it might prevent mainstream protesters from taking to the streets out of fear of violence. But it will make the average HKer more resentful of Beijing's long arm and empower radical factions. And there are many ways to weaken a government's control outside of public protest.

EDIT: Protester is in critical condition. He was not killed.


> Several protesters have already been "disappeared", and there are many stories coming out of brutal torture against activists.

Are these backed by evidence, or just rumours? Of course the protestors will blame the police, and the police may blame the protestors too.


Rumours mostly. See below for an example.

https://www.reddit.com/r/HongKong/comments/d0tnei/missing_pe...


As of this writing the protester in question was injured, not killed.


Fixed. Thanks.


Not to defend what the police have been doing overall during this protest, but in this specific incident you can see the protestors beating a police officer on the ground, and the protestor who got shot was swinging a metal pipe at the police officer that shot him.


I've been fairly critical of protestors before, but in this instance, you can see the police going in for a fight, already heavily outnumbered. I'm not sure what they expected to happen, but the officer drew his gun almost instantly and shot a high school kid at point blank range.

There's been other instances today where police was just looking to fight protestors, and as soon as they realized protestors weren't having any of it, they drew their guns and shot in the air. There's a difference between an officers' life being in danger, and the officer stupidly putting his life in danger.


> There's been other instances today where police was just looking to fight protestors

And protestors obviously looking to fight police. They swarmed the other officers partner who was being beaten on the ground and he was next.

I find it shocking so many people were expecting him to just take it the beating or 'run away' and leave his partner there.

There's a very good argument for having police on the streets when there's protestors running around throwing petrol bombs and swinging metal pipes. This is basic civil society 101 stuff. I'm not convinced the solution to China's totalitarianism is random street violence and property destruction by teenagers.


The protests started out peacefully and stayed peaceful for months, even in the face of state-sponsored gang violence (Yuen Long Station), false arrests, and police brutality. All of these things have rightfully angered the citizens of HK. They have every right to protest their government, especially the CCP, one of the most egregious violators of human rights in the modern era.

They are not just teenagers engaging in random street violence and property destruction. There are people from 12-80 on the street. Professionals, part-timers, students, retirees, everyone. Over a million people turned out last August in one of the largest protest marches in human history.

All the escalation is the result of CCP/HK not providing a political solution. They just send riot police to peaceful protests every weekend, and more violence occurs.

Admittedly it's hard to stay on top of all this stuff. The CCP's propaganda machine is working overtime and here in the West we're not doing a great job sounding the alarm in the press (in fairness, we have our own problems). But it's a serious protest movement fighting as honorably as it can for democracy and human rights, with global, fundamental consequences. We should be backing them 100%.


> I find it shocking so many people were expecting him to just take it the beating or 'run away' and leave his partner there.

When you're a public servant, this should be expected of you. Especially when the crime you're trying to brutalize members of the public for is "exercising freedom of expression"


This is a case of self defense


> And protestors obviously looking to fight police. They swarmed the other officers partner who was being beaten on the ground and he was next.

While true, protestors can't just resort to drawing their guns and firing warning shots. Police have a civil duty to uphold the law and be professional, not to go out fighting protestors and then flash their guns to scare them away when they're losing.


> I find it shocking so many people were expecting him to just take it the beating or 'run away' and leave his partner there.

That's what the protesters are expected to do.

Attacking the police was definitely a bad idea, especially for strategic reasons--this illustrates why Ghandi and King preached 100% passive resistance. Protesters can allow themselves to be brutalized for months, and the moment a few of them hit back, the narrative starts to shift to "violent thugs."

If you want to retain the moral high ground in the face of organized propaganda, you're not allowed to physically defend yourself even once.


https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=kVZq_1569989463 They run to save one of their own being beaten to death with pipes and hammers.


Today is China's National Day. That probably heat up the conflict.


Context is everything.


The police are allowed to shoot someone in the leg. Lethal force is not the only option with a firearm.


Citation needed.

Which police force trains their officers to shoot people in the leg?

My understanding is that, if you need to shoot someone, there’s an immediate threat. You shoot for the largest target, so you won’t miss and so you do the most damage.

If you aim for the leg, you’re likely to miss. Even if you hit the leg, there’s a femoral artery in there. If you hit that person will bleed out in just a few minutes.


The Swedish police. They are allowed to shoot to kill, but in some circumstances (likely not a riot, but it's a case by case judgement) are instructed to aim for the legs.


This is strange to me. Firstly, because hitting a target with a pistol under high stress can be extremely difficult and legs are smaller than torso, and secondly, because "aiming for the legs" doesn't guarantee that it won't be lethal. If you take a shot to the femoral artery your chances of surviving aren't great. In fact, they're probably worse than taking a shot to the torso.

There was a video going around a few years ago where a policeman shot a robber in the thigh. The round hit his femoral artery and he was dead within five minutes.


It is kind of strange, but nevertheless, that's how it is. They are supposed to use the maim option with discretion. And it has caused death several times.

The police used to have smaller caliber pistols, and IIRC they put 14 rounds in someone leg, which didn't stop him from approaching the policemen doing the shooting. He still died though! This incident was one reason why they were later equipped with the more powerful SigSauer for more stopping power.


Jeez that's crazy. 14 rounds in a leg...how was that thing even still attached?

Do the police there have tasers? That could be a good tool for this type of thing.


Small caliber rounds. Tasers may come in the future. But back when that incident happened, tasers were not a thing.

Edit: I am torn on tasers. It’s a viable tool. I am just very pessimistic. I fully expect them to used VERY liberally in all sorts of situations where we got along very fine without them. It’s yet another way of dehumanising an encounter


Yeah, they do seem like they get used a lot here in the US. That said, I'd much rather be dehumanized with a taser than with a gun.


Of course!

It's just that I think you will be attacked with a taser instead of being asked to lie still on the ground until they can handcuff you. Suspect neutralized. Or tased in the cruiser for being unruly. Except they were just angry with you. And so on. Unless tasing comes with the kind of paperwork that comes with discharging a firearm, I think it will be misused a lot.


Any use of a firearm is potentially lethal and should be treated as such. The precision necessary for the scenario you are proposing is not physiologically possible during an active conflict.


Curious if there's any place where this is common. I assumed everyone trains center mass. Also, there's a femoral artery in your leg... you'll be just as dead if that gets hit.


Different police units are trained for different rules. Somewhere it is a verbal warning, warning shot, shot in the leg, shot to kill. Sometimes it is just a verbal warning and a shot to kill. Not defending the police in this specific case (I do not know the details), but blaming an officer for following the sequence he has been trained for is misplacing the blame. My 2c.


I highly doubt any officers anywhere are trained to fire a warning shot, much less a precise disabling shot in the leg. When you fire your weapon, it is with the intent to kill.


In defensive shootings the objective is to stop the immediate threat which is best accomplished by shooting center mass and damaging the vital organs. Shooting to maim will give the attacker the opportunity to disable you or take the weapon from you which will likely result in your death.


At that scenario you might shoot right through someone's brain.

There's significant high chance to shoot through arteries at leg shots.


Full context is police officers often beat protests during arresting. Sometimes they just fight each other. Anyway, I think the officer have better choices than attempting to kill the kid(shot in chest is obvious willing to kill).


I think anytime you shoot a gun at one someone you are shooting to kill, shoot to maim feels like it would be practically impossible outside of movies.

But I might be wrong, I've never shot a gun.


I'm not taking a side on this specific situation, but shooting at a limb in a high stress, crowded situation would not be a wise shot. You would likely miss--and hitting someone that was not your target would not be good.

Another comment mentions training for center of mass, and I would assume that's what they do.

Let's say 80% of your shots constitute a "tight grouping", 20% being somewhere other than where you were aiming. Aiming for the middle of the body would likely mean you have a very high success rate of hitting your target individual. Aiming for the shoulder/leg/arm (each one harder than the last to hit) you are looking at a very low success rate of hitting your target. If you choose to use your weapon, I would hope you are confident you will hit your target and only your target.


This concept you can shoot to maim is silly. Hitting a man is hard if you practice shooting. In a chaotic situation with adrenaline its even harder.

Shooting to hit is all you can do.


The police in Sweden is trained to shoot to maim, but only in somewhat controlled situations, such as someone wielding a knife approaching officers from a distance. First warn verbally, then fire a warning shot, then fire at the legs.

When there is no margin left, fire to stop. (Which means in practice, often death.)

https://polisen.se/om-polisen/polisens-arbete/polisens-befog...


The distance has to be very great - 21 feet is often quoted as the minimum distance where a gun wins over a knife. And many barrooms are less than that.

So in theory its a kind idea. But hardly ever significant in practice?


> 21 feet is often quoted as the minimum distance where a gun wins over a knife

Against an already drawn gun and a trained as well as attentive officer? Do you have a source for that? I have a hard time believing that. Or is this the case after factoring into the US mentality of "there may not ever be any residual risk for a cop"?


I would argue a sawed off double barrel 12 gauge with double / triple aught buck would reduce that down to a few feet.

Problem would be how you train people to hold their cool


That cavalier attitude is what gets officers killed in bar fights. It takes a couple seconds to cross 21 feet. About what it takes to recognize the danger and raise the weapon.


The shoot first attitude is what gets unarmed citizens and other cops killed in bar fights

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/30/us/bronx-officer-shot-dead/in...


THis might be a stupid question, but where are Warning shots fired?

Are they fired close to the target, but far enough away to miss? Can this only be done if there is no one behind the target, are they shot into the sky? If so is their no danger of bullets hitting people falling back down? Or do they lose enough speed on the downward arc to be safe? Or is the chance of a warning shot hitting someone innocent so staggering low that it isn't worth worrying about?


I live in the USA, and the only place I've ever seen warning shots being recommended was by the military in Iraq when civilian vehicles would drive too close to a convoy. If a gun is used, it's because you feel that your life or someone elses is in imminent danger. Warning shots can ricochet and kill someone, and bullets can still come down with lethal force if a warning shot is fired into the air. Shooting to maim is possible if the situation allows for it, but warning shots can end up killing someone besides the intended target.


I was skeptical in the beginning that "bullets can still come down with lethal force if a warning shot is fired into the air" but I guess you are correct. Mythbusters were testing this in one episode and [1]"Because of this potentiality, firing a gun into the air is illegal in most states, and even in the states that it is legal, it is not recommended by the police. Also the MythBusters were able to identify two people who had been injured by falling bullets, one of them fatally injured"

[1] https://mythresults.com/episode50


The only way this sort of training would work IMO would be with sociopaths or psychopaths who dont have the huge adrenaline jump from emotional attachment to other humans.


I don't understand this notion. The training is exactly to make people just respond with how they were trained, automatically. This is also how the military works. Since you just do it, you aren't as likely to ponder what will happen to the human in the cross hairs. These thoughts come afterwards.


Never had a person in your cross hairs i take it ?


And yet somehow Slovenian police manages to do just that (shoot to maim, usually leg), on very rare occasions when it has to use a gun and warning shot didn't suffice.


https://www.reddit.com/r/HongKong/comments/dbqsfl/video_show...

shows cop ran into the crowd and had a clear exit path (not necessary to shoot to remain safe)


It looks to me like he ran in to try and protect the police officer that was surrounded on the ground, and didn't fire until he was attacked. I don't know the context around this specific event, but it doesn't look like the "police officer runs in and shoots child protestor" narrative that is being pushed on reddit.


Closeup video of the shooting: https://streamable.com/2hei6

Longer video of the shooting: https://streamable.com/qtyii


Just like the Yuen Long attack by white shirt triads sparked the current cycle of violence, this will further escalate a dangerous situation. There is a clear difference between fighting with sticks and stones to guns. It is now only a matter of time before somebody shoots a police officer in retaliation and when that happens, violence will spiral out of control.


I prefer not to get major news from Reddit. The New York Times is covering this in great detail: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/world/asia/china-national...


Obviously China is evil etc etc.

But isn't it pretty obvious these people are physically attacking armed officers as they are retreating? And they are beating up and kicking another downed officer in the head?

Whilst I might have sympathy for their cause the kid struck an armed officer with a weapon whilst he wielded a gun as his friends beat another armed officer. I have very little sympathy for anyone who makes such poor decisions in a group delerium of impunity.

Edit: If anyone downvoting would care to offer another option, that would be appreciated


> Obviously China is evil

Good grief. Would you please review the site guidelines and take care to edit such flamebait out of your posts to HN?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Apologies, but I was clearly making humorous reference to the hyperbolic knee jerk condemnation of China in the thread irrelevant to the situation. Not actually making an ideological statement.


Oh, I see. Unfortunately, many readers won't read a comment like that any more closely than I did. It's best not to go there when the topic is inflammatory.


Perhaps my British isles sensibilities don't translate to American very well. I'll be more deliberate in future


There are two things to unpack here.

One is, what it the police officer right there and then supposed to do? Police forces across the world have faced similarly violent protests, and even riots while managing not to shoot anybody. It's part of their job. Police in the UK in riot situations aren't even armed with firearms. Pretty much the only situations in which UK police ever get issued firearms is when facing similarly armed criminals. If they are getting themselves in situations, against protesters not armed with guns, where they feel the need to shoot their way out, they have badly screwed up.

Secondly, HK police routinely assault and very severely beat even non-violent protesters. They have frequently provoked and incited violence. This isn't an isolated example of defensive violence by peace keeping law officers. This is a further escalation to potentially lethal violence by a hostile force that has repeatedly upped the scale of violence in HK.


I'm afraid that's not even close to an accurate comparison. Indeed I find it entirely disingenuous. There are plenty of armed officers in the UK for a start, I see them most days. Riot police in the UK are supported by authorized firearms officers in most cases.

Secondly most world police forces have weapons, and the citizenry in those countries are aware of that. At the end of the day, a small group of officers were being attacked by a larger group of people. An officer is on the ground being kicked as violently and as brutally as possible. Another officer is being attacked despite warning use of his weapon and I'm afraid seems well within his rights to protect himself here, with unfortunate outcomes.

You cannot excuse the role of the protesters in provoking this action.


Police officers on diplomatic protection, airport security, etc are usually armed, and there may well be armed officers available in riot situations, but they are backup not front line.

I said myself it’s not the same elsewhere, many other police services are armed but even so using live ammunition against protesters is unacceptable anywhere.

I agree the protesters know what they are doing, but just as I cannot deny their role, equally can you really deny the role the HK police have played in deliberately provoking and escalating the violence? Do you think that is acceptable?


> Do you think that is acceptable?

I think it irrelevant. You don't hit a guy with a gun pointed at you with a pipe and expect not to be shot. The wider situation is not relevant unless the chap wanted to be shot.

> but they are backup not front line.

Also incorrect. I see armed patrols every day


Having a gun and pointing it at people does not give anyone the right to shoot them.

That last comment was referring specifically to police in riot situation.


i think i saw yesterday though that the Government there is infiltrating the protest groups with agent provocateurs so i dont know what to believe anymore


Entirely irrelevant as there is a video of the kid hitting a police officer with his gun drawn. This is entirely self inflicted.

There is no strategic advantage to physically attacking a police officer in this context. It didn't further a cause in any conflict. If you go and hit someone with a gun pointed at you it is undeniable that the person acted in self defence.

I hate to be defending these things, but the hypocrisy and hyperbole are unhelpful in understanding the truth


The video. Pretty clear he's swinging something that looks like a pipe or a wooden stick. Not the full context, and I imagine the police have things to answer for. But swinging a stick/pipe at an armed person isn't wise.

https://www.facebook.com/hkucampustv/videos/542398913195804/...


While I would expect repercussions when swinging at police, I think being physically present in confrontation shows a level of commitment that a weaker protest movement might not show. Sure, if you die you aren't going to be protesting any longer, but that doesn't mean it has no strategic value as perhaps the only option a protester might see is violent escalation.


That's the point.


You "think" you saw? That's not very convincing.


Remember the Boston Massacre:

> The Boston Massacre is considered one of the most significant events that turned colonial sentiment against King George III and British Parliamentary authority. John Adams wrote that the "foundation of American independence was laid" on March 5, 1770, and Samuel Adams and other Patriots used annual commemorations (Massacre Day) to encourage public sentiment toward independence. Christopher Monk was the boy who was wounded in the attack and died in 1780, and his memory was honored as a reminder of British hostility.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Massacre#Contribution_t...


Ah yes, if Chinese police did it, its barbaric. US cops do far worse on a daily basis and are worshiped as heroes and literally get away with murder without so much as a charge.


This is a topic of fierce controversy in america, where police shootings often result in protests

This is an example of the same disconnect you describe in the comment


I expect this cop won't be meaningfully punished either


Saw some of the videos and reports, it is awful. One thing I don't understand - these cops are also from HK, correct? The protestors are fighting for the cops rights too, correct? If that is true, what is going on in the mind of a cop who is beating an unarmed protestor?

Or are these cops from mainland China?


cops are trained to view their own population as hostile everywhere


This is bad, but the US should not intervene. Never have I ever seen an "intervention" help. If you can name one I'd love to hear it.



Vice News was doing, IMO, some of the best coverage of the situation in Hong Kong. Sadly, it seems the new AT&T leadership at HBO decided to make their mark and didn’t renew their contract.


I respect the bravery of the protesters but in certain cases the violence is getting out of hand. An example from today: https://twitter.com/FxLowe/status/1179019436923056128

You can't mob the guys with guns. Not in HK, not in the West, not anywhere.

There's a complete breakdown of trust on both sides so likely a long time before this defuses.


Serious question: Why aren't more from the police protesting as well, and supporting their citizens? I expect it is from fear of the government? What would they do to police unwilling to perform their duty? I wonder, because you have to assume some percentage of the police is in agreement with the protestors. Or maybe it is because right now, no matter what their opinion is, the need for order and police is greater than ever.


No idea what their pay structure is like, but if they're getting paid overtime they're creating a direct cost for the government and making a profit at the same time. Their protest can be as simple as turning up and doing a half-assed job.


What is the protestors' end game here? Hasn't the extradition bill been killed? What do they need to end the protests and return to normal? I am genuinely curious.


The five demands:

1. Withdraw the bill - which finally did happen, after much stalling.

2. Independent investigation of the police intervention.

3. Not classifying the mostly peaceful protests as riots.

4. Release of the many arrested protesters. (Who could face very long prison sentences because of previous point.)

5. Democratic elections of the HK government - which seems wildly optimistic but is apparently in the HK constitution.


Thank you


Here is the full video from BBC for context https://youtu.be/Q0AiW_qMTt8


This might sound alarmist, but do you think China is the biggest upcoming global problem after climate change? For two reasons:

1. China has a totalitarian ruling system. They intend to realize George Orwell's 1984.

2. Present-day China essentially has no ethics. Take the US in comparison. No matter how perverse the people in power become and even if they do messed up things, the US has some founding morals and principles they do not forget. China, in comparison, systematically rooted out these values since the Great Leap Forward. The happenings at Hong Kong and Xinjiang epitomize that.

I do think China's expansionist policy bodes poorly for all of humanity.


Please don't take HN threads into nationalistic flamewar. This is not at all what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Present-day China essentially has no ethics

Source? I lived in China and didn't ever feel like I was in a place without ethics. Different ethics, sure, but it really looks to me like you simply don't know or understand China.

The Great Leap Forward had nothing to do with routing out values, it was about hyper-fast industrialization, and it failed.

There are real problems with modern China, and, separately, with the CCP, for example a lack of separation of powers and a lack of rule of law. But your statements look much more like fear of the other and demonization of what you don't understand that well reasoned arguments.

If you live in China, you'll experience some things that are much better than they are in western countries. I'm not saying there's any comparison really, but the fact is that the reality is far more complex than you're making it out to be.


That’s interesting to hear. Not trying to troll, but I’d love to hear about what you have found to be better about it.


I would say the biggest thing is the emphasis on public works. Wherever I went I was awed by the extent of things that were built just for the public. In the city where I lived there they built a new fancy bridge[0], and a massive park with an island and an art center[1], all for public use, and the city hosts massive public celebrations in these kinds of parks with extensive art installations, music performances etc.

The quality of the high speed rail system barely needs mention, and while the hospital system has some pretty glaring faults the cost of care was low and it was easy and affordable to get medical care. Think of this: when I got an X-ray in China I payed upfront and the radiologist _gave me the x-ray_ so I could bring it to more than one doctor if I wanted a second opinion. The transparency there was refreshing.

Again, there are plenty of brutal negatives, but I just want to show that there are some good things that don't get press.

[0] https://www.treehugger.com/infrastructure/lucky-knot-bridge-...

[1] https://www.dezeen.com/2019/05/03/zaha-hadid-architects-chan...


> The quality of the high speed rail system barely needs mention

China is not famous for the quality of it's high speed tail system. China is famous for two things:

1) throwing huge amounts of money/resources to build their high-speed railway network

2) stealing intelectual property from manufacturers of high-speed railway rolling stock, whether through industrial espionage or hijacking production processes after enticing European companies with contracts to build European rolling stock designs in China.

Also, China's high-speed railway is also infamous for their accidents, particularly by the inhumane way that chinese officials decided to cover them up (i.e., burry wreckage next to crash sites without recovering dead bodies)


> the radiologist _gave me the x-ray_ so I could bring it to more than one doctor if I wanted a second opinion.

In the US you can always get your medical records just by asking for them and you can always get a second opinion.


1) Infrastructure in general is new there - look at a picture of Shanghai even 25 years ago.

2) Getting a second opinion in the US is generally easy - I would guess China has cheaper healthcare however


Topic is about "ethics".


I mean, people can believe in what they believe in, right? And there are plenty of articles from the media.


If you kill political dissidents and harvest their organs as part of an active genocide campaign, you lose any claim at behaving ethically. Ethics are measured by the actions you take that you'd rather not advertise.


Part of my point is that this is being done by the CCP. If you want to say the CCP doesn't have ethics that's a different argument than "China doesn't have ethics", and I don't think that's too pedantic too point out.


I think that distinction is already sufficiently implied.

China/<Country's name> == The government of China/<The government of Country>

and

The Chinese == The inhabitants of China


> I think that distinction is already sufficiently implied.

No, it's not.

> China/<Country's name> == The government of China/<The government of Country>

> and

> The Chinese == The inhabitants of China

I've had some rather deep political conversations with a few Chinese people, and it's my understanding that education there doesn't stress the distinction between the Chinese nation and the Chinese government. So, using the word "China" to condemn the government can will often be interpreted as condemning the nation and does encourages ordinary Chinese to stand by their government, right or wrong. Don't do that.

If you want to condemn the Chinese government, name the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) in your condemnations, for clarity's sake.


Do the people going to the clinics for life-saving organ transplants know that the organs are coming from prisoners who do not give them up voluntarily?

Where did the CCP get all the doctors and nurses who carry out the vivisections and transplantations?

I don't want to engage in what I call the "calculus of evil".

I wonder how many Americans would fly to China to get organs to save their lives knowing where the organs come from.


When he refers to "China" he is talking about the government, AKA the CCP.


Same as when you water-board people.


Nanking was ethical because Manzanar.

Unit 731 was ethical because Tuskegee.

The Opium Wars were ethical because the CCP does nothing to stop the flow of fentanyl overseas.

All of these are as ridiculous as what your comment implies, they're also equally relevant.


Is it whataboutism to mention toddlers in cages here? It seems both governments have their gas chamber moments...


No it's not. This isn't Reddit where any average Joe thinks whataboutism is the answer to any evidence they don't agree with.


Yes it is, the treatment of children at the border is also horrendous, it also has literally nothing to do with china and ethics.


You claim the organ harvesting means the whole government can't claim to have ethics, I think that's just stupid absolutism (the world doesn't work with Boolean logic), and my counter-example is to ask if the US government can claim to be ethical given that we know they've put toddlers in cages.

I can probably give out examples of "unethical" behavior for every government on this planet, and then no one will be ethical any more. What then?


And here you see first-hand the decline in the quality of discourse in HN


Yes I absolutely do. It’s especially frustrating that politicians speak endlessly about Russia when China is clearly the larger threat to US dominance. Even stories like “senator’s driver of 20 years is Chinese spy”[1] are basically ignored.

1. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/the-spy-w...


> They intend to realize George Orwell's 1984.

With advancements in technology (particularly machine learning), I'd say more like a cross between 1984 and Minority Report. E.g. https://mashable.com/2017/07/24/china-ai-crime-minority-repo...

It doesn't get much worse than thought-pre-crime.


After climate change? I have always feared totalitarian governments more than climate change. The death tolls are a hundred million higher.


The six mass extinction event that humanity is currently causing is going to affect billions of people for centuries to come. If we have systemic ecosystem collapses and 90% of species go extinct, there will be a profound effects. When crops fail and fresh, potable water is extremely constrained, authoritarianism will sweep the world at an even more accelerated pace and regional and world wars are likely. It will be interesting to see how mutually assured destruction holds up and prevents nuclear war when climate change will have already guaranteed many levels of destruction and created a very desperate populace.


If humanity is causing extinctions, it's due to habitat destruction and local pollution. Climate change (+0.38C from 1980-2010) is not the cause.


I know why you got downvoted, but i actually think you're overestimating the impact climate change would have on animals.

Earth has known far more extreme climate in the past than even the +4 degrees that we could reach because of human CO2 emissions. Some species may disappear from some parts of the globe, but for sure new ones would emerge thanks to increased temperatures in colder places.

However, never has a single specie had such a huge direct mechanical impact on the habitat of all the other species all around the world.



We live in an ever-changing planet. The sea level has been rising since 20,000 years ago, during the last deep ice age. We're still technically in an ice age, we're just in a temporary warming period called an interglacial. The state of various species is always in flux.

CO2 is fertilizing plant life on the earth. And satellite data confirms this: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fer...

Since plant life is thriving, so too will overall animal life. Although extinction will continue to occur just as it always has throughout the history of the planet.


It peeves me to no end to you just brought out the whole climate change skeptics handbook so surreptitiously, why didn't you make your opinions known in your earlier comments?


Which fact have I mentioned that you think is incorrect?


It's not as simple as more CO2 = better plant growth. In fact it is likely the opposite for C3 plants. [0] Things like Corn, which uses C4 photosynthesis will hardly be affected by more CO2 in the atmosphere. I could go on and on, but this thread is the wrong place for this discussion.

[0]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036122/

https://science.gu.se/english/News/News_detail/increased-car...

https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/effects-of...


It looks like doubling CO2 causes increase in carbs and a decrease in proteins but the difference is only 1.5-14% depending on the plant species, with soy beans being the least affected. Still, a doubling of CO2 can cause certain tree species overall mass to increase by 138%.

If the yields and plant mass overall increase by more than 14%, then perhaps the trade-off is worth it. And this is perhaps why commercial greenhouse growers pump CO2 into them up to 1200PPM.

At any rate it does seem like an interesting question. What sort of species will thrive in a high CO2 environment? I do have faith in plants and their ability to adapt to such conditions, as it was the conditions they thrived under in the Mesozoic and beyond.

At any rate, thank you for the interesting studies.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2486...

https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article-abstract/14/7-8-9/...


The sea level has been rising since the last glacial period, but it slowed down considerably 6000 years ago. Of course we're in an ice age, we haven't melted our poles yet and they usually last millions of years. You comment about the interglacial doesn't mean anything except giving us more runway to burn oil until we can't back out.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_glaciation#Next_gla...

> The state of various species is always in flux.

You asked for instances of climate change causing an extinction, this is your response to me fulfilling your request?

And don't forget in your other conversation about CO2 and plants about the increased temperatures predicted under climate change: "the diverse impacts of higher temperatures on other metabolic processes are likely to feed back on carbon metabolism in ways that we do not currently appreciate."

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.15283


How did you come to this conclusion?


Am worried about China imploding(relatively soon) due to their totalitarian system deleting feedback loops and accelerating negative ones.


I'd rather worry about EU as there is already a large gap there...


What policies does China have which are expansionist?


The belt and road initiative is fascinating, including their cultivation of Africa. The scheme where they lend poor nations money to build ports and then when the port authority fails to fulfill the repayments, they simply take over the port and basically establish a Chinese base is rather diabolical. From a business perspective it is brilliant but it does seem rather obviously predatory. I consider that expansionist. Did America do the same with Panama, did UK do the same with Gibraltar? There are some parallels.


100%. This is a standard item from the imperial-power playbook. The author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" documented it pretty well.

The basic rundown is that a country sets up international financing institutions, then loans money for infrastructure projects to less developed countries. This is supposed to be spent to hire engineering and construction companies from the lending country, with the promise that your companies will help up-skill the host countries favored companies, which may or may not happen.

The effect of this is that you basically use someone else's money to build up companies and build expertise that you can continue to sell around the world.

Its an obviously great business practice, but very prone to corruption, and ineffective at creating real economic growth in the host country (which is go-to cover story for why its not imperial aggression). The Belt and Road Initiative is basically just this exact strategy writ large.


Yanis Varoufakis has an interesting take on Chinese economic imperialism. According to him, the Chinese are a benevolent imprealist, trying to achieve the same dominance but with loans rather than guns.


It's interesting to consider it benevolent from his perspective, since he called German financial institutions malevolent when it played out very similar in Greece. Except geopolitical influence expansion was not a main goal.

Maybe he said something like "it looks like benevolent, because they use finance instead of guns" or that compared to using military force it's relatively benevolent, but after watching some of his talks, I highly doubt he'd call it a generous ethical policy.


Is Varoufakis someone that should generally be taken that seriously? The last time I heard about him was during the election for the European Parliament, where he was pushing DiEM25, which seemes like a rather idealistic (in the unrealistic sense) movement full of attention-hungry personalities.


Varoufakis' comment on China isn't about China per se but rather an extension of his economic criticism of financial capitalism. He views China as patient investors looking for long term returns from infrastructure projects instead of short term returns from financial speculation, and he believes the former is "far more humanistic" than the latter. He even gave an example when he was the finance minister: He renegotiated a better deal for the port with China, but the deal was blocked by the Troika. It's not a comparison between finance vs guns, as we all learned after 2008 that finance can be as destructive as guns.


>According to him, the Chinese are a benevolent imprealist,

Yellow man's burden?


At least China didn't send troops to other countries to arrest the president...if you call that parallel, well, that's a really skewed parallel.


Wanting to take over Taiwan, and trying to take over the South China Sea by building artificial islands and using them as military bases, for starters.


To add to that:

Wars of aggression against two neighboring countries (Vietnam and India) in the past 50 years, active territorial disputes with basically every other significant country nearby. The creation of client states like which are then used to undermine stability (North Korea), or to undermine international organizations (Cambodia and ASEAN).


> Wanting to take over Taiwan,

This is as expansionist as the American Civil War... I.e. it's not expansionist but really a 'domestic' matter.

There is big amount of propaganda from Western media on this topic as well: If Taiwan had been in a position to fight the communists to retake the mainland the US would have supplied help and call this 'liberation' of the mainland. But of course any plan of the communists to complete the takeover of the country by getting their hands on Taiwan is labelled 'expansionist' and 'a threat to security and stability'.

Same old games...


The difference being one side is evil and the other isn't so much.

The Chinese government, the CCP and everything they stand for regarding liberty and freedom of thought and expression is against the fundamental values of the West. The ideas are not equal in value. China is wrong. Oppression of thought is wrong. Incarceration without trial is wrong.

The US and other countries don't get it right all the time, but at least our citizens have the expectation of rights the Chinese can only dream of.


Every time people have to argue to counter the hard reality, which I described in my previous comment, they try to clutch at straws by trying to convince themselves that China is "evil" or "wrong"... This is a feeble argument.

Moreover, even if we accept that China is evil and wrong, some of the best 'friends' of the West are at least as evil and wrong, if not more, as China, which should really finish off this line of argumentation.

This is self-interest among states, standard geopolitics, there is not right or wrong, including when it comes to determining the US' foreign policy.


China's new silk road comes to mind.


> the US has some founding morals and principles they do not forget.

It took the US around 200 years to fully live up to those founding morals and principles.

The PRC is a relatively young country. Only 70 years as of today. Give them a hundred more years and perhaps it’ll change drastically.


I think the point is that the PRC wasn't actually founded on those same morals, but rather on ones of "we know what's best for the proletariat and anyone who disagrees must cease to exist". With a handful of exceptions (most notably: McCarthyism), the US has always had a very different attitude when it comes to political dissent.

Case in point: the freedom to openly criticize or even outright mock/ridicule a politician is demonstrably far stronger in the US - and historically has always been - than it is or has ever been in the PRC.


It may be helpful to differentiate Chinese people and society from its government.

I view Chinese people individually, and on the whole, as very humanistic. The real question is what would China look like if its system represented the sentiment of its people?

I think they like private property, inheritance not being taxed, and in general focusing on their own lives without interruption.

Like anywhere else, many Chinese people enjoy civil engagement.

If China broke up into multiple countries and had a union to reduce redundancy/inefficiencies in common areas, that'd be a huge improvement.

This also preserves Chinese culture/customs on a more granular basis.


> It may be helpful to differentiate Chinese people and society from its government.

Not to mention some 50M+ Chinese that don't live in China.

> Overseas Chinese (traditional Chinese: 海外華人/海外中國人; simplified Chinese: 海外华人/海外中国人; pinyin: Hǎiwài Huárén/Hǎiwài Zhōngguórén) are people of ethnic Chinese birth or descent who reside outside the territories of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Although a vast majority are Han Chinese, the group represents virtually all ethnic groups in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Chinese

Chinese culture is much bigger, older, and grander than the CCP.


China is what you get when you have a one party system. The country lives and dies for the party. Individual freedom is suppressed. Everyone must tow the party line. China is most certainly a concern for those of us that love freedom.


> US has some founding morals and principles they do not forget.

Excuse my french, but what the fuck are you talking about?

How about imprisoning and torturing US citizens without due process in the name of a nebulous war that only gets worse the more we fight it?

What about all the puppet governments we've set up so that our corporate overlords can make a quick buck at the expense of some country who's resources we want to plunder?

The US is an empire. Not based on governmental control, but based on financial control. The difference between surveillance in the US and surveillance in China is that we've managed to keep our surveillance largely in the private sector; but that doesn't mean 1984 doesn't already exist here! In fact, you carry 1984 with you in your pocket everywhere you go!

I'm not saying I'd rather live in China than the US, but putting the US on some high moral pedestal is extremely ignorant of all the terrible things we've done as a country.


Please don't take HN threads further into nationalistic flamewar. This is not at all what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> The US is an empire. Not based on governmental control, but based on financial control.

But people in the US can remove legislatures and the top executive(the President). Do people in China have that option?


The people who fund the political parties control what happens. Elected officials do their bidding. The public front of "democracy" is just there to keep everyone else from realizing that.


This sinister & pervasive line of thought terrifies me. Too many Americans under 40 share similar thoughts: my vote doesn't count, some mysterious corporate/billionaire $$ controls everything so why bother, antipathy etc.

It's scary that many actually believe this and thus self-fulfill their prophecy because they don't get involved and don't vote.

To further amplify this detrimental affect, there are state-sponsored trolls/propagandists actively driving this wedge and these narratives online to attack our Democracy from within.


Don't mistake my seeing things for how they are as apathy. That's a false equivalence. I absolutely support getting out and participating in the political process, but it's important to understand just how much of what happens is completely out of our control because how else do we fix that? The act of noticing and speaking of this is not the same as the act of giving up.

Also, my responses were a reality check in the face of the propaganda you're speaking of. The "the US is the most free and moral country!" folks are getting a much bigger dose of force-fed freedom than anybody else.


Lying to yourself for the greater good?

I've been involved. Will continue to be. It's still the truth.

Ask yourself, how come when America's chief global rival does bad things, it's cause for condemnation, but America must be protected from criticism?

Nobody cares about Yemen but everyone is very sure Hezbollah are bad guys?

Our system of control is so much more effective than state censorship. And the trains don't even run on time.


A majority of the people didn't even vote for the president.


Can they, though? We've got the test case in front of our face right now. Want to place some bets on anybody elected being removed before 2020?

How much you want to bet that in 2020, for the umpteenth time in a row, we get a choice between two billion-dollar-funded candidates who are absolutely not going to buck their sponsors, ever? Taste the freedom.


We had one with Nixon. He resigned, remember? Now just because we don’t get it again, does not mean there’s no basis for OP’s notion that we can remove legislators all the way up to the executive branch.


Fish don't know they're in water. https://sivers.org/fish

The fact that we have the illusion of choice between candidates who will all do mostly the same things, and won't affect the bureaucracy that much anyways, doesn't make us meaningfully more free.

"But my candidate had a great take on the bathroom bill controversy!", as we continue bombing weddings in afghanistan, imprisoning more people than China (!!!), etc..


The key here is that the executive branch of the US government doesn't get to do these things in a vacuum - both Congress and the Supreme Court temper its power, and though elections in the US are far from perfect they are still free.


Elections are free, but the influence money has on our government after elections is where the problem lies. And even the "free elections" portion is being eroded since Citizens United.

I'm not saying China is better, but the fraction of control the average US citizen can exercise over the government in the defined political process is much, much smaller than `1 / 330,000,000`...


Federal elections are not the only things that matter - state and local decisions have an impact. Obviously not perfect - even with the money affecting government we have the ABILITY to change that over some time period, and lobbying in some places can help. I am unsure about what exactly you are complaining about.


https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-cable...

> I am unsure about what exactly you are complaining about.

I wasn't. I was refuting common propaganda about the wonders of the United States. How can we fix any of our problems if we don't admit to ourselves that they exist?


Fair enough - perhaps I should've simply said that in my opinion, reducing American ability to affect government down to % of population each individual represents isn't the best way to approach our problems


I'm sure your assertion of checks and balances is very helpful for the folks living out their lives in Gitmo with the force feedings and the indefinite detention without due process thanks to a technicality in regards to jurisdiction, as was the parent posts' assertion.

With that in mind, on the balance of it, America is overwhelmingly a rule of law jurisdiction, and the PRC is not. There's definitely magnitudes here.

My point is neither side is all good or all bad, and looking at it that way is harmful to the discourse.



China is the world's #1 carbon emitter, the top emitter per GDP, and has over 200gw of new coal still planned. (For scale, California consumes about 50gw on a hot day.) So they are not even unrelated problems.

China is also the top source of plastic in the ocean.

Tangent but: the way China turned out has IMHO been the major factor in the collapse of the post cold war neoliberal narrative in the West. The idea was that freedom and prosperity are a reinforcing cycle has been disproven. China shows that at least the business parts of capitalism work just fine without human rights and that therefore prosperity and totalitarianism are compatible.

The collapse of that narrative has in turn unleashed a revival of hard right fascist and hard left socialist ideology in the West.


That carbon emitted is largely from the manufacturing of cheap products that you consumed. Western countries have offshored both manufacturing and the associated pollution to a country more concerned about pulling its people out of poverty than about its environment. The ocean plastic is partly from these industrial processes and partly because western countries have exported most of their plastic waste to China for more than a decade.

Also, according to this, China's per capita emissions are half that of the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_di...


I think per capita emissions are not the right measure to describe the worst polluters. You are right, prices paid for "cheap products" we consume don't include the costs associated with CO2 emissions, but if they did they wouldn't have much to do with a producer's population. A better measure is emissions per dollar GDP, where emissions (a cost) is relative to what gets produced (the benefit).


Per capita emissions is not the right metric. It seems like it should be, but if you compare by that metric you're really measuring poverty below a certain threshold. A poor nation might have low CO2 per capita just because it's poor, but what production they do have could be fantastically inefficient (and often is due to old technology). As they climb out of poverty, as all seem to be doing, they'll become huge emitters.

Emissions per GDP is probably the best we have as GDP is a decent proxy for productivity, making it a real measure of efficiency. If the goal is to actually reduce emissions the goal must be to reduce CO2 emitted per unit of productivity, so you want to emulate the wealthier nations that have low CO2/GDP scores. That means emulating policies like renewable energy, efficiency standards, well designed cities, etc.

China is (last I looked) the least efficient large economy in terms of pollution per GDP. The USA is toward the middle of the pack.


I agree that it's quite clear that environmental externalities per dollar GDP (and per dollar of exports) are massive. At the same time consider that as median incomes increase, marginal utility of clean(ish) environment vs income increases, public pressure mounts, and countries do tackle environmental externalities.

That's the story of every country's industrial development since the British industrial revolution. Bread comes first, clean water and air come second. For rich western countries to forget that and demand that China and India put environment ahead of pulling people out of poverty is myopic at best and, realistically, highly hypocritical.


A market for a product does not justify the GHG produced. They choose their method of manufacture. Additionally, wasn't China supposed to be recycling the plastics that were shipped to them?


Before your tangent, I agreed with you.


I agree with everything, including the tangent. China is living proof of how horrible the capitalist "dream" can be in reality, when what flimsy veil of democracy that still existed is stripped away.


I would argue that failure of Neoliberalism has nothing to do with China and has everything to do with flawed economics which assumes that our planet has indefinite resources and wealth can grow infinitely. Authoritarianism is the natural outcome of unchecked capitalism and Marx predicted that a century ago.


> The collapse of that narrative has in turn unleashed a revival of hard right fascist and hard left socialist ideology in the West.

I disagree with that point.


No not alarmist. I'm with you and I strongly believe US should undo Trump so we can rebuild an international coalition of 'Democracy' to confront China, unified together, with much stronger action (backstopped with force if needed).


Yes.


> biggest upcoming global problem after climate change?

maybe, but climate change is around number 20 in that list for me.


You're lucky you get to die soon enough for that to be appropriate.


Not sure what you are trying to say here.


He's saying you don't have to worry because by the time it gets really bad, it will be someone else's problem. Which is exactly how we got into this mess in the first place.


The reticence of politicians to address climate change is strongly correlated with their age.

Of course there are outliers but it seems clear that "I'm not going to be alive when the shit hits the fan" does a lot to assuage existential anxieties related to climate change.


Blaming the elderly here seems misguided to me.

I suspect the lifestyle of an average 20-year-old today puts much more burden on the environment/climate than the lifestyle of their parents in their twenties.

ADD: The amount of time each spends _talking_ about climate change is a different matter of course.


At least with regard to Americans, your suspicion is incorrect.

American CO2 emissions per capita reached their highest level in the 1970s and declined later:

https://knoema.com/atlas/United-States-of-America/CO2-emissi...


Comparing the behavior of people now to people 20-40 years ago seems dishonest. Many new technologies have prevailed since then, and cultures around consumption have rapidly shifted.

We should consider instead the current consumption habits of both cohorts for an appropriate comparison.


I don't think the climate cares much about our technologies and cohorts. A ton of CO2 is a ton of CO2. Since you claimed I was arguing dishonestly, I withdraw from the discussion.


Different technologies emit CO2 at different rates. Different technologies are prevalent in society at different times. That's my only point.

Didn't mean to make it sound so harsh, "dishonest" wasn't meant to be a reflection of your intention. I chose the wrong word.


What are the 19 first?


- what I have for dinner (ok, sorry, it said global problems), so maybe:

- collapse of bird, insect, reptile populations over all the developed world due to pesticide use, habitat loss, etc.

- decline of natural environment, waters, forests, etc.

- loss of linguistic/cultural diversity around the world

- decline of institutions and social cohesion in my immediate neighborhood

- society-wide addictive tendencies

- the commercialization of more and more aspects of human life

- ...


Among the many effects of climate change, 700 million people live in areas that will become almost uninhabitable due to rising sea level and flooding at current emission rates. Do you seriously think that people adapting by speaking a different language is as bad as that?


Yes, on my list the latter is a more serious problem than the first, it is more certain to be happening, and its effects are more permanent.


> more certain

Do you doubt that climate change will displace 100s of millions and destroy many large and distinct cultures (e.g. island states) at current emission rates?


That could certainly happen (although the island states I have heard mentioned in this context have populations more in the 10s of thousands), but in terms of culture/language loss this would be a small event compared to the loss in the past/current decades/century, already happening without climate change.


Point #2 actually follows from Point #1. Hayek makes this argument very thoroughly in The Road to Serfdom:

Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule. There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole’, because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.

This quote is from the condensed edition, because my paper copy is at home: https://fee.org/resources/the-road-to-serfdom-condensed-edit...


During the depths of the Cultural Revolution there were incidents of cannibalism committed not out of hunger but out of a desire to prove unquestionable loyalty to the cadre.


No, the biggest global problem is the same one that is causing inaction about climate change.

It is domestic enemies of the public. People with money and power, who are happy to push the rest of us under the proverbial bus, in order to acquire more money, and more power.

They have, historically, caused incalculable misery the world over, democracies have, historically, not had a great track record in dealing with them, and they have, and will continue to have a lot more impact over my life than China ever will.

Unsurprisingly, it is in their interest to point fingers at foreign boogiemen.

If you disagree, please consider enumerating the ways in which China has been a threat to your, or your fellow citizens' prosperity, life, or limb. Then consider enumerating the actual threats to prosperity, life, and limb that you and your neighbours have to deal with in your lives - or have had to deal with in the recent past.


I'm usually not a huge fan of the US rolling in and stomping out governments (and installing their own, of course), but this is one faux-dictatorship where it sorely needs to happen. Some actual democracy would be amazing for these people.

With the recent "trade war" and whatnot the stage has been set pretty well for a US intervention.


> I'm usually not a huge fan of the US rolling in and stomping out governments (and installing their own, of course), but this is one faux-dictatorship where it sorely needs to happen.

It's not a faux dictatorship, it's the real deal.

But, the idea of the US “stomping out” the PRC (or even somehow “just” rejecting it from Hong Kong) and installing its own preferred government is downright insane.


It's not insane, but it would be a horrible and bloody hot war, the likes of which we haven't seen since WWII, and it would probably eclipse WWII in total deaths.

But it's not "insane", because we have precedent for it: it's exactly what happened in WWII: the world's largest economies and industrial powers going into an all-out war, culminating in nuclear attack, and resulting in the deaths of tens of millions. It's happened before, and so it could certainly happen again.


> It's not insane, but it would be a horrible and bloody hot war, the likes of which we haven't seen since WWII

Uh, no.

The US overt, initial war aim would be an existential threat to the Chinese regime, and China is a nuclear power with intercontinental delivery capability. It would see multiple times more total casualties than WWII, and that's just be on the first day that China was convinced that the US was serious about the effort.


Nuclear states don't attack other nuclear states for a reason.

NYC, LA, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Huston, Dallas are all potential targets if the US declares war. Most of the US army would be going to war with no home to go back to.


If China did a nuclear attack, the US Army wouldn't be involved at all in any war. They'd sit back while the US Air Force and Navy completely nuked China. There wouldn't be an invasion because there'd be nothing left to invade at that point, so no army would be needed.

Remember, the US's nuclear arsenal is far, far larger than China's. Such a conflict would be devastating to the US (and to many other places due to fallout), but China would cease to exist.


>>>> But, the idea of the US “stomping out” the PRC (or even somehow “just” rejecting it from Hong Kong) and installing its own preferred government is downright insane.

> Remember, the US's nuclear arsenal is far, far larger than China's. Such a conflict would be devastating to the US (and to many other places due to fallout), but China would cease to exist.

And if the US's war aim was to liberate the Chinese people from dictatorship, it would have failed miserably in that case, having destroyed them instead.


> If China did a nuclear attack, the US Army wouldn't be involved at all in any war.

The proposal was that the US would attempt to invade, decapitate, and replace the Chinese regime; the idea of Chinese nuclear action was as a response to that.

So the Army would already be involved, and US nuclear annihilation of China would be nuking our own army.


Wow what a horribe viewpoint! I can not disagree with you more here. Can you even begin to imagine the massive scale of casulty and human suffering that would occur in this scenario?

Lets break it down - tens or possibly hundreds of millions of people would die - there would be almost a 100% chance of a hot ww3 but this time with hydrogen bombs, there is a good chance if this happens all life will be wiped off the face of the Earth - starvation on a massive scale, modern society with its on demand supply chains would suffer greatly in a new world war - automated drones targeting people


Even if you could defeat the conventional forces, the ensuing insurgency/guerrilla warfare in mainland china would make Afghanistan casualties look like a teaparty.


You can't force democracy upon people that don't want it and aren't ready for it - it ends disastrously. The US tried to do that in the middle east and failed miserably.

The only success story seems to be South Korea, but I would argue they wanted democracy and fought alongside the US for it.


> The US tried to do that in the middle east and failed miserably.

The problem was less with democracy and more with trying to impose a common state on a set of opposed communities that had previously only been “united” in the sense that the one the US was least friendly toward was effectively oppressing the others, and even that might have been successful has the US had needed its own past occupation experience and preserved and reformed state security institutions rather than disbanding them with no transition plan, leading to an internal war before the US even got started with establishing democracy.

Not, to be sure, that that makes the idea of the US trying to impose democracy in all or any part of the territory of the PRC even remotely sane.


I'd count Germany as a success story, too! First country where democracy stuck after the Americans installed it.


Uh, Weimar republic?


>middle east

I'm not super knowledgeable on the topic, but although the new governments didn't really work out, didn't the mass murders and other atrocities stop with the removal of the old dictator? Those countries may not be "stable" (yet), but is the situation really worse that it was?


> but is the situation really worse that it was?

Was Saddam torturing a limited amount of dissidents and his sons raping and murdering people as they pleased better or worse than ISIS ruling significant parts of the middle east? Was Gaddafi better or worse than Libya in civil war, slave markets being revived etc? Was life under Assad better or worse than civil war in Syria?

Even with bloodthirsty dictators, there's usually a way to make it worse, and NATO/US is pretty good at finding it.


The US had very little to do with democratization in South Korea and were perfectly happy to prop up authoritarian regimes for 30 years before mass protests finally led to free elections. The Korean War was fought to stop communism, not spread democracy.


How should we intervene?


Not that I'm necessarily advocating this, but US intelligence has historically proven extremely adept at destabilizing regimes.

I'd imagine that mostly look like sowing internal discord within the CCP. The party already has a lot of corruption, so most likely many senior officials could be blackmailed and manipulated. The long-term goal would be to weaken the resolve and coherence of the CCP to the point that a non-violent democratic revolution could take place.


This is a quite short-sighted point of view. The real challenge is to establish a stable new regime after toppling the old one. In the case of mainland China that has no prior experience at all as a democratic society, it would have a difficult time adapting (PRC before WWII doesn't count since it was unstable and higly corrupt). Also, a weak goverment is in danger of neglecting to address the internal challenges China faces (tensions with minorities, poverty in rural regions, environmental destruction).


My guess is that US intelligence has several "shadow" arms that have morphed into their own creatures and are no longer the same patriotic beast it was during the cold war. I'm doubtful whether destabilizing China is a real possibility, in the "CIA in Latin America" sense.


Are you usually a partial fan of stomping out governments? So much hubris. So little understanding.


> Imagine if the US suddenly had a dictator

This is why we have the second amendment. And the constitution as the thing to which office-holders swear allegiance to rather than to "the party" or "the president".


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21125050 and marked it off-topic.


I think it is unfortunate that so many Americans don't know about the history of the Black Panthers. In US public school system, we are taught that the Civil Rights Act was won through peaceful marching - this is not the whole story.

Black Panthers carried guns to protect protests, and having guns created a situation where cops could not rush in and beat dissent into submission. There is a strong argument that without the second amendment, the Civil Rights Act would not have been passed, and we would still be living in an institutionally segregated society.

I don't own a gun and don't feel I need one because I'm a privileged urban white. Gun control has historically been used as a tool to disarm Black Americans: the NRA supported gun control in response to the Black Panthers! (https://www.history.com/news/black-panthers-gun-control-nra-...)

Any discussion of gun control in America must account for the self-defense rights of Americans who do not have adequate protection from the police.


Correct me if I'm wrong here but the Black Panther Party was formed in 1966 and the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964


Good point! I didn't realize that there are two 'Civil Rights Act's from the 60's

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964 prohibited school and employment segregation and gave minorities voting rights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1968 prohibited housing discrimination and criminalized hate crimes

It appears earlier armed defense was carried out by various groups in the Black Power movement, including the Freedom Riders and Black Armed Guard led by Robert F. Williams.

The Black Panthers were ideologically inspired by Williams, but I had conflated earlier action with the later-formed group. Thanks for pointing that out!


> Any discussion of gun control in America must account for the self-defense rights of Americans who do not have adequate protection from the police.

Interestingly, that would be most of them, with the supreme court ruling that the police does not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm.

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-po...


Owning a gun makes it 2-3x more likely someone in your family will die by a gun. So it makes you less safe, not more. https://slate.com/technology/2015/01/good-guy-with-a-gun-myt...

And it definitely makes it less safe for the rest of us in society.


correlation != causality

If someone has threatened you with a gun or you live in an area with increased gun violence, I would expect that greatly increases the chances that you'd want to acquire your own. This cohort would already be at a much higher risk of gun death before they owned a gun as well.

There has never been a placebo controlled double blind study on gun ownership. Probably never will be because of ethical concerns.

It probably does increase risk, but I expect the effect size is much lower than 2-3x.


How about no one has guns ?


How about we fund mental healthcare nationally, reduce wealth inequality, and end racial disparity in policing first?

Until then, an attempt to ban all guns is not only a politically infeasible waste of energy, but also seems like a racist attack on the self-defense rights of the disempowered.


"What about...". There are mass shootings in schools every year. How about we solve the problems you mentioned and the others in parallel. US spends enough on military budget , they can cut back and solve these. The disempowered don't need "white knights", they are the ones often dying to gun violence.


And the same goes for owning a car or having a pool in your back yard. That doesn't make it not worth it.


Owning a car is necessary for daily life. And your backyard pool will not impact the rest of society.


If you have a gun in your house and are responsible with it, nobody will be at risk.


That argument is pretty much a "no true Scotsman" type argument.

You can't discard datapoints you don't like because they're not "responsible" firearm holders.


No, we’re objecting to conflating categories which demonstrably exhibit radically different behaviors and outcomes.

To overstate the point: You can’t conflate “bought a black market gun, keeps it illegally, has no training, and engages in felonious behavior on a regular basis” with “endured numerous comprehensive background checks, bought high value guns (some specialized) at retail, took hundreds of hours of training from prominent instructors, keeps them for sport and defense, obeys all applicable laws, is a practical expert in said laws, and has committed no crimes”, then when the former happens to kill someone illegally, proceed to average the two and use that to assert “see? owning guns is bad”.


No, you can. Owning a gun for self defense is an individual decision, so individual responsibility must be considered.

You can’t say that the Americans who want guns for self defense are better off without them because statistically, across the population, they increase danger.


Why can't you say that? Every decision you make is an individual decision. Whether or not to vaccinate yourself is an individual decision, owning a gun, driving a car, looking both ways. All can have consequences for others besides yourself.


I don't understand your response. Are you arguing that vaccinations, cars and being a responsible pedestrian should also be banned?


How do I know if you are responsible? Do your children have access? Are you sure they can't find the key or figure out the code?

A couple months ago a friend of a friend was killed because a boy from school brought a gun from home to their house to show off and was playing with it. He thought it was empty. It wasn't. Now a girl is dead, a boy's life is ruined, and their families are devastated.

This happens all the time.


I think making parents liable for violence caused by their children who gain access to their weapons is a reasonable regulation, and some states have already passed laws to this effect.



Gun owners accidentally shooting themselves means there's a 100% chance they were doing something that following the most basic gun safety controls that everyone knows about would make impossible. You can infer from this that those people were not responsible gun owners.

Link 1: Guy said it was unloaded. Gun safety rule #1 is treat every gun likes its loaded and clear every gun when someone hands it to you so you know personally that it is in fact unloaded.

Not doing either of those things is incredibly stupid and irresponsible.

Link 2: "The man was showing his girlfriend that loaded guns are safe when he died" - The guy was playing with a loaded gun. No legitimate gun safety demonstration would claim that a loaded gun is ever safe. That's not responsible gun handling.

Link 3: Doesn't describe the incident in detail but he pointed a loaded gun at a living thing so its gross negligence.

Link 4: Another questionable gun safety demonstration. Once again no detail but he pointed a loaded gun at a person else it would have been physically impossible for a person to get shot.

It is not standard practice to have live rounds around when you are doing a safety demonstration. They make clearly marked training rounds that have no propellant in them for the purpose of demonstrating loading and unloading a firearm. Using live rounds is not justifiable as "responsible" behavior.

Its disingenuous to use examples of people doing incredibly reckless things in order to argue that "responsible gun owners" regularly shoot themselves or others.

Gun handling is like being the only car driving on a road during the day with clear, calm weather, no animals, and no pedestrians around. It makes it so simple that all you have to do is maintain a sane speed and drive between the lines and there's no way you can get into an accident. Handling a gun is always like that unless you're on a battlefield or something. If you follow simple rules its impossible to hurt someone.


>Gun owners accidentally shooting themselves means there's a 100% chance they were doing something that following the most basic gun safety controls that everyone knows about would make impossible. You can infer from this that those people were not responsible gun owners.

My point was that the supposed "responsible gun owners" also get it wrong.

Else it's more like a No True Scotsman (where a "responsible gun owner would never accidentally mess with their gun, because anybody who does such things is by definition not a responsible gun owner").

If a cop showcasing "gun safety", an NRA employee, and other such cases with more experience and more training than the average gun owning person, are not "responsible gun owner", then I don't know who we can trust to be. And why we should listen to anybody saying "with me it's OK, I'm responsible". After all that's what the cop was saying before he shot himself...

>Its disingenuous to use examples of people doing incredibly reckless things in order to argue that "responsible gun owners" regularly shoot themselves or others.

It's disingenuous to construct an abstract category of "responsible gun owners" vs the "unresponsible" rest, when even the self-proclaimed "responsible" owners, and even safety/gun experts, mess up.

What we do know is that gun owners regularly shoot themselves or others. Even some claiming to be "responsible" (which is something that all do, only an idiot would claim to be irresponsible or admit to it).

Not to mention the whole point is moot. Even if "responsible gun owners" were 100% issue free, the law doesn't give guns to people who are "responsible gun owners" only, it gives them to anybody who passes some basic checks and wants to buy one. Nor does the law follow up with people in their homes to see if they really follow that "responsible gun operation" that they say they do.


The examples you gave were all extreme cases of gross negligence.

You're feigning ignorance and acting as if they are highly trained people dealing with incredible complexity and unmitigatable danger. Its as simple as it sounds. They pointed loaded guns at other people and/or themselves. Its really easy not to do it 100% of the time. Everyone knows its not ok whether they use guns on a regular basis or not.

Everyone should be able to recognize the unusual amount of irresponsibility they showed. You pretending they were above average because they had gun related jobs doesn't make it so.

The No True Scotsman fallacy doesn't apply. Its a form of unfair gatekeeping. That's not the case here. These people were ignoring everything about gun safety so its perfectly fair to say they don't fall into the category of people that are responsible.

Your lack of trust that anyone can be responsible with a gun is a separate issue. You should be able to recognize by the actions that led to the shootings that these people are not experts.


>Its really easy not to do it 100% of the time.

That's the same tired argument of C advocates regarding memory safety faults in C: "just program carefully, just don't double free / don't go over buffers, etc". As if those doing those things are consciously doing them, and can just decide not to.

And even less so is that case that someone teaching about gun safety, consciously shot himself with a loaded gun. The reality is that people with the best intentions and training can mess it, and that even more so for people don't have the best intention and training. Also people are faulty, memory is faulty, and just "you're doing it right, just do it wrong" is a naive non-solution.

>The No True Scotsman fallacy doesn't apply. Its a form of unfair gatekeeping. That's not the case here. These people were ignoring everything about gun safety so its perfectly fair to say they don't fall into the category of people that are responsible.

If these people (gun owning NRA employee, gun safety demonstrator, and tons of similar examples) can those things happen to them (and ignore safety), anybody can do it.

Even more so when gun safety isn't the issue. Even the most fanatic and OCD-level gun safety follower could just get their gun, when in some anger episode, and kill their spouses. So there's that too.

And it happens by the tons -- unless you're in the mafia or street gang, it's more likely to get it by a gun owning family/friend than by e.g. burglars.

>You should be able to recognize by the actions that led to the shootings that these people are not experts.

That's not even wrong.


Hogwash.

My military-trained father-in-law accidentally discharged his handgun inside the house while cleaning it. The bullet ricocheted and could have killed anybody.

It was a manufacturing defect. All those guns were recalled and replaced 2 months later.


He was cleaning a loaded gun?


We gave him a lot of hell thinking he did exactly that.

He claimed he unloaded it and checked he unloaded it.

A couple weeks later every single one of those guns was recalled and replaced by the manufacturer. The gun, itself, apparently had a defect wherein it could pop a round loose, hold it where you couldn't see it, and then chamber it if you knocked it a bit. I have no idea how this could possibly occur, but the manufacturer actually claimed this and wound up having to spend enough money that something wasn't right with those handguns.

Fortunately, he adhered to standard discipline and made sure the gun was never pointed at anybody. So, when it did go off, nobody was in line of fire. However, it did ricochet and still could have caused quite a bit of harm.

Always adhering to discipline doesn't make probabilities zero--it just minimizes them.


>Any discussion of gun control in America must account for the self-defense rights of Americans who do not have adequate protection from the police.

Not to detract from your excellent point but when it comes to personal defense against crime, this applies to everyone who doesn't have private security. Even if the police are 100% on your side, they can't help you if they aren't at your side. When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.


I agree. Similarly, most people who live in rural areas also have a need for guns to protect themselves adequately - from animals as well as malicious people - as police and other state protection can be an hour or more away when they try to respond rapidly.

I prefer to focus on the Black Panthers use case because there is an interesting cognitive dissonance in the modern left in that anti-racism and gun control are both promoted by the same ideological groups. Tends to be more persuasive in my liberal social bubble as I see a growing lack of empathy for rural Americans.

My personal litmus test for gun control legislation is: "Would this law meaningfully decrease access for a black single mother who is a victim of domestic violence and does not have confidence in a timely police response?"


As a Canadian, I’m always confused at how safe Americans think a gun makes them when in the woods.

Guns are not a good defence against many wild animals. Get some bear spray, it is dramatically more effective and will not kill somebody as easily if you accidentally shoot a person in the dark!

Point taken about the civil rights marches though


In New Jersey, bear spray is also illegal (or it was when I last lived there, 6 years ago). And this is in a state that acknowledges that there's a problem with bear overpopulation.


It appears an amendment to allow bear spray was proposed in 2017, but it hasn't really gone anywhere. https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/842364


I have witnessed a teen use bear spray in a fight that took place outside of tim hortons between 20 teens and an (Not naming) Food delivery service driver in their mid 40's. The guy was screaming on the floor for an hour. The Police considered it as a weapon.


Under Canadian law, pretty much anything that can be used as a weapon is illegal to carry for use as a weapon. If that fight was in a wooded area where carrying bear spray was a reasonable precaution against bears, there would be no crime. The weapon offense was for carrying bear spray with the primary intention of using it on people.


still better than having been shot multiple times at close range, no?


Oh man I'm sure glad that poor youth showed restraint and chose bear mace instead of the glock!

Sounds like you just made a great reason for concealed carry.


what are you talking about? As described, it was the teens who had the weapon - you'd rather they were carrying guns in that situation rather than bear spray? If that's so, I don't want to live in your world.


Yeah, I think bear spray is usually a more appropriate form of defense against animal attacks: in addition to effectiveness, when humans go to their 'home' it is unfair for animals' natural defense or feeding behaviors to cause their deaths.


> if you accidentally shoot a person in the dark!

Fourth rule: always identify your target.

Even despite the dark, you can attach a flashlight to your firearm that allows you to quickly identify the target before shooting at it. Most modern guns have that capability.


Your litmus test is interesting - why focus on that single group of people?

Maybe another litmus test should be "does this meaningfully decrease access to guns for a person who is planning a mass shooting?"

I don't have any stats, and I suspect more single black women die than people at the hand of mass shooters, but you see my point - it's a game of tradeoffs and focusing on a single dimension is myopic.


I don't think your litmus test is particularly useful because any gun control regulation would serve this purpose, so it allows for throwing out the good for the sake of the bad.

It is certainly somewhat arbitrary, but I think it functions as an example of a group that is often physically disadvantaged vs attackers, institutionally disenfranchised, and has reasonable apprehension at the idea of relying on police protection.

Similarly, I like to think about economic legislation in terms of "how would this law affect the chances that a child born into the poorest neighborhood will one day become wealthy?". I think by framing it in a way that lets me imagine a hypothetical individual who is currently least-empowered, it allows me to consider things with a bit more empathy as I can imagine myself in their shoes rather than abstractly thinking about groups. Its hard to reason about fairly balancing many concerns of many groups with various levels of power simultaneously, so I think iteratively looking for laws that would empower the least-empowered can function as a sort of shorthand for moral reasoning.


Most people want stricter background checks. If you pass the checks it's fine. No one is taking away your guns.


> No one is taking away your guns.

You're right, but it's not due to a lack of trying. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Beto O’Rourke all support mandatory buybacks.


Of specific guns, namely rifles designed for military use. Shotguns, pistols, and low-capacity rifles are still fine.


I don't think the military uses too many small caliber semi-auto rifles. Any modern military rifle I can think of was banned for new sale in 1986.


A technicality based on the US military's preference for select-fire rifles. Everything else about an AR-15 rifle is based on its original military purpose.


The function of operation is a pretty important technicality.

There are very few guns that aren't based on, derived from, or exactly the same as military weapons. Many of the most popular hunting rifles and shotguns around the world, even those very traditional in style, would qualify as this.


5.56x45mm? Aka .223 Remington?

7.62x51mm? Aka .308 Winchester?

Only two of the most common NATO standards.


Those are cartridges, not rifles.


This is incorrect. 5.56 != .223 Remington, same for 7.62

It's actually very dangerous to former in civilian guns, designed for latter.


Citation for 5.56 vs .223?

Fact: The external case and bullet dimensions are functionally identical

Fact: The chamber dimensions in respective rifles are close enough, +/- machining tolerances, that "very dangerous" is inaccurate fearmongering

Fact: 5.56 max pressures exceed .223 pressures (to the tune of ~12.5%), but both are subject to the vagaries of exact loading

So while it's not a good idea to fire 5.56 out of a cheap .223 rifle, it's not a death wish to do so out of a .223 engineered to accept the additional pressure.

Curious where you're getting your information?


> Citation for 5.56 vs .223?

> Curious where you're getting your information?

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute

https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Unsafe-Arms-and...

page 8:

In Firearms Chambered For: 223 Remington

Do Not Use These Cartridges:

5.56mm Military

---

Also literally first entry in FAQ on SAAMI site: https://saami.org/faqs/#ammunition-firearm-chambered

Can I use 5.56x45mm, 5.56 or 5.56 NATO ammunition in a firearm chambered for 223 Remington (223 Rem)?

NO!

It is not safe to shoot “5.56” “5.56 NATO” or “5.56x45mm” (“5.56”) ammunition in a firearm with barrel marked as being chambered in 223 Remington for a number of reasons. The main reason being that a barrel marked as chambered in 223 Remington will have a shorter throat into the rifling than a “5.56” barrel which may cause increased pressure when the “5.56” ammunition is fired in it. This can result in serious injury or death to the user and/or bystanders, as well as damage to the firearm.

However, it is safe to use SAAMI-compliant 223 Remington ammunition in firearms with a barrel marked as chambered in “5.56.”

If you are unclear about which ammunition is appropriate to safely use in your firearm, consult the firearm owner’s manual or contact the firearm manufacturer for further guidance.

> So while it's not a good idea to fire 5.56 out of a cheap .223 rifle, it's not a death wish to do so out of a .223 engineered to accept the additional pressure.

I can't find the manual online, but I'm sure that in my previous, not quite cheap, Tikka T3 Super Varmint manual it was written the same. It's only truly safe only when manufacturer says so (like it was with now discontinued Ruger Precision 223/5.56, if I recall correctly)


5.56 isn't SAAMI-standardized in the first place, so they legally shouldn't say anything other than their wording there. Which you also see on many .223 rifles as you noted.

But that's a legal perspective.

From an engineering perspective, you can certainly shoot it.

With risks somewhere between "It will behave exactly like .223" and "It will explosively disassemble your gun."

But we're not talking about rocket science here.

Machining dimensions / tolerances + chamber / barrel design + round pressure = risk

All of which are variable enough in practice to make this a grey area.


Dude, this is insane. I sincerely hope that you don't apply this logic in public shooting ranges. You asked for citation, got it, and choose to ignore it.

What you're saying is equivalent that you could go on a car that weighs 5.65 tons on a bridge that can carry only 5 tons, (given that for such bridges the both standard body and constructor explicitly says: "do not do that").

Is it possible? Of course. You even could reload your ammo with nitroglycerin and it still will fit into the rifle.

Yes, there could be some protection built into construction, but this risk worth it?


Depends on the scenario.

People know the facts and make informed choices.

That's the differences between engineers and sheep.


Yes you don't need AR-15 for basic protection.


I think at a point up this thread, the discussion was happening in terms of defence against the government (in the context of the HK protests). Arguably, you do need an AR-15 in those cases - or even something with more firepower.


> Yes you don't need AR-15 for basic protection.

What about any of the other rifles that fire the same exact cartridge but are not AR-15's? .223REM/5.56x45mm NATO, .308WIN/7.62x51mm NATO, etc... There's no talk about banning certain cartridges.

Are we just talking about banning a specific shape of a rifle? Why?

Do the people talking about confiscations and bans even understand these things?


Except from zombie hordes.


>No one is taking away your guns.

Not yet.


Why is it that it's always a one-way street WRT to gun laws?

True compromise would be red-flag laws or background checks, in exchange for national CCW, or taking suppressors and short barreled rifles off the NFA list.


Democratic candidates are proposing it in national debates though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcL_I3uTGI


The reception of his response to this on Beto O'Rouke's reddit AMA was amusing: he received 13k+ downvotes

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/d6etv5/hi_im_beto_oro...


Hence Dave Chappelle's 'joke' that African-Americans should start registering for firearm licences en masse.


They don't need licenses unless they want to concealed carry (in most states).


I don't think most Americans care about the history of the black panthers because nowadays they're a bunch of aggressive anti-white racists. At least in the media that's the only thing portrayed about them.


I always find this sentiment a little silly - if the US President went in to full dictator mode and had the support of the military, do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces? And if s/he did not have the support of the Armed Forces, it would not be a very effective dictatorship and you would not even need guns for a rebellion. I truly do not get it.


The US (with its support of the military) has been at war in the Middle East for nearly 2 decades now with insurgents.

The argument is not that a rebellious citizenry will necessarily win a war, it's that it will draw out a bloody civil war so long and so expensive as to be a form of mutually assured destruction, the risk of which acts as a check in and of itself.


The fact is that the dictator would still win. The rebellious citizenry would live a life of absolute misery, just as those in the middle east do.

The 2nd amendment made a lot of sense when weaponry consisted of horses and rifles, not computer-guided missiles. If there was ever a true US dictator, the 2nd amendment would mostly be used by the oppressed to rob, attack, and oppress one another.


>The 2nd amendment made a lot of sense when weaponry consisted of horses and rifles, not computer-guided missiles.

Let me make sure I understand your basic premise: the ability to defend yourself against a tyrannical dictatorship made sense until the government developed better technology, now it's pointless so just give up your guns?

Aside from being completely contrary to the American spirit of defending yourself from tyranny, it's based on the bogus premise that the advanced military technology can be used effectively against its own people. Where is the military going to fire those "computer guided missiles?" Into every rural home and every urban apartment window of everyone they suspect has guns, with thousands of civilian collateral casualties? Are tanks and fighter jets going to roll in and level entire economic hubs like cities? Are they going to destroy their own infrastructure? Are you envisioning "the rebellion" would set up a nice neat base in some remote location for the military to aim its tech at? Do you think the real men and women of the military would follow orders to destroy its own hometowns and families? How long before regional coups? How big do you think the US military is, relative to the armed civilian population? You are also aware that soldiers and police wear recognizable uniforms, while "the rebellion" doesn't?

I don't think you've thought this through.


Well said, I am very tired of these blasé remarks about the second amendment. Sure, the people don’t have tanks, but when the people and the guns out number the tanks 1000:1, and the tank driver doesn’t really want to fight, and those 1000 guns are all playing geurrilla tactics, I like to imagine the people stand a chance.


And if you could keep all your guns safely locked away until then, that would be great.

–thanks, everyone else.


I know you were being funny, but I actually wholly agree with this statement. Every gun owner should have safes/locks for their guns.


I was being serious. I don’t have a problem with responsible gun ownership.

Switzerland is a good model. The NRA loves to point at rates of Swiss gun ownership. If the USA implemented all of Switzerland’s gun laws I think you’d be okay.


If the USA implemented all of Switzerland’s gun laws, a citizen who passes a background check would be able to buy a newly-made full-automatic machine gun that is not allowed in the US outside of law enforcement or military. I’m not sure that is what you’re implying that you’d want.


"If the USA implemented all of Switzerland’s gun laws, a citizen who passes a background check would be able to buy a newly-made full-automatic machine gun that is not allowed in the US outside of law enforcement or military."

There are several things wrong with the above statement ...

First, in many (most) states of the United States, you can indeed purchase a fully automatic weapon / suppressor / grenade launcher / "destructive device" / etc. You'll have to pay a $200 transfer tax, submit to registration and fingerprinting and either get local CLEO signoff (Sheriff, Chief of Police) or purchase as a trust. Interestingly, you also sort of give up your fourth amendment rights as you grant the BATF right to check on the "device" at any time, for any reason.

Second, military (automatic) weapons in Switzerland are distributed by the Swiss Army and are kept in local possession under those auspices. A swiss cannot simply walk into a gun shop and buy an MP5 on a whim - regardless of background check.

Finally, and most importantly, Swiss gun laws were dramatically reworked in the past year as part of a general normalization of Swiss and EU regulations. There was a referendum and it passed - many aspects of Swiss gun laws that you may romanticize are now a thing of the past.


I like most of your answer, but didn't like that you silently dropped "newly-made" from the OP's criteria. You're welcome to argue that it doesn't matter, and just as welcome to argue that this is a good thing, but it seems odd to avoid mentioning that there is no legal way for a US citizen to purchase a fully automatic weapon manufactured after 1986 --- and that guns not subject to this ban are in very short supply and thus very expensive: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearm_Owners_Protection_Act


You are correct - I did indeed miss the "newly-made" qualifier.

For the sake of argument, however, a brand new rifle chassis mated with an RDIAS seems to fit the bill, yes ?


>First, in many (most) states of the United States, you can indeed purchase a fully automatic weapon..

This is being dishonest. Since the registry was closed in '86 there have been no additional automatic weapons added to circulation (for civilian owners) so prices start around $10k. They are basically unobtainable for people who don't have $10k to drop on a hobby and don't want to commit a felony with a coat hanger.


> If the USA implemented all of Switzerland’s gun laws, a citizen who passes a background check would be able to buy a newly-made full-automatic machine gun that is not allowed in the US outside of law enforcement or military.

But they wouldn't get access to the ammo needed to use those guns, which are stored in a central community location to combat an unwanted suicide problem (and aren't they semi-auto anyways?).

They also aren't bought, but part of ones' militia service. You know, that first clause of the USA's 2nd amendment that the pro gun lobby says to ignore.


The people are the militia. The first clause of the 2nd amendment doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Good article on this:

https://www.mic.com/articles/24210/gun-control-myth-the-seco...


The Swiss militia is setup to protect the country from foreign invaders. The 2nd amendment was setup exactly for this same reason, as the founding fathers were thinking about the British when they wrote it.

Of course, the text is vague enough that everyone will simply draw out whatever meaning they find reinforces their biases. Given that the most fervent upholders of the amendment today were draft dodgers back in the day, it is safe to say that protection of country is no longer important in their reading of the amendment.

At any rate, even if we accept that the clause is prefatory, that doesn’t make it meaningless, it has an effect on how gun rights should be maintained (so that the populace can overthrow the government or protect against foreign invaders, it is not protected for self defense, sport hunting, target practice, etc...).


In Switzerland, people can not actually buy those guns, I don't think. They are issued by the military to pretty much everybody, that's true -- but they are kept on base these days, not at home.

One of the big differences between US gun culture and Swiss gun culture is that in the US we believe in a certain right "to enjoy arms", to keep and bear them in an undisciplined and disorganised way.


Other big differences are identity and profit motive.


Profit motive?


He's saying he wants to have the 2nd amendment while simultaneously having sane gun laws that are also enforced.


Slippery slope arguments preclude judgement.


Then the USA should also enact obligatory military service. So that everyone would know how to use those guns. And see them as a grave responsibility, not just a right.


IMO every high school should be teaching first aid, gun safety, etc.


Normalisation of guns is part of the problem.


Is it? Because they’re already everywhere and statistically speaking there’s a level of responsible ownership that qualifies as statistically perfect (> 99.99).

With the level of saturation, not providing safety education is the most irresponsible course.


We do! The number of guns used in crime is a statistical whisper compared to the hundreds of millions that are in legal, peaceable private ownership and circulation in the US alone. The empirical view is vastly different than the sensational media representation, which (due to attention and advertising incentives) cherrypicks the extremely rare worst-case events.


Also take into account even if the military supported this theoretical dictator, many brothers in arms would NOT attack their fellow citizenry mindlessly. Sure there are those who will follow an order no matter what, but many folks would easily defect and help their fellow citizenry.


Yes, I do think that a gap in weapons technology is meaningful.

I love numbers so let's talk about those using the Iraq war as an example.

Here's an estimate of the number of casualties in the Iraq war: https://www.iraqbodycount.org/

Roughly 200k civilians, 90k combatants.

According to wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-National_Force_%E2%80%93... 5k western coalition forces died.

Even if these numbers are wildly inaccurate, I don't like those odds. Yes, it is difficult for the army to actually completely squash the insurgency, but there is a very messy grey zone between "winning" and "losing" where those in power relentlessly oppress the rest at relatively little cost to themselves.

I'm not saying, by the way, not to resist oppression, I am simply saying that the weapons that civilians cannot buy are very very scary, and it is probably wise to pick one's battles.


It may be wise to pick ones battles, but it certainly is braver to pick one knowing you will lose. Stupid, but brave.


Insurgents who don’t attack, don’t accomplish anything That’s why civilian insurgents have a horrible track record historically. They need to go on the offensive using poorly trained and poorly equipped troops.

A small armed resistance in the US would be incredibly ineffectual. At best preforming unless but inspiring attacks, but more realistically simply dying in droves.

You can look at hundreds of past insurrections for inspiration, but grassroots military might has almost nothing to do with their success.

PS: Just look back on the US Civil war which included actual defection of large chunks of the military etc. They started with territory and an actual military including trained officers, cannons, and warships yet still lost. Now picture what would have happened if the southern military had stayed with the north.


Not everyone who has guns, but everyone who resists. Even worst tyranny has some public support usually. And if people who tend to have guns are more inclined to support your flavor of tyranny (because you purpose-built it that way), you side step most of those problems.


> Even worst tyranny has some public support usually.

Tyranny always has public support. The evil wizard lord of a kingdom scenario has never and will never occur in reality - someone despised by everyone cannot come into power... That doesn't mean the tyrant has the majority of public support, but I'd find it hard to believe any tyrant has less than 30% when coming to power.


Someone despised by everyone can come into power when they are born into it. King John of England is a common example, though I don't know how historically accurate.

That said, your point is important and something many people don't seem to understand: those foreign leaders we in the West like to describe as tyrants, dictators, despots, strongmen, etc, are generally at least popular at home, and often adored.


I don't really accept King John as a counter example. I'd revise my statement above to clarify that only someone with popular support can usurp power - unpopular monarchy can inherit power either because (1) the monarchy as an institution is more regarded than individual monarchs (2) once seizing power a tyrant can usually reduce their popular support and retain that power - the same holds for institutions of power, so the monarchy might not be popular but enough power is gained from and invested in it's continuance that no one wants it to go away[1]. John also may have been a desirable monarch because he was initially a useful idiot and managed to ride luck to transform that initial investiture of some power into a stronger reign.

Lastly, popular support is from the factions, not the people - in medieval europe most of the people had no factional representation politically, all the power had been entirely concentrated in the various estates.

1. See Lord Vetinari in like every discworld book ever.


The Nazis started their power grab in earnest after the arsoning of the Reichstag. Even before that incident, public opinion was actually already firmly against the communists. To this day there are debates on who exactly arsoned the Reichstag, but it was suspiciously convenient for the Nazis so they could blame the communists. Soon after this incident, laws were passed that effectively abolished the constitution and granted the Nazi the power they required to establish their rule.


Isn't this basically what the fascist in Germany, the communists in China and the Soviet Union, and countless other examples did? It is weird that people think that Americans are somehow a morally superior people to all the other countries that had already fallen down that path. I mean we are already locking up toddlers in cages and I haven't heard a single report of any push back from the people who are controlling those detention camps. World history has taught us that people are perfectly willing to betray or even kill their neighbor as long as you give them a believable enough reason. If anything, I think the overabundance of guns makes things more likely to go to shit quicker rather than less.


Surprised you're downvoted. The U.S. already has one civil war in its history, conducted when the 2nd amendment was in force and even more people owned guns than do today. It played out exactly like what the grandparent said was ridiculous: the respective militaries fired into every rural and urban home, set whole plantations on fire, destroyed their own infrastructure, killed their brothers and extended families, fought over their hometowns, and caused thousands of civilian casualties. There were in fact regional coups - really, the whole thing was one big regional coup, with some fractal splitting in the borderlands - but that didn't stop the bloodshed. And eventually, the guy who nobody in the rebellious states voted for won.

War is not rational. People will destroy all sorts of stuff if something close to their identity is under threat.


The second amendment was nothing then like it is today; until 2008 it has been interpreted to mean the states have a right to raise a militia, not as an individual mandate to possess firearms.


That is not true, although there is a DailyKos article that says that.

Whatever rights they wanted to give the states in the Constitution, they gave to "the states". The right to bear arms was specifically given to "the people", to prevent disarmament.


The states are not the same as the people. You literally notice what you wrote is different in the two sets of quotes you have here, right?


Right, the states are not the same as the people. The right to bear arms is the right "of the people".


No, it's a right of a "well regulated militia", which was at the time run by the states.

The militia wouldn't have been mentioned if it wasn't relevant, and it's only relevant if it's a limitation to the individual right to bear arms.


It is strange that you say that because the wording is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” and not “the right of the militia...” and, again, not the right of the states.

The militia certainly are relevant but how they are relevant is the question, not the answer. There are a lot of ways to argue about that, but the right of keeping and bearing arms is literally called the right “of the people” — it isn’t assigned to any other body and the founders certainly had the language to do so if they wanted to.

How we keep and bear the arms is a great question. To my own mind, it would be better if training were more front-loaded. Right now, you buy a gun to be able to get training — seems backwards. It could also be much better if more people held guns through equitable ownership of trusts with firearms homed at a range or other secure location. The net effect would be fewer, more varied and better maintained firearms. The trust also provides a locus for training standards, liability insurance and cooperation with law enforcement.


It's called a right of the people because back when it was written, the militias were made up of "the people", but not in an individual, "each person gets a say" kind of way.

This isn't the scholarly debate people make it out to be; there is a clear meaning, and it's been muddled over the past 30 years by special interests who have corrupted the original intent of the law.

The problems the second amendment was written to solve don't exist anymore, so the second amendment shouldn't exist anymore.


What were the problems the 2nd Amendment was written to solve, and what happened to them?

There isn’t anything scholarly or muddled about reading the “the right of the people” to reference a right held by people and not by states or the federal government.


Why are you asking me to give you a history lesson? Go look it up! Much more authoritative sources than I available to you if you actually want to know what was going on at the time.

Once you've done that you will realize that it was VERY specifically written to deal with a problem going on at the time. Hell, there are even comments in this very submission that also describe.


I am asking you to clarify and support your position — to say what the problems you are referring to actually are, and how, in your view, they went away — not to give me a history lesson.


> What were the problems the 2nd Amendment was written to solve, and what happened to them?

Google this. Get a factual basis under your feet and our conversation can continue. Figure out what Britain was trying to do at the time to the then-colonies, what laws it was passing. Go read federalist paper #46, understand Madison's contemporary writings of the time to get a better view of the mindset of the author of the Second Amendment. Read other contemporary writings, read opinions on the various Supreme Court decisions.

Do some homework, then ask the question again because while I could give you this lesson with my viewpoint already embedded, you need to arrive there on your own if your mind is actually going to be changed.


Please present your position in a verifiable way, that someone can inquire after.

Where you say, “The problems the second amendment was written to solve don't exist anymore, so the second amendment shouldn't exist anymore.”, you present a claim in a vague way, difficult to argue for or against, because you don’t say what the problems were or how you know they were solved.

This is not about me doing my homework or lacking necessary knowledge — my unwillingness to fill in the gaps in your argument is not indicator of some insufficiency on my part. Telling me to “Google this” and get a “factual basis under my feet” is simple rudeness, and besides the point.


It very much is about you doing your homework. You need to have a certain level of prerequisite knowledge about history at the time of Madison et. al., and you seem to lack that.

The only reason you perceive what I've written as rudeness is because you're bringing your ego to bear on this conversation, not your intellect.

Further, what you are attempting to do is akin to a zip bomb. "Spend hours crafting a response for me so I don't have to do any research or provide any understanding of my own, please!"

Gladly, but my rates are ~$500/hr. Let me know how you'd like to proceed!


You said the problems that the 2nd Amendment addressed are no longer relevant; but you did not say what you think those problems are. If it took hours for you to clarify that...it would be strange.


Preempting your next reply with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0r930Sn_8

If you do nothing else, please watch.


And yet people did possess firearms - it was pretty necessary when living an agrarian life on the frontier, then as now.

Curious how you think that would alter the conclusion? If anything organized resistance would be more effective then, because you already had state militias and rough technological parity with the military.


I'm not sure what your point is... both the Union and the Confederacy were "well regulated" armies which issued weapons to their soldiers, in great numbers, and even by then military technology was beginning to outpace simple farm muskets.

I feel like you're treating all guns as equal, when that wasn't true in the civil war and is completely not true now.


This is the text of the second amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." From its advent until somewhere around the mid to late 20th century it was interpreted universally as an individual right. The founding fathers and others of the time wrote extensively on this and it was not controversial for centuries.

Wiki provides numerous examples of early commentary here. [1] I find the most compelling and clear to be that of Judge Thomas M. Cooley, which I'll include at the bottom due to its length. In brief form: he posits that if the law were constrained only to the militia, and not the masses of people that may comprise it, then it would be quite a pointless amendment as the very government it seeks to protect individuals from could undermine it by inaction or neglect in regards to the formation of that militia.

What happened in 2008 was DC vs Heller. [2] After DC banned guns in 1975, a police officer found himself in a situation where he was able to have a gun during his line of duty but was left unarmed in the increasingly dangerous and deteriorating neighborhood that he lived in. He petitioned the NRA for help fighting the law. They refused, so he went to the Cato Institute. They (Heller along with 5 other citizens) filed suit, it made its way to the supreme court, and the supreme court unambiguously affirmed that it's indeed an individual right.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United...

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller

Full quote of Judge Cooley:

"It might be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been elsewhere explained, consists of those persons who, under the law, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon. But the law may make provision for the enrolment of all who are fit to perform military duty, or of a small number only, or it may wholly omit to make any provision at all; and if the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of this guaranty might be defeated altogether by the action or neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms; and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well-regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than the mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in doing so the laws of public order."


> In brief form: he posits that if the law were constrained only to the militia, and not the masses of people that may comprise it, then it would be quite a pointless amendment as the very government it seeks to protect individuals from could undermine it by inaction or neglect in regards to the formation of that militia.

It should be noted that the Bill of Rights was originally interpreted to only limit the actions of the federal government, not the state governments. It should also be noted that one of the major events on the road to the American Revolution was the British government's attempts to disarm the militias in Massachusetts, which resulted in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, so the theory that the government might permit the militia but outlaw its arms was not mere theory but an actual historic act well-known to the drafters.

The modern controversy is whether or not the right in the Second Amendment is a right to keep arms is inherently a military right [1] or if it protects personal arms entirely separate from military contexts. The text isn't particularly helpful, and I suspect in large part because for the people who wrote it, there wasn't a separation between the right to personal use versus the right to military use--if you could use them, you were a member of the militia.

[1] I'm using military as a catch-all term here, which would include militia, civil defense, police, and other similar occupations. In the 18th century, these duties would have been performed by the military or the militia, as dedicated police forces had yet to be invented.


Perhaps the militia, as a social institution, would correct the issues we see with gun ownership in the US today.

The militia is always in its construction open to everyone, whereas the gun community is seen as a kind of subculture today.

The militia brings people together in a context where the underlying story about arms is not one of power, violence or even self-defence but rather one of duty, personal discipline, safety and cooperation.

The militia provides a way for people to learn a lot about firearms and firearms safety before buying a gun, as opposed to the situation in the US we have today where often the requirements for an intro course include one's own gun.

As a social institution, militia would not necessarily have to be government funded.


It's interesting that militia are looked at with a lot more suspicion than individual gun ownership. Buy a gun as a mentally-healthy individual with no prior criminal record, and nobody bats an eye. Get together with a few hundred of your gun-toting buddies to train together, and the FBI is probably going to come knocking, unless you're a private security contractor with an obvious profit motive.

Possibly says a lot about what the government does or does not consider a threat.


Probably better to think in terms of a "military philosophy society" or something like that -- the idea isn't to build a logistics chain for conducting combat operations (that is what a militia has to do) but rather provide a pro-social context for people to learn skills and safety and military history. In the event of a conflict, the members of such an organisation would join the military, not deploy as a separate group with their own colours or what have you (which is what a militia would do).


Can you elaborate on what you mean in regards to the Bill of Rights being interpreted to only apply to the federal government? This seems to be in contradiction the supremacy clause.


The concept is known as "incorporation"--Wikipedia has a detail here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_the_Bill_of_R...

In short, until the 14th Amendment (and even for some time afterwards), it was generally held that the Bill of Rights only bound Congress. The 1st Amendment starts with "Congress shall make no law," explicitly limiting it to the federal government. While the other amendments don't explicitly mention Congress or states, the original proposals did explicitly include mention of states in some of them, which were struck out before being accepted by Congress.


Thomas M. Cooley and you are both right, the Second Amendment is now completely useless, as it was written in a time when individual states operated their own militias who were actively being disarmed by the "tyrannical" government at the time. Now they don't and therefore aren't being disarmed, so it can go away entirely.

Trying to warp this specific Amendment written 220+ years ago to serve as guidance for modern times is a farce, and has been manipulated by special interests into causing the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.

Thomas M. Cooley recognized that, but didn't draw the better conclusion; that the Second Amendment needs to be revoked.

2008 was a substantial setback, but it isn't the end of the conversation. The Second Amendment will be the thing our grandkids shame us most about.


In the instances you mention, the government tended to pass gun control or confiscation before engaging in widescale tyranny. In 1938 Nazi Germany passed a gun control law that effectively gave 'true Germans' vastly more gun rights (which had been compulsory rescinded at the end of WW1) yet, they it simultaneously prohibited Jews from owning any weapon - even knives. [1] The holocaust began in 1941.

In 1924 in the Soviet Union all firearms were banned except for smoothbore shotguns which pose minimal In the danger outside of close range. [2] This was greatly expanded with increased penalties and also eventually applied to knives as well. The culling of opponents and directed starvations began around 1929 leading to the deaths of millions of Soviets.

In 1966 China laid out the foundation of their now famously strict gun laws. That was the same year that Mao began the "Cultural Revolution" leading to the deaths of millions of Chinese.

Ultimately their civilians, by the time the worst came, had no way to pose any resistance. And so they died.

---

As for our situation, I think we can appeal to the declaration of independence: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

You're comparing a transient discomfort for a relatively tiny number of people entering the country illegally, to events where millions of citizens were systematically and intentionally killed or starved to death by their governments.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disarmament_of_the_German_Jews

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_the_Soviet_Unio...

[3] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_China


Directly from the Wikipedia article you linked:

>The Jews of Germany constituted less than 1 percent of the country's population. It is preposterous to argue that the possession of firearms would have enabled them to mount resistance against a systematic program of persecution implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by a well-armed police state, and either supported or tolerated by the majority of the German population. Mr. Carson's suggestion that ordinary Germans, had they had guns, would have risked their lives in armed resistance against the regime simply does not comport with the regrettable historical reality of a regime that was quite popular at home. Inside Germany, only the army possessed the physical force necessary for defying or overthrowing the Nazis, but the generals had thrown in their lot with Hitler early on.

You could even argue that armed push back from the Jews would have resulted in more popular support for their extermination and would have hastened and worsened the Holocaust.

>As for our situation, I think we can appeal to the declaration of independence...

The Declaration of Independence is irrelevant here. We aren't talking about any legal, moral, or ethical reason for opposing despots. We are talking about it from a practical perspective. It is wildly less practical today than it was in the 18th century because the growth in military might of today's government has far outpaced the firepower available to the citizenry.

>You're comparing a transient discomfort for a relatively tiny number of people entering the country illegally, to events where millions of citizens were systematically and intentionally killed or starved to death by their governments.

And just like with the earlier examples, things start slow. The temperate of the political water in the US is rising and like a frog, no one has yet jumped out of the pot. That doesn't spell doom yet, but it also doesn't forecast great things if the political environment continues to worsen.


Let's take a single eccentric artist and vegetarian of no meaningful background, wealth, or power. By his 30th birthday our artist was no better off and his life's greatest achievement was working as a low ranking courier during WW1. What are the odds that this arist would go on to become one of the most important and powerful individuals in history and one who would come to within a hair's breadth of dominating the entire modern world? It's never wise to speak in certainties in regards to alternate histories.

One of the few things we can say for certain is that tyrants don't like having their targets armed. Would having arms have saved the Jews, the Soviets, the Chinese, etc? That's impossible to answer. But it'd certainly have given them more options and opportunities, rather than fewer.


> the ability to defend yourself against a tyrannical dictatorship made sense until the government developed better technology, now it's pointless so just give up your guns?

Basically, yes. Do you honestly think people would have any chance against probably the most powerful army in the world? Sure, they could try fighting a guerilla warfare, they'd even inflict some casualties against the enemy but it's unlikely that in the end they'd succeed against an army that is professional, highly skilled, better equipped, has better offensive and defensive capabilities, knows a lot more about tactics and logistics and has trained for this type of situation on a daily basis.

> Are they going to destroy their own infrastructure?

Would they even consider it their own infrastructure? Or would they consider it infrastructure currently held by rebels, which needs to be either seized or destroyed?

> Do you think the real men and women of the military would follow orders to destroy its own hometowns and families?

I suspect a lot of them would destroy towns if they we're told that these are now enemy bases. This has been repeated in many parts of the world throughout the history, even recent one. If they wouldn't, they'd be defectors and it really wouldn't matter whether the war was fought with modern weapons or sticks and stones.


It wouldn't work as you imagine because it would be far too expensive for the government. In the Middle East it works out because none of our infrastructure is affected by the war; so our GDP, and thus tax revenue, is still strong. In a civil war where the government is bombing its own infrastructure the cost for each kill will skyrocket and the effect on the economy will be catastrophic. Fighting a defensive war is immeasurably cheaper than an offensive war as the defenders value the lives of their soldiers much less than the offenders do. Also keep in mind that a rebel faction could very easily sabotoge critical infrastructure like electricity which would be very difficult to repair in a timely manner.

Relying on very expensive advanced weaponry is the modern equivalent of relying on mercenaries, and Machiavelli told us why mercenaries are bad.


>>>Do you honestly think people would have any chance against probably the most powerful army in the world?

You are placing waaaay too much faith in technology. Look at the Saudis: one of the worlds highest military budgets, and stockpiles of first-rate western hardware.....they are getting absolutely routed by Houthis, who run up desert mountains with just sandals, an AK, and a mouth full of stimulants.

>>>Sure, they could try fighting a guerilla warfare, they'd even inflict some casualties against the enemy but it's unlikely that in the end they'd succeed against an army that is professional, highly skilled, better equipped, has better offensive and defensive capabilities, knows a lot more about tactics and logistics and has trained for this type of situation on a daily basis.

What is the data that is driving you to this conclusion? Are you ignoring pretty much every counter-insurgency experience the US has had for the last 50 years? [2][3]

>>>I suspect a lot of them would destroy towns if they we're told that these are now enemy bases.

I suspect you don't know actual American military personnel very well, especially officers and NCOs, and how seriously we take the Laws of Warfare, AND the Constitution.

[1]https://www.snafu-solomon.com/2019/09/pics-of-houthi-rebels-...

[2]https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/05/why-america-lost-in-afg...

[3]https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2015-0...


> I suspect you don't know actual American military personnel very well, especially officers and NCOs, and how seriously we take the Laws of Warfare, AND the Constitution.

You're right, I don't. But, if Americans don't need to fear that they'll have to fight the US Army, why have the 2nd amendment at all? Who would they need to protect themselves against?


Rioters, rogue police, vigilantes, rogue militas, nazis, militaries commanded by those that are not upholding the constitution. Honestly your argument makes it more sensible that we should open up restrictions and allow more lethal weapons.


> Sure, they could try fighting a guerilla warfare, they'd even inflict some casualties against the enemy but it's unlikely that in the end they'd succeed against an army that is professional, highly skilled, better equipped, has better offensive and defensive capabilities, knows a lot more about tactics and logistics and has trained for this type of situation on a daily basis.

Have you heard of the Viet Cong?


> Have you heard of the Viet Cong?

The one that got basically wiped out despite foreign backing (though the regular army that was their most direct supporter—the North Vietnamese Army—intervened and ultimately won the war after they were crushed)? Yeah, heard of them.

They kind of prove (or at least demonstrate) the point the grandparent post was making, though.


> Where is the military going to fire those "computer guided missiles?"

Blowing up a home or two harboring a "terrorist cell" during a meeting I'm sure will be deterrence enough for a lot of those gun owners.

> Are they going to destroy their own infrastructure?

The infrastructure is the exact kind of ground that can be held much more securely against pistols and rifles using the U.S.'s advanced weaponry.

> Do you think the real men and women of the military would follow orders to destroy its own hometowns and families?

See the Arab Spring for reference on this one

> How long before regional coups?

I'm sure a civilian populace will experience war fatigue waaay before a trained, well paid, well fed military.

You're coming up with a hypothetical scenario where it's the entire US government against the entire populace. In the real world it doesn't happen that way - the populace is divided between the rebels and the government supporters.

Besides, look at today's political climate: most of the gun owners are the one's backing our most authoritarian leader! If, somehow, we were to slide into dictatorship you can be sure the leader would make whatever promises necessary to get the gun toters on his/her side.


>>>Blowing up a home or two harboring a "terrorist cell" during a meeting I'm sure will be deterrence enough for a lot of those gun owners.

Why would you draw that conclusion, when pretty much every available case study (re: drone strikes and terrorism) clearly shows otherwise?

>>>Besides, look at today's political climate: most of the gun owners are the one's backing our most authoritarian leader!

Is he really our most authoritarian? How authoritarian would you rank him compared to Obama, the first President to order a drone strike to kill an American citizen without due process? [1]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki


> when pretty much every available case study (re: drone strikes and terrorism) clearly shows otherwise?

I'm pretty sure I read those case studies differently than you do. Why, do you suppose, the military continues to make drone strikes if they are ineffective?

> How authoritarian would you rank [Trump] compared to Obama

Waaaaay more authoritarian. By his own admission, even. Trump praises, celebrates, and socializes with dictators on a much greater scale than Obama.

And if the single largest signal you're drawing from Anwar al-Awlaki's killing is that Obama is authoritarian, then I think you need to step back and examine that situation more broadly.


>If, somehow, we were to slide into dictatorship you can be sure the leader would make whatever promises necessary to get the gun toters on his/her side.

This demonstrates to me that you understand the political power of an armed citizenry, the same group that you used the first half of your post to discredit by suggesting "blowing up a home or two" would be enough to suppress them.


It's reductionist to say the armed civilians have no effect whatsoever. But my last point was to emphasize that "armed civilians" are not a protection against dictatorship.

I still believe that, even if he failed to persuade the gun owners, a dictator's armies win against an armed populace.


You are talking about war like it's like a football game. You have one, and when the time's up, it's over. You have a clear winner and a clear loser based on the scoreboard.

Wars are comprised of many battles, which may or may not cause one side to "win." Wars are over when both sides agree to stop. What compels a side to agree to stop? Many, many things. The US won every major battle in Vietnam, yet there isn't a clear cut winner. The CSA probably would have been an independent nation had Lincoln not been reelected in 1864, a victory Lincoln himself didn't think would happen.

The point being, an insurgency, yes, ultimately wants to "win", but winning includes things like protecting food / water, freer movement, slowing down an advance, creating safe areas, disrupting the enemies ability to wage war as effectively, or just general annoyance of the enemy. If this can go on until the opponent ultimately loses the will to fight, or offers acceptable concessions, it's a victory. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming, parade-in-the-streets type victory, it just has to make the enemy lose the will to fight the insurgency.


> Blowing up a home or two harboring a "terrorist cell" during a meeting I'm sure will be deterrence enough for a lot of those gun owners.

By deterrence, did you actually mean motivation?

Killing someone's family and friends often radicalizes them, and I would say it very rarely pacifies them.

I mean look at the example of the HK protests: the police didn't stop them by kicking some people's teeth in [1], they actually fueled them by doing that.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000006702862/hon...


No. I believe that the sum total effect would be deterrence - sure some would radicalize and may throw themselves suicidally against the regime, but I believe the majority would give way to their desire for self preservation.

Why does the USA order strikes on terrorist targets, knowing full well there will be blowback? Because, on the whole, the strategy works.


> No. I believe that the sum total effect would be deterrence - sure some would radicalize and may throw themselves suicidally against the regime, but I believe the majority would give way to their desire for self preservation.

Your belief is contradicted by recent evidence.

> Why does the USA order strikes on terrorist targets, knowing full well there will be blowback? Because, on the whole, the strategy works.

No, it doesn't. They've been doing that for 20 years in Afghanistan, and we still have headlines like:

"Afghan government controls just 57 percent of its territory, U.S. watchdog says" (2017)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/02...

"As talks to end the war in Afghanistan continue in Qatar this week, and amid continued political disarray in Kabul, there seems to be one clear trend on the ground: The Taliban are consolidating control. The longer the war drags on—now in its 18th year—the more the balance of the conflict tips in the insurgent group’s favor. While there has been fierce debate in the West and in government-controlled areas of Afghanistan about what peace talks with the Taliban mean for women’s rights and the future of Afghan democracy, the view from Taliban-controlled areas suggests a harsh reality that few in the international community seem prepared for: If peace talks succeed, the Taliban will effectively formalize, and likely expand, their control over vast swaths of the country. If peace talks fail, however, the outcome will likely be far worse, with renewed fighting and a precarious government in Kabul."

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/07/04/afghanistan-taliban-pea...


> Blowing up a home or two harboring a "terrorist cell" during a meeting I'm sure will be deterrence enough for a lot of those gun owners.

Like cutting the head from a hydra, this would spawn dozens of new "terrorist cells" in response. Military is made from the citizenry, and without moral authority, command would lose power and become opposed by many of their own forces (in addition to the general populace)


I find the strength of your argument unconvincing. It's possible that is how it will play out, but it's possible it will also play out differently. My expectation is that uncertainty is part of the second amendment calculus.


During the cold war, both Russia and the US developed a post-strike strike capability (basically a response if your enemy nukes you first which in turn destroys your enemy). The US called this a 'second strike' capability, and Russia called this the 'deadman's hand'. Most commenters since have simply referred to it as "mutually assured destruction" or MAD.

Here's the thing - from an ethical standpoint, it never makes sense to actually fire it. If you're dead, well, you're dead - there's no sense in murdering millions of citizens of an enemy nation.

At the same time, by its very presence, you've made it very seemingly difficult for your enemy to ever engage in a nuclear first strike because they'd be signing their own death warrant.

Could the US military defeat a bunch of armed citizens? Well, purely by the numbers, probably. It'd be really bad for morale though, and a lot of innocent people would die, and realistically, there's not really much of a country left at that point anymore. Without a check, the Government can do whatever it wants because it always has a cheat card, but with the check, the government has to at least pretend to respect the citizens.

> ...it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time


I still don't understand the argument.

Compare

* armed citizenry gathering illegally and getting slaughtered by a superior military force

* weaponless non-violent citizenry gathering illegally and getting slaughtered by a military force (which would have been superior to the citizens if they had been armed)

You've already conceded that the armed citizenry is no match for the military. At best your point about morale is equally true in both cases. At worst arming the crowd gives a boost to military morale because armed opponents gives them a way to rationalize their slaughtering.

Finally: if the slaughter of innocent citizens still matters to a critical mass of other citizens, it's vastly more powerful for them to hear that the citizens had been unarmed. And if there is no longer a critical mass of other citizens to organize against the military, then you're screwed either way.

I just can't figure out what the benefit to arms would be in this case, especially given that there obvious downsides to arming a population.


> You've already conceded that the armed citizenry is no match for the military

That's not what I said. I said the military probably wins numerically. For what it's worth, numerically the civil war should have been over in about 6 months and an entirely lopsided victory by the Union. "Probably" should most certainly to be understand as "the most likely but not certain outcome". The US probably would have won Vietnam if they had continued fighting another decade - would it have been worth it though?

And the time element is part of the issue. It turns out if you show up, massacre of a bunch of unarmed folks in a day or two and then do a halfway decent job of suppressing it, well, Tiananmen square.

In the US, when we've had the military fire on citizens, the response was a bunch of upset, armed citizens said "We'd really like to see due process happen." And then unlike Tiananmen, the perpetrators were arrested and tried in a civilian judicial system because that was less terrible than an armed population getting rather upset.

Remember, this is the whole reason why the founding fathers were pro individual ownership of firearms - they had been the victims of military massacres, military troops being quartered in private houses, and eventually their own government hiring mercenaries to enforce the peace through force. Part of why the British chose to hire foreign mercenaries for swaths of the war instead of use their own troops was because they were concerned about morale and defections. Likewise, the first thing the British wanted to do once things started going south was to lock up all the ammunition and arms so the citizens couldn't put up any trouble.


>Here's the thing - from an ethical standpoint, it never makes sense to actually fire it. If you're dead, well, you're dead - there's no sense in murdering millions of citizens of an enemy nation.

Everybody does not die in a nuclear war. You want your survivors to have a better chance. Leaving whoever nuked you mostly untouched is highly counterproductive to that.


I am sure the enemy nation doesn't care about the stick and stone huts your heavily cancer prone survivors will be building after they rediscover the bow and arrow. When you launch total nuclear war you are well past the "Let's invade and take their land" bit.


Essentially you are saying to sit back and watch because there is nothing you can do about it. The point of the 2nd amendment is that you have the right hold a militia and bear arms against an oppressive government. Whether you will win or not is not the argument, but rather that you have the right to protect and defend yourself as the oppressed. While it’s easy to sit on a couch relaxed and watching the news all while saying “we should get rid of guns”, it’s a lot different story to be in the midst of a contention or oppression.


The 2nd amendment is effectively a lifestyle hobby.

We are very, very far away from a civil war or anything resembling what is going to happen in Hong Kong. But if things do ever start to skid in the wrong direction, we'll end up doing the same thing that others have done.

Put up a fight with or without "militias", and then after it's crushed, when the economy collapses, money is worthless, and crazed libertarian warlords rule the land... mass migration. The irony will not be lost on latin America.


Every war goes to the streets in the end. No amount of tanks or missiles stops this eventuality. At some point you are going door to door with guns. You can't just bomb people from far away with a few missiles and wipe your hands clean of it and call it a day.

The only effective bombing campaign that subdued a citizenry outright in military history were nukes, and if we ever crossed that line as a nation where the government nuked it's own citizens to quell rebellion, we are never coming back from that as a nation. It would leave a scar on humanity. Whatever would be left of the United States after that event would curse the people that did it.

So to your point, the 2A is not antiquated, if the US government had any interest in having an intact territory, at some point it would need to get face to face with the people, and the presence of firearms in the citizenry acts as a check against this possibility, and an escape option for the citizens of it ever got there.


>The only effective bombing campaign that subdued a citizenry outright in military history were nukes

The firebombs and the nukes didn't subdue the citizenry. They were still willing to follow their cause to the death. You can't win against that unless you're going to kill each and every last one of them.

The nukes showed their leader that his people would be destroyed with little cost to the enemy and convinced him to call it off.


I just don't see any historical evidence that superior weaponry always wins, whereas there are plenty of examples to the contrary. So I don't know why it's a "fact" that the dictator would still win.


The exceptions prove the rule, as well does the entirety of New World colonization.


Except the US military doesn't just have superior weaponry. It also has superior training, superior discipline, superior logistics, superior intelligence, superior force projection capability, superior everything.

Unlike the Taliban or the Viet Cong, the US citizenry, even armed, would be like chaff.

edit: so many downvotes. I guess I hit a sore spot. I'm sorry the truth hurts, guys and gals. :)


I'm not disagreeing with you over the difference in skill/training/etc. The Viet Cong and Taliban are obviously superior than the average American citizen. But I doubt that their respective victories were because of their military prowess. They turned the battlefield into an un-winnable game by requiring the military to effectively destroy the country in order to win. By the time the superior military wins, there's very little value left. War isn't just a game of who has the bigger guns and better soldiers.

If we descend to such a state where an American president is (a) willing to completely annihilate the population, (b) can either bypass congress or get their approval to do so, and (c) can mobilize our military to perform the annihilation, then perhaps your point is correct.

I wouldn't exactly hold my breath on that.


> The Viet Cong and Taliban are obviously superior than the average American citizen. But I doubt that their respective victories were because of their military prowess.

The VC were utterly crushed, leading the NVA to get more directly involved in the South rather than using them as a catspaw. To the extent that the combined operation had success (which it clearly did) it was because of the NVA—a regular army—and the backing they had even further up the Communist food chain.


Not sure why you’re downvoted as this reflects the historical record.

During Tet, the VC was crushed and ceased being an effective fighting force in the south. The NVA was forced to pick up the slack.

The eventual takeover of south Vietnam was by conventional military forces.


Will those superior logistics stay in place when mountain passes are swarming with insurgents, and railways are getting bombed left and right? What good will the advanced weapons be when the insurgents are blending into your own taxpayers?


> Except the US military doesn't just have superior weaponry. It also has superior training, superior discipline, superior logistics, superior intelligence, superior force projection capability, superior everything.

You assume that all members of the US military would fight on behalf of the government. All members of the armed forces swear an oath to the US Constitution, not the federal government, so it's pretty much certain that a non-trivial proportion would defect from the will of the government if the orders were contrary to the oath sworn to the US Constitution. At that point, that superior training, discipline, logistics, intelligence, force projection, everything is also in the hands of the insurgency against unconstitutional orders.


The US citizenry includes an absolute fuckton of former military.

You're simply wrong, it's not "the truth".


> The 2nd amendment made a lot of sense when weaponry consisted of horses and rifles

Around the time of the founding, there was privately-owned field artillery (and rifles were still in limited deployment).

The second amendment made sense when calling up the militia/posse comitatus was an essential feature of how the government at all levels dealt with internal and external security threats, such that it was not planning to meet such needs with fully professional forces is most cases.

Note that this was true, in both internal and external cases, for much of the life of the Republic though less so over time; for external security the idea was essentially written off after Vietnam with the adoption of the all-volunteer force. For internal security it's just about as dead, though there's not an equivalent milestone.


We still have privately owned field artillery, among other things:

https://youtu.be/qtFczo5ZCwY?t=934


The 2nd amendment made sense when the enemy was a group of people across the ocean (the British), and other groups of people from across the ocean that they hired as mercenaries (the Hessians). Keeping the common people armed to be used as foot-soldiers in case of foreign invasion is not a bad idea if invasion is a serious concern; Switzerland still does this to this day.

For protecting against your own government, it really doesn't make that much sense. Your own government has to have support of your own military, which gets its members from the population: the military is made of your own neighbors. If your military is committed to the government and doesn't mind shooting their own family and neighbors, then you have a problem that arming people with small arms isn't going to solve: the rebels just aren't going to be that numerous. More likely, the military isn't going to support this action at all, and will mutiny and either implode as different factions within the military fight each other, or the military will stage a coup and take over the government (this has happened before many times, in other nations). In short, if the military supports the dictator, the armed opposition really has no chance of winning. If the opposition has a chance of winning, they don't need weapons because the military isn't going to support the dictator.


Imagine if the armed forces were equipped with smart weapons that could be disabled remotely for this very reason, and imagine if the government hired mercenaries to fight rebels instead of using its own armed forces?


The Hessians fighting against Washington's army were not mercenaries, they were feudal levies from the House of Hanover's continental holdings.


No way would the dictator win. The US military relies on a huge amount of logistics. Fighting happening on US soil would severely undermine that. You can't exactly bomb your own cities with B-52s, because that's where the bombs are made. The US military would draw maybe a few million people - the rest of the populace would still be over 300 million people with a gun for every single person. Furthermore, it's virtually impossible for the military not to split under a dictator that fights their own people.


But in the US there are as many guns in circulation as people. If you’re assuming even 20% of citizens hold those firearms you’re looking at an armed opposition that numbers over 60 million people.

It doesn’t matter how advanced your technology is, there’s a certain point where numbers win.

You’re also assuming that military personnel themselves wouldn’t defect and side with their fellow citizens in such a situation, which would also make a lot of the same technology available to the hypothetical resistance.

When you look at those numbers, it becomes clearer why pushes to disarm the population when there isn’t a problem present such a huge threat to the country.


You're talking about maybe a million combat soldiers, before the massive attrition due to fighting against the Constitution, against 10's of millions of insurgents, all with a surplus of light weapons. It's not like those computer-guided missiles will have a target, as like most insurgencies there won't be many set piece battles.


And even if you have a target against the insurgents, the target is likely going to be next to some service member's home.


or like you know, protect themselves from others...


Who is the occupying army in this scenario? Is it the US Army, made up of citizen volunteers, being asked to oppress their fellow citizens? Or is it an invading army or an army of mercenaries, in which case what side is the US Army on?


This is assuming that the military and all constituents would follow martial law, which I think is not at all a certainty.


There's an interesting sci-fi dystopia in there, maybe. Everything up to light machine guns are available with no restrictions to anyone who wants to buy them. The government constantly talks up the sanctity of the right to bear arms, and the importance of being prepared at all times to defend innocents against <insert scapegoat group here>. The dystopian military enforcers wear bulletproof powered armor, and private ownership of any weapon that can pierce that armor is a "grievous threat to public order," punishable by summary execution.


That's not far off from reality. It's illegal to sell armor piercing ammo, but not illegal to buy it or possess it. And certain municipalities(my own local one) are looking at regulating the sale and possession of body armor. Which to me is more egregious, as body armor is inherently not a weapon. Nor is it a force multiplier against law enforcement, as fully automatic weapons could be construed as. And it has practical uses in the sporting world. I know more than a few people that choose to wear body armor at public ranges as extra insurance against the potential stupidity of those around them.


>>>The dystopian military enforcers wear bulletproof powered armor, and private ownership of any weapon that can pierce that armor is a "grievous threat to public order," punishable by summary execution.

Which sounds like a deterrent.....until the insurgents use autonomous vehicle technology to pilot dump trucks full of fertilizer explosives into the enforcers.

https://hugokaaman.com/2017/02/14/the-history-and-adaptabili...

https://hugokaaman.com/2019/03/13/islamic-state-the-cross-pr...

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/Eng...


Well, it's dystopian sci-fi. Of course there's got to be some way to hit back against the oppressors.

On the other hand, if your battle plan involves using up an entire truck for each enemy soldier (or squad?) neutralized, I feel like you're gonna have a hard time scaling that up to open warfare.


With the number of Ford F-150s in the US (or Toyota Tacomas in the Mid-East), it scales reasonably well when either used for targeted assassination of High Value Targets, or as the opening barrage of a combined-arms attack. Considering total costs of employment (vehicle modifications, including explosives), it's cheaper than air support and more accurate than traditional tube artillery.


War is not actually a contest to see who is strongest. If it was, then the strongest nations would always fight to the finish and the weaker nations would always be defeated and utterly subjugated. Clausewitz was not the first person to notice that this didn't always happen, nor the first to conclude that war must be viewed as an extension of politics.

As such, dictatorship and imposition of rule through force has to be considered in light of other political options. Oppressive government does not generally start with an all out war to subdue the populace, using strategic weapons like missiles and bombers. Insurrections are managed with lighter arms not because totally destroying the enemy is not a military option but rather because it is not consonant with the relevant political goals.

The right to bear arms isn't about what you do for all out war -- that's when you move from citizen soldiers to building armies -- it's about trimming the distribution at the lower end and improving the odds of the citizenry being able to make it up the food chain in a reasonable amount of time. (Knowing what guns are actually called is a surprising advantage there.) Even Hitler started small, and disarmed the citizenry early.


someone should let the taliban know


To clarify, are those insurgents buying rifles at shops, or are they supplied with military-grade missiles by friendly countries?


Not sure how well the comparison works. Decades of shifting conflicts in several regions opposite the globe and against different "enemies" backed by opposing foreign nations, vs quelling localized rebellions at home where the areas are already saturated with police forces.


So we are just going to sit here and act like the US Civil War didn't happen?


The insurgencies would be easy to deal with if we didn't care much about collateral damage. Similar to how a well armed confederacy faired against the Union army under Grant and Sherman's "total war."


Tell that to Syria.


>>The argument is not that a rebellious citizenry will necessarily win a war, it's that it will draw out a bloody civil war so long and so expensive as to be a form of mutually assured destruction, the risk of which acts as a check in and of itself.

This assumption did not work out for the Confederacy in the Civil War. What makes you think it would work today?


The Confederate generals surrendered to keep the country from endless guerilla warfare. This is why the Confederates weren't executed for treason, etc, because everyone wanted to end the fighting at that point.


The Confederate generals surrendered because they realized that, with Lee himself surrendering, they had zero chance of prevailing, and any continuation of hostilities would result in the North invading the Confederate states and shooting/hanging not just the generals themselves, but all the civilian leaders who supported them. It wasn't to "keep the country from endless guerilla warfare", but rather an act of simple self-preservation.

While there was a fair amount of war wariness among the public, continued resistance by the Confederacy was not something the North would have tolerated, especially since they clearly had the upper hand at that point.


Sherman burning everything had a lot to do with making guerrilla warfare undesirable in the south (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman%27s_March_to_the_Sea). It isn't something that we would dare try in the Middle East, at least with the hearts and minds doctrine. (destroying your enemy is easy, doing so without destroying everyone else is another matter)


And then all you get is a whole bunch of mutually hostile regional militias sitting on piles of rubble shooting at each other. This is not a recipe for a stable state of any kind, and certainly not a democratic one. Guns and democracy simply don't mix. Democracy is about giving an equal voice to every citizen, while firearms are a force multiplier. They make the strong stronger and the weak comparatively weaker.


> This is not a recipe for a stable state of any kind

It is not meant to be used in a stable state. It’s a Hobbesian point of last resort, to be used when democracy has failed and autocracy/tyranny is in effect. It’s a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency, so to speak.


And it would simply beget more tyranny.

2a is for people who want to larp soldiers -- pretending its a useful addition to a republic is asinine.


Has it ever actually worked?



The American Revolution wasn't a citizen uprising, it was a local-government uprising it did rely on citizen militias against professional soldiers, but those citizen militias were the regular security forces of the local governments, which also the central government relied on for local security in routine cases, not counterbalances to them. That's the model the second amendment attempted to preserve, but even with the RKBA alive that model was progressively abandoned and it's last significant remnants were retired decades ago.

And even with that, the American Revolution relied on backing from one of the top two European powers at the time to succeed.


The national guard, the modern militia, can still be called out by state governors. Under the law they are controlled by the federal government, but in a dictatorship and civil war situation that might not mean much (just as how in the American civil war many members of the military resigned and fought for the southern rebels)

It’s likely any successful revolution or insurgency would have outside backing.

Vietnam was backed by the USSR, the taliban receives support from Pakistan, the insurgency in Iraq was supported by Iran, and so on.

Just like we ourselves destabilized Syria and Libya by supporting insurgencies there.

As demonstrated by the 2016 elections, there are other countries out there even now who are eager to interfere with the US.

In a theoretical future US dictatorship, perhaps support for an insurgency might come over the border from Canada and Mexico. We are dealing with a hypothetical situation far from what today’s international and national politics look like, of course.


We can't defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan... and that's just the size of Texas. The rocky mountains cover more area than AF; our borders are more porous (the Canadian border is the longest in the world); and our citizens have the most firearms in the world - total or per person (far more than AF or IQ). The US military cant stop insurgents from moving across the border with Pakistan, but they would be able to stop them on a border 4x longer? They can't stop drugs from south america (at the mexican border, or through the gulf of mexico), but they would if it were money or weapons?

I've posted this here before: The US military has an urban warfare document that states the number of troops required to secure N population. It's based on their experience and the experience of others in past wars in holding urban terrain. If you add up all of the military, police, national guard, fbi, etc... you aren't even close to the number the US military says are required to secure the US. Even if they hired millions of people to do so, they would still leave large swaths of the US unsecured (like the rocky mountains) where insurgents could operate.

I don't know why when this is brought up people imagine citizens would stand face to face with the US military. Like they would be so dumb as to stick their face in front of a gun and ask they be shot.

The US military says they can't secure the US from an insurgency. If you think otherwise, I would seriously like to hear what you base that on.


That's true. USSR had a similar document that was only declassified after the fall.

Even if Union's military was to use multimegaton nukes on rebelling cities, and red army kept 100% loyalty, the military would've still lost due to logistical exhaustion.

Armed forces rely on much more reliable supply train to function effectively than any kind of insurgent force. Armor and air force is useless unless fueled, oiled, armed and well maintained.


> We can't defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan

With supply lines halfway across the globe, and a military most of whose personnel don't speak the language, don't know the country, don't know the culture, etc. And, in most of time we've notionally been trying, only a fairly small deployment compared to our total military force.


But in the case of a civil war the supply lines themselves are under threat at all times. It's even worse than that, because military action itself will likely harm their own supply lines, because it's the populace that creates those supplies. If you're fighting against the populace, then you're not getting supplies from them.


> The US military has an urban warfare document that states the number of troops required to secure N population

Are you expecting the whole US to join this insurgency/rebellion/civil war? Most of the gun owners today already support Trump - a man who idolizes authoritarianism.

Instead of a scenario where the entirety of the U.S. police force quells a rebellion made up of 100% of the gun owning populace, it would be more likely that the dictator gets the gun owning populace on his/her side (not far from today's situation!) as reward for supporting the authoritarianism policies under the guise of democracy.


The 'whole US'? No, of course not. If an entire city was against the dictator, then they could do what al-Assad did in Syria: gas the entire city. The problem with an insurgency is that most of the population is either for you or at least pretends to be... so it's impossible to find those working against you.. and that support could be active (by fighting themselves) or passive by refusing to report insurgent activity, for example.

IIRC, the minimum force is 1 soldier per 50 citizens. That's enough for the military to be so prevalent in an area that it would be impossible for insurgents to operate. For the US that would be 6 million soldiers (+ soldiers for the unpopulated areas). Those numbers usually don't include civilian police forces, but even if you did include them, the US military would be millions of people short.

But yes, the insurgency needs support from the people. Not a majority, but a network and general support must exist in order for it to survive.


Just as a note India has 1:10 in Kashmir and still isn't making too much headway in the ideas battle.


No reason an insurgency couldn't coexist with a dictatorship. I just don't believe this kind of embedded insurgency could reach levels of organization great enough to overthrow the dictatorship.

Certainly an insurgent in a dictatorship has not won back his liberty. Therefore an armed populace, in my mind, does not prevent a dictatorship.


> do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces?

Yes, absolutely. If it's a true revolt.

The reason for this is because if the rebels have support of the population then they can get intelligence and material support from said population. They will be able to walk circles around military bureaucracy.

Were as the USA Military is dependent on the USA population for economic support. No economic support means no military sustainability. Sure they have stockpiles of weapons and whatnot, but there is more that is need to run a successful campaign against domestic guerrillas then just stockpiles of weapons.

The reality is that in order to overthrow the Federal government all the American people have to do is just choose to stop paying their taxes and refusing to do business with the Federal government. The Federal government would be dead within months.

Firearms are redundant. What they are useful for, however, is to prevent politicians from getting bad ideas... like using the military against their own population.


> if the rebels have support of the population

That's a big if. How many Arab Spring revolutions crumbled under this assumption?

Besides, look at today's political climate - the majority of gun owners are backing the man who is the most authoritarian. You don't have to be worried about a gun owning populace if they're "voting" for you already.


The wars in Iraq, Vietnam, and Afghanistan would like to have a word with you. Furthermore, there are about 393 million firearms in the USA, and that's just a minimum as you can suspect that many do not report their firearms. Considering that plus the fact that about 43% of American households own at least one firearm, this means that in the event of a rebellion against a dictator, very quickly 100% of households are armed. Modern weapons such as nukes, fighter jets, tanks, etc, are effective at completely obliterating an opponent, if they were deployed against American citizens, there would be no country left to rule over.


Yes.

A) Infrastructure. a huge portion of the US military might is not deployed in the US.

B) Bombings and collateral damage. The military may not give a fuck about the infrastructure of another country but bombing US cities is damaging their own infrastructure. Litterally cutting of their nose to spite their face.

C) Getting soldiers to shoot at other humans is hard. Getting them to shoot at other Americans is even harder.

D) We sure wiped the floor with the Koreans and Vietnamese without the first 3 points right? How hard could a country an order of magnitude larger, with much better armed citizenry be?


Agree on all points. To be fair though, Vietnam was a political defeat, not a military one. They killed 10 vietnamese for every american soldier.


Dictating over a country of armed resistance is not very valuable. I also think you underestimate the power of sheer numbers and guerilla warfare. The ones fighting would be the friends and family of the armed forces.


People have this vision of a civil war, some all-out armed conflict with winner-take-all. Looking at any country with a history of armed rebels, you see a long-term political standoff that occasionally runs hot. Ruby Ridge and Waco are small scale examples in the US. On a larger scale these types of movements actually can accomplish quite a bit. I'm not condoning it by any means, I think it's completely nuts, but I don't think it's so far fetched. If you get enough people with enough political will they can accomplish a lot, armed or not.


Waco and the public response to the government acting that way is why Bundy Ranch turned out the way it did. There was an overwhelming majority of people who didn't think the governments use of force at Waco was ok (pictures of burned to death kids will do that) and the government changed the way it operates to reflect that which resulted in a more "wait them out" approach. Incremental feedback loops like that are what prevent civil war in the long term.


> if the US President went in to full dictator mode and had the support of the military, do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces?

You don't really need militias. If a majority of the people oppose the dictator and the military man are from these families then your coup is going to fail. That's why dictatorships with strong oppositions try to lure a portion of their population against another portion or hire an army from another country.

In a nutshell, the current US army is not going to attack their fellow citizens anytime soon for the eyes of a dictator.


> You don't really need militias. If a majority of the people oppose the dictator and the military man are from these families then your coup is going to fail.

That's the real (failed) purpose of the second amendment, to prevent the use of a professional armed force for internal and/or external security, with it's invariable separate subculture, so that the views of the masses of the people and those of the armed forces would not be distinct.


You need ground troops to conquer and occupy any country, especially cities. Tanks or jets won’t help you. If civilians are armed with assault rifles, good luck.


This has been debated many times. Even the DoD strategic planning has concluded that if a certain % of the population would take up arms, the army would lose an insurgency war (especially if the opposing side has the support of the people).

Also have to factor in the massive defections of trained soldiers and officers from the military. The service members I know are not loyal to a person or group, they are loyal to the idea of the republic.


It depends on their arsenal and their strategies. Guerilla tactics have proven to be difficult for even modern militaries. The US would have a high probability of defeating it's citizens in a conflict, but it wouldn't exactly be a walk in the park. They'd still be risking dead soldiers, disrupted supply chains, and money just to finance the thing. If citizens posed a credible threat, it might not be worth the time of a gradually corrupting government that otherwise wanted to cross the line. The point of having armed citizens and militias is not necessarily to win but to provide a credit threat that forces an issue to be a cost-benefit analysis.

If memory serves me, the Russians gave up against the Mujihadeen forces(who had help from the US; the Soviet Union was also going broke). The US came back with it's tail between it's legs after fighting Vietnam guerillas and farmers. Military might isn't everything.

Practically speaking, I don't think today's Americans are equipped to provide a credit threat against a dictator and may never will.


> Practically speaking, I don't think today's Americans are equipped to provide a credit threat against a dictator and may never will.

I think they do- but we are so far removed from people actually caring about providing a credible threat as of now. Once people lose their access to basic amenities though, everything changes. And the type of people that do see the government as a threat now, already have organized militias, rudimentary training, military connections, and stockpile weapons and food. The right to organize into a militia is a constitutional right, and extremist elements have certainly been taking advantage of that.

And logistically speaking, we have very porous borders and inevitably foreign entities that would seek to assist an insurgency. The American Revolutionaries had the support of the French, and the Southern confederacy had the support of the British.


The US Armed Forces is made up of people, many of which would not support a self-appointed dictator attacking their own people.


The rise of killer death robots like Boston Dynamics definitely changes this dynamic. A handful of people in charge of the robots could order them to murder whomever with little oversight or room for ethical qualms on the part of the "soldiers".


It’s not a question of whether the robots could attack and kill people, it’s a question of whether they could defend the dictator’s interests. In a protracted guerrilla war against survivalist Americans with machine guns and large stashes of preserved food, not to mention access to tons of technology? I doubt it.

It’s not very difficult to attach a hand grenade (or even a pipe bomb) to a quadcopter drone and use it to attack a military checkpoint or a politician’s entourage. It’s simply much harder to defend than it is to attack nowadays, and centralized power is offset by scattered, decentralized resistance.

Finally, you might be able to convince a unit based in one state to attack another, but you’re unlikely to have the loyalty of all generals in a civil war.


This is actually something I've thought a good bit about. As robots become more militaristic, an armed populace becomes less of a threat to their government. There's a good sci-fi story in there somewhere.


I disagree. I think robots will actually decentralize power. The key to all of this is software which, as we’ve seen, is effectively impossible to lock up. So I think what you’ll see is the proliferation of cheap, effective drones armed with explosives that are extremely difficult to defend against.

We’re seeing this play out in the Middle East, most recently with a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production.


I definitely support civilian ownership of self-defense robots. But for them to be affordable (or maybe even possible), there needs to be substantial production of non-defense humanoid robots like robot maids to build up the supply chain. Even then humanoid robots have a lot more moving parts so they'll never be as cheap as today's civilian drones.


It's not so much the murder-bots, as it is the murder-bots in combination with the farming-bots, builder-bots, and general servant-bots.

If the rich and powerful consolidate autonomous labor under their control, this removes the self-interest of keeping people around, and would allow them to unleash whatever level of violence is needed, all the way up to genocide.


> do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces?

No, clearly not. Iraq and Afghanistan are proof of that.

The argument that the US military could so easily wipe the floor with a domestic insurgent militia that Second Amendment is obsolete hasn't been credible for 20 years. Widespread gun ownership does block several mechanisms of descent into dictatorship.


The US military requires a massive functioning economy to feed it goods, fuel, food, etc. If enough of the US were rebelling against the govt, the military would fold.

And it's likely hard to get troops to shoot their own countrymen.

As direct evidence, over the past few decades the US has been unable to stop a vastly smaller, vastly less armed resistance in various regions of the world.

Maybe you underestimate the power of a few armed people against a military. And in any case, if it came to people vs military (which I do not think is anywhere close to happening), armed people do much better than unarmed.


Firearms are faster a killing; it's why we use them. However a military entering a hostile area doesn't just stroll through casually even if they could know for a fact no guns are in the area. They still have to contend with fertilizer bombs, molotov cocktails, suicide trucks, bows and arrows, those 3 watt laser pointers, plus any other improvised weapon. If lasers weren't being banned from war for cruelty would maybe even be more effective at taking combatants off the battlefield than an AR-15.


It's likely that insurgents wouldn't be treated as irregulars or partisans under the Geneva Convention in any case, so the incentives to not just "blind away" with lasers would be more about personal reservations, retaliation, and PR.


It's much easier to mount a "resistance" with a few unregistered and unregulated guns in every household than not.

The US military is very good at wreaking havoc in places where you can just crusie-missle a square kilometer and not have any problems. That becomes difficult domestically: you can't just arbitrarily wipe your own cities off the map cause, you know, those cities are the ones who generate you income/GDP and have your actual population in them. There's no point in being a dictator of a wasteland.


Guns aren't for taking the military on head first. Guns are for assassinating your neighborhood cop and his entire family for supporting the dictator. The dictator requires lots of small time local support, which is much softer targets. Without it, the dictator can't dictate.


I would hope, since our military hasn't been conditioned from birth to believe they're serving a living god, that there would be heavy resistance from within the military itself if such a thing were attempted.


Yes, it would matter. If you don't want to raze your own cities an armed and hostile restiance even in the thousands of people is a massive thorn in your side. If the resistance reaches millions of people you basically don't have control at all. The country is just in a state of heavy war that point


>>>do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces

Who do think we've been fighting in Afghanistan for the last 18 years? Impoverished farmers with AKs and explosives.

>>>I truly do not get it.

Insurgents win by undermining the legitimacy of the government, and moving into the vacuums that are created. You don't do that be attempting to fight force-on-force against overwhelming conventional power. You do it by targeting the mayors, governors, police chiefs, district attorneys, tax collectors, etc.....basically all of the key leadership of low-level government, and law enforcement. Without the support or at least tolerance of the population, ANY army will have exploitable vulnerabilities in essentially hostile territory.


> do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces

The US has arguably won only one war in the last 70 years (being at war or at least armed conflict for most of those 70 years) with the largest most powerful military in the world.


Bluntly, yes. All those soldiers sleep, eat and live in a larger community. All those civil servants live in neighborhoods. Even if we accept that the entire military would just forget their sworn voe to uphold and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic, an armed civilian populace in revolt would be a nightmare scenario.


> And if s/he did not have the support of the Armed Forces, it would not be a very effective dictatorship and you would not even need guns for a rebellion.

Unless they don't have the support because of the rebellion's guns.

If anyone wearing a uniform is being shot by their neighbors, military support for the dictatorship is going to dry up quickly.


The US military is made up of Citizen Soldiers. Not clear that 'full dictator mode' would get anywhere.


The US military is made up of professional soldiers. Citizen soldiers are citizens first, and soldiers only when civic duty calls them up.


That's pretty much describing the vast bulk of US military. Citizen Soldiers.


In what way are they citizen soldiers? The statistics I can find suggest that active duty personnel majorly out reserve personnel.

Active duty personnel cannot be considered citizen soldiers because their service is not compulsory and they are full-time professionals, not merely civilians in service.

Reservists might be considered citizen soldiers, if you're a bit loose with the criteria that service must be a compulsory civic duty.


Army Active Duty 472,047

Army National Guard 345,153

Army Reserve 219,054

I believe a significant number of soldiers also only do 4 or 8 years and then return to civilian life, they aren’t a permanent military class like the Roman legions or whatever. As you mention a lot depends on what you consider a “citizen soldier” though.


Depends on the circumstances, probably. 100 million armed people is nothing to ignore. I would also assume that the enforcement would be via the police, not the military.


It would probably start with ICE. The gradual expansion of their powers to hold any person in prison until they can prove they're not an immigrant. The continued expansion of use of those against Latino communities. Voter sweeps: go to polling stations and arrest everyone who looks like they might be a Democrat. That kind of thing.


I assume quite a bit of the military would _join_ the citizenry, so yes, they probably would have a fairly good chance combined together. After all, the military in the US comes _from_ the citizenry and have family & friends among the "civilians" and don't feel all that detached.


I supposed that's why the Taliban has been gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces.


Large numbers of people find it ideologically necessary to take on faith that millions armed insurgents couldn't have large effects against the US military, contrary to every bit of evidence.


> do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces?

Turned out to be very effective in Vietnam and Afghanistan.


You seem to be saying because it wouldn't work - why would we allow it? It's your right to defend yourself. Whether it works or not has nothing to do with it.


Good reads and sums up the basic ideas: https://imgur.com/a/WnTzIxR


This is not a "sentiment", it's the very foundation the country's freedom was built on. When you admit that you don't understand it, then ask questions in a leading form that way, you're effectively arguing against the idea and forcing people to respond to it, or reinforcing others who have the fallacious beliefs against the second amendment based on lack of understanding on military and political strategy.

It's astonishing how many people these days have suddenly become armchair generals to push back against the very foundation of the freedom of the United States in the form of this tired argument.


And of course look what happens when your citizen militias actually SUPPORT the dictator. His opposition is swiftly crushed, it's not even a contest. Democracy falls almost overnight.


Exactly. The US won wars against its own citizens on a number of occasions; the Indian Wars, the short-lived Mormon conflict, the entire Civil War, and the city of Tulsa.


its a good question : could the dictator get the support of the military? Would the people in the military from the top down be willing to, say, decimate a resisting US city with artillery and bombs?


A few Vietnamese would like to have a word with you.


If every gun owner took their ownership as seriously as you, I’d say you had a point. Until then it’s a narrative that doesn’t map to the overwhelming bulk of reality.


Just tell that to the taliban.


Tell that to the Vietcong.


Yes and No. Would many small militias "win". Of course not. Would they cause nearly endless pain and chaos for decades? Most certainly. Some of them would also be members of the standing military and embedded in every level of government. Even the most malevolent narcissistic sociopath dictators don't want such a high maintenance and unstable situation.


What % of the military do you think will fight for the president? You only need enough weapons(dependent on that %) to create enough of a _mess_, to make it never worth pursuing.


> if the US President went in to full dictator mode and had the support of the military, do you really think a militia of armed citizens would be anything but gnats against the windshield of the United States Armed Forces?

Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. On paper, none of them stood a chance. How’s everything played out, in your opinion?


If HK'ers had a similar right to carry guns, do you honestly believe that they would be any better off right now?


They would be infinitely better off.

I don't understand this sentiment of "even with guns it's not gonna work so let's just roll over and take it".

If you personally don't think you'll be better off that's fine, but surely you get that if someone WANTS to fight tooth and nail in self-defense he should be given a chance to do so.


Really?! Like somehow having Hong Kong in rubble and surrounded by the largest army in the world is a better situation?

If Hong Kong had to rely on force of arms to win its independence, then it's defeat is nearly a foregone conclusion. They just do not have the capacity to stand up to the LARGEST ARMY IN THE WORLD.

Maybe, MAYBE an armed conflict in Hong Kong would sway the U.S. to intervene, but the U.S. is so averse to armed conflict right now and, frankly, today they have a very antagonistic view to foreigners. Not likely they'd be willing to take a bullet for the people of Hong Kong.

If the protestors in Hong Kong take up arms, it will only provide an excuse for Beijing to escalate.


>If Hong Kong had to rely on force of arms to win its independence, then it's defeat is nearly a foregone conclusion. They just do not have the capacity to stand up to the LARGEST ARMY IN THE WORLD.

If they'd rather die free than old that's their choice to make and they deserve to be able to make it.


I love this.

Hong Kongers don’t need the 2nd Amendment because “maybe” the United States will start WWIII over their protests, which they started after realizing that integration with China will actually happen.


You really can't protect yourself from a government in a stable State, because the State needs a monopoly on violence to exist. Even in America, the argument from 2nd amendment advocates, that guns help protect American citizens from their government is absolutely ludicrous.

There is no realistic way for Americans to stand up to the entire US State with violence. Not without some very wide spread belief in the failure of the state, believe that would probably be easier to get with non-violent protest (and it still wouldn't be easy).


Read up on the civil rights movement, specifically Robert F. Williams. You have a situation where blacks stood up to their local governments that refused to convict whites for lynching blacks, local governments that refused to protect blacks from white violence, where police actually sought to disarm blacks in the face of white lynch mobs with little to no federal oversight, and all the peaceful protests in the south, the diner sit ins, and the freedom riders were backed by armed black men and the threat of reciprocal violence. I think that counts as a successful instance of Americans standing up to not only their hostile government but their adversarial fellow Americans as well.


And what if violence had broken out? How do you think that would play out?

Some counter examples are the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or possibly even the Kent State Shootings (although there it was the State causing violence).

No matter where the violence comes from, the message tends to get lost from the reaction to the violence. Sure, even Gandhi talked about needing the capacity for violence for non-violence to work, but the moment things break down; the message may still get across or it may be totally drown out.


Violence did break out. When protesters weren't armed. And black and white civil rights supporters were beaten and lynched while local police watched. Lynchings were avoided when either Feds showed up with arms or local blacks organized with arms.

The difference between the civil rights movement and say, the ELF is that MLK jr, smartly pushed for nonviolence and all armed violence was encouraged only as a retaliatory measure.

I agree that the message can and most likely will get drowned out with escalation to violence, but if the courts fail you, if the state fails you, the only recourse you really have is a credible threat of violence. If that violence is in the form of disruption or rioting or if it's simply, non compliance backed by guns- without that threat, you will be ignored, or worse.


You raise a very good point. And something else -- during this time, the US started to pass gun control laws. They were understood primarily to apply only to black men at the time.

This is the heritage of gun control in America -- racism and hate written down and codified in law.


The NRA advocated for gun control to disarm the Black Panthers. Gun control has historically been used to disarm minorities much more often than for public safety.


The NRA actually helped Robert F. Williams, from my parent comment, establish a gun club and donated rifles and ammunition. So while they helped with establishing the Mulford Act, they also supported the early civil rights movement. Not to defend them, but organizations aren't necessarily single minded in their actions.


Thanks, I didn't know that. Will have to do some further reading tonight :-D


Charlton Hesston marched with MLK Jr. when it wasn't popular to do so. He was president of the NRA for a number of years recently.

There are people who have been trying to sell a bill of goods about the NRA and gun owners in general for a long time. It simply isn't accurate.


>There is no realistic way for Americans to stand up to the entire US State with violence.

Yup, particularly not as long as the same people vote to reduce access to secure communication methods.


It’s uncertain what the eventual outcome would be, but one thing is for sure, it would increase the threshold before the tanks rolled in.


I might be misreading what "increase the threshold" means, but it seems to me that if people were armed, the tanks were more likely to roll in quickly, not less.


I see it the opposite way, the tanks become a last resort. They have to use hard power rather than alternatives.


You’d think that an armed protest group would mean that the government reacts with _less_ force? Rather than simply deploying an appropriate amount of force to stop them? Because the simple fact is that the government will win in the game of “who has more guns and power”, just as it would in the USA, and there is no way a government would set a precedent that all you need to make it capitulate is wave a gun around.

I’m not saying that the outcome would be the protesters would not be successful, in saying that the government would roll in the tanks immediately and without hesitation.


> the simple fact is that the government will win in the game of “who has more guns and power”, just as it would in the USA

I do not actually agree with the premise that, in this modern day, governments can no longer be overthrown. Civil wars are not won on the basis of "who started with more guns?".


Most countries you’re thinking of as counterexamples don’t have an equivalent to Air Force One (= near-complete invulnerability for said dictator) or nuclear submarines with SLBMs (= near-complete invulnerability for said dictator’s hard power.) Nothing a militia does storming US land civil or military infrastructure would matter to a US dictator, any more than it would if a foreign military did so. The US military domestic defence system was designed under the assumption that this is exactly the type of attack a foreign military would try, in fact—convincing US citizens (and members of the US military!) to foment a coup, the way the US foments coups in other countries.

Basically, the US president is in the constant implicit position of being able to hold the entire US hostage from a flying doom fortress† like some kind of supervillain. The only people who can really stop a “crazy president” scenario are people either high up in the Secret Service or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would 1. Have the authorization to be in the president’s presence during DEFCON 1, and then 2. Have the personal trust/authority to tell the president’s bodyguards to buzz off for a minute.

† The “doom fortress” part applies more to the subs than to AF1, but if you treat the two as a unit, it works.


There have been inquests into what would happen in event of US civil war. Some projections see >40% of people immediately defecting from the government, many with high level clearances. At least in the case of the US the nation ceases to exist the moment it is in civil war.

But that is kind of besides the point. A lot of people are arguing "they may have overwhelming force, so roll over and give them what they want." No thanks?


I’m assuming your inquests are about a US civil war between a controlling minority and a resisting majority?

The more interesting scenario to consider, IMHO, is a civil war between a controlling but “not the US” majority, and a resisting minority. For example: what would happen if there were a modern Red Scare, but one with a basis in reality—i.e., if somehow >50% of the US (including our political leaders) were subverted by China, became believers not just in Communism but in the CCP’s propaganda about Communism necessitating political unification and erasure of separate cultural identity, and so the belief that the US should volunteer to be annexed+absorbed by China?

If the majority of the US believed that... what should the rest of us do, at that point, to stop this from happening? Is the correct answer just “the US is a democratic nation, so if the majority of the population wants the US to stop being a democracy, that’s the ‘democratic choice’, and if you believe in the ‘power of democracy’, you should support it”?


I'll see if I can find it. The formulation was, I think, like you described; the rural states were defending from a majority rule from more populous coastal states.

The US is not a democracy and you have just outlined why. Small autonomous regions were created to limit external influence and allow people to live their lives in peace. A lot of stuff now happens on the national level that was never meant to happen on the national level.


> The US is not a democracy

The United States is a democracy. Democracy does not mean only direct democracy. Representative democracy, democratic republics, and federalism are forms of government compatible with democracy.

https://reason.com/2018/01/17/the-united-states-is-both-a-re...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/07/us/usa-democracy.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_republic


I just figured that hundreds of years ago, everyone just agreed that democracy was a good thing, so let's define what we do as democracy. After some time the word's meaning matches what we do.

The first link implies that somewhat, but I would guess we need a historian to map the meaning over time.


"By Dawn's Early Light" is a movie with James Earl Jones as "Alice" the general aboard an EC-135 carrying out the "Looking Glass" mission (a 24/7 airborne command and control, now obsoleted) after a surprise attack. Jones' character decides to ram Air Force One to eliminate the hawkish Secretary of the Interior who has assumed the role of President - and thus resolve a deadlock so that the actual President (who has survived, badly wounded and unable to prove his identity to those aboard Air Force One) can countermand US forces and prevent a retaliatory strike which would inevitably cause World War III.

It's made for TV but I thought it did a surprisingly good job. I don't know whether you actually could chase and collide with the plane normally designated Air Force One in an EC-135, but certainly I'd bet on military pilots to give it their best shot if their commander explained the consequences otherwise.


Can an EC-135 escape the US’s own best air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles† being launched in a single mass-bombardment toward it with full penaids, by craft running the US’s best ECCM? Because, whatever they’re nominally flying, half the point of AF1 is aerial territory denial around the principal craft, so I’d assume they’re kitted out just for that task. Pretty hard to ram.

† Presumably, doctrine for a “Looking Glass” mission would have AF1 plan flight paths that bring them near still-executive-controlled surface missile batteries. Unsure if anything before a modern 5G craft could bring those batteries directly under its targeting control, though, rather than relying on the pilot making contact with living hands on the ground.


You probably could not, unless you set your EC-135 up way ahead of AF1 and took a crazy pursuit angle and timed the impact perfectly. The maximum speeds of the two planes are within 10mph of each other (at least, a base C-135 and a base 747. I'm sure there's some variance between those and an EC-135 and AF1 due to equipment loadouts and whatnot).


Hm, you don't need a crazy pursuit angle if you're way up ahead. Just use your time advantage to climb until you've exceeded AF1's altitude. Now, in a shallow dive, your speed will exceed AF1's.


Careful, you don't want to overspeed this old airframe. We're running a flutter risk here and loaded down with ECM gear. These struts might not hold.


> I do not actually agree with the premise that, in this modern day, governments can no longer be overthrown.

Of course not. But the Beijing government is not going to be overthrown from Hong Kong. Hong Kong is very small and very far away from Beijing.

And the whole situation, Hong Kongers protesting the removal of some of their 'special' rights isn't exactly winning sympathy among mainlanders.