Liberals Will Kill You

Any discussion with someone more than a standard deviation to the right of center is going to go nowhere. The nowhere shoals that such conversations like to splinter upon often involve the assertion that conservatives are better armed that liberals, that they have more guns.

Ignoring the implicit threat in that statement and what it says about conservatives' ability to win an argument on it's merits, I have to concede that it's probably a valid assertion. I don't know if there's any hard data on the subject, but I'll bet that a majority of gun owners are right leaning and, in a related but slightly different statistic, most guns are owned by right leaning people. At first glance, I'll concede that, were the political polarization of America to turn violent, as many wingnuts insinuate that it will, the conservatives are better equipped for such a conflict.

Better equipped or no, they'd still loose.

I'm going to take a minute to explain why using some gross generalizations.

It's true, in the aggregate, liberals tend to be much less enthusiastic about firearms than their conservative counterparts. However, there is a large segment, maybe 30%, that are perfectly comfortable with guns. Some of them, like my friend Joker, were raised in gun culture and came to hold liberal beliefs in adulthood. Others, like me, made an active decision as an adult to become knowledgeable and competent shooters. The point is, while most liberals have probably never picked up a gun, there are millions of us who have and who know to use them with great proficiency.

More important than the pure numbers, those liberals that possess firearms are probably better shots than conservatives. The minority of progressives that own guns value learning for its own sake. We treat shooting as a skill to be developed through study, practice and careful attention to detail and not as a way to get our rocks off. If you ever find yourself at a large commercial gun range, a majority of the lanes will be filled by guys with a half dozen guns, intent on sending lots of lead down range or impressing their friends with their supposed combat skills, people quick-firing until their clips are empty and then grinning and laughing over it, one handers and folks shooting high power weapons just because they like the boom. I call this the "Yee-haw" factor, and it's much higher among conservatives than among centrists or progressives.

There will probably be one other person there, the person who brought a single, mid-caliber pistol or sensible rifle, the disciplined individual who calmly and slowly fires off round after well-aimed round. This person is level headed with a gun and they did not come to the range for fun, they came to learn. For this person a gun is a tool and shooting a challenge. While they probably don't carry a pistol on a day to day basis, their pattern is tight, their aim lethal, their Yee-haw facto close to zero. They probably don't make much conversation with their fellow shooters and they probably didn't vote for McCain.

I don't know when the expression "peace-niks" went out of style but I miss it because it speaks to a core part of the progressive philosophy. Liberals don't value conflict for conflict's sake and we chagrin martial prowess as a personal trait. Thus, we are less likely to have bulging muscle, blazing guns, save the princess, win the medal, Rambo-style homoerotic combat fantasies. We have less desire to rack up a body count, less need to be a hero in the bad way. Thus we'll have a tactical advantage on account of not being idiots.

Also on the subject of liberals' tactical abilities, one stereotype holds true. Generally speaking, liberals are better educated that conservatives. A majority of college graduates are politically left of center. Most of the officers will be with us and not with the wingnuts, at least most people who are officer material. While basic competence with a firearm can be taught in fairly short order, command skills and tactical acumen take a lot more time to internalize. Well armed, though the conservatives might be, a functionally leaderless force isn't much good in a real fight.

Armed conflicts aren't won by bullets alone. It takes money, supplies, political cover and often international pressure to mount a resistance any more significant than a cult-compound standoff. More often than not, that support comes from another country who's interests are allied with the goals of the instigating movement. If Bushite/John Birch/Teabaggger types rise up in insurrection, no other nation will come to their aid. Their leaders have spent most of the last nine years, if not the last three decades, proving to the rest of the world that a conservative American government cannot be trusted. Republicans have consistently held the entire rest of the world in contempt. Between the bombing, the saber-rattling, the sanctions, the murderous rhetoric, the opposition to immigration, the refusal to honor treaties and the constant stonewalling of the international community, who in the world would raise a finger to help them?

I hesitate to bring up this next point at the risk of sounding racist but it's the one that'll scare the wingers more than any other. You know all those supposed pistol waving gang-bangers, all those young, lawless, disaffected Black men that, until 9/11, the conservatives used as civil bogeymen to scare god-fearin' White folk into supporting all sorts of racist public policies and draconian police practices? None of them are Republicans, not a single one. Though there are a lot fewer of them than any tough-on-crime gubernatorial candidate would ever admit, they do exist and they're all a lot more likely to have been in a gun fight than any second amendment blow hard. America's real experts on urban warfare, yeah, they're on our side.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone that, discounting minor upheavals like the Whiskey Rebellion and the Battle of Blair Mountain, there have only been two major armed insurrections in the history of this nation, one began in 1776 and the other in 1861. Both fights were won by the forces of progressivism. While I grant that this is of little tactical relevance, there's a major psychological advantage in knowing that conservatives have never won a fight that mattered.

Liberals are a strange breed. By this I don't mean the things conservatives wish I meant, that we approve of homosexuality, tolerate plurality of faith and believe a number of counter-intuitive things about the nature of human industry. I mean that there is a rarely acknowledged disconnect in our collective thinking. We value consensus. We value inclusion. We value peace and civility to the exclusion of almost all else. We take pride in understanding the subtleties, the shades of gray in so many situations. With armed conflict, though, we see no gray whatsoever. A cause is worth taking life over or it is not, with no middle ground. We will go far out of our way to avoid a fight but make no mistake, when forced to meet violence with violence, we are exceptionally good at it.

We would really prefer that conservative America play by the rules, respect America's best ideals and do their political business in good faith. It is becoming increasingly apparent, by their own rhetoric and actions, that they will not. They boast that they are better armed and they are correct about that. We, though, are better trained, smarter; we have all the tactical advantages and we've never lost a fight of significance.

So, to all the teabaggers, all the xian dominionists, all the birthers and all the NRA zealots that insist that, if your legal usurping of government fails, you'll get your way at gunpoint, bring it. I dare you.

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Beekeepers Apprentice said...

I would be in that 30%. Guns don't scare me in the slightest - I can admire a fine shotgun or rifle as well as any rightwing self-proclaimed "hero". I'm a pretty good shot with a .38, too. Guns don't bother me - it's the asshole on the other end of the trigger who I don't trust to be able to hit the side of the proverbial barn from 10 feet.

You said: If Bushite/John Birch/Teabaggger types rise up in insurrection, no other nation will come to their aid

It would basically be the Civil War all over again, but probably on a much smaller scale - we have more guns, but we're lazier people, overall. No other country would touch that with a 10 foot pole. Guess which side the Bircher/baggers would be on?

Tom Harper said...

Yeah! Bring it on!

In addition to the points you made, liberals/progressives have more ingenuity, more intelligence in a spur-of-the-moment situation. (That's a generalization of course.)

The TV show Burn Notice is full of examples like that. There's nothing political about that program, but one of their main themes is when the hero is outnumbered and surrounded by armed thugs. He always outsmarts them. The voiceovers are the best part of the show: "if you have a chapstick and a pack of matches in your pocket, you can make an explosive device...Since your attackers are armed and you're not, they'll have their guard down..."

I know it's just a TV show, but that's the kind of intelligence and improvisation that would come out again and again if a bunch of rightwing lynch mobs tried to settle things at gunpoint.

The movie Straw Dogs (1970) was another example of this. This total nerd (Dustin Hoffman) goes way over the top to defend his home against a would-be home invasion by a bunch of armed goons.

Jolly Roger said...

I'm from the hills, and I grew up around loaded guns. I've shot, and eaten, many different cute woodland and meadow animals. And, unlike a lot of my yellow-magnet "patriot" acquaintances, I served, where I mastered the peep sight.

There are many, many more of me than the wingers would like to think. I do not fear them, or all their bluster, in the least. I saw in the last decade how many of them are actually willing to go toe-to-toe with an armed foe.

waldo said...

Gun sickness has perverted the US and the world looks on in disgust.