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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Liberal Are Opposed to Commoners Owning Guns

     In his book Tragedy and Hope, Carroll Quigley noted the impact of common, easily used weapons to the rise of democratic institutions:
In 1830 democracy was growing rapidly in Europe and in America. At that time the development of weapons had reached a point where governments could not get weapons which were much more effective than those which private individuals could get. Moreover, private individuals could obtain good weapons because they had a high enough standard of living to afford it (as a result of the Agricultural Revolution) and such weapons were cheap (as a result of the Industrial Revolution). ...
... When weapons are cheap to get and so easy to use that almost anyone can use them after a short period of training, armies are generally made up of large masses of amateur soldiers. Such weapons we call "amateur weapons," and such armies we might call "mass armies of citizen-soldiers." The Age of Pericles in Classical Greece and the nineteenth century in Western Civilization were periods of amateur weapons and citizen-soldiers. But the nineteenth century was preceded (as was the Age of Pericles also) by a period in which weapons were expensive and required long training in their use. Such weapons we call "specialist" weapons. Periods of specialist weapons are generally periods of small armies of professional soldiers (usually mercenaries). In a period of specialist weapons the minority who have such weapons can usually force the majority who lack them to obey; thus a period of specialist weapons tends to give rise to a period of minority rule and authoritarian government. But a period of amateur weapons is a period in which all men are roughly equal in military power, a majority can compel a minority to yield, and majority rule or even democratic government tends to rise.  ... But after 1800, guns became cheaper to obtain and easier to use. By 1840 a Colt revolver sold for $27 and a Springfield musket for not much more, and these were about as good weapons as anyone could get at that time. Thus, mass armies of citizens, equipped with these cheap and easily used weapons, began to replace armies of professional soldiers, beginning about 1800 in Europe and even earlier in America. At the same time, democratic government began to replace authoritarian governments (but chiefly in those areas where the cheap new weapons were available and local standards of living were high enough to allow people to obtain them).  
... In the twentieth century the military situation was drastically changed in two ways. ... [B]eginning with the first use of tanks, gas, high-explosive shells, and tactical bombing from the air in 1915-1918, and continuing with all the innovations in weapons leading up to the first atomic bomb in 1945, specialist weapons became superior to amateur weapons. This had a double result which was still working itself out at mid-century: the drafted army of citizen-soldiers began to be replaced by a smaller army of professional specialist soldiers, and authoritarian government began to replace democratic government.
 (Underline added).

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