Would people in the US really try to fight the military/police with hunting rifles?

Kind of inspired by a thread on the merits (or lack thereof) regarding the separate storage of firearms and ammunition, I’m reminded of a constant theme I see from a subsection of legitimate gun owners in the US- namely, that they own their guns to Defend The US Constitution™.

I have zero problem with people owning firearms for self-defence/home defence, and I’d really prefer that this thread not get sidetracked into yet another “merits of Concealed Carry/Keeping a loaded handgun in the bedside drawer” thread.

What I do find a little… unsettling is the absolute conviction some people have that, should The US Constitution be “threatened” they will immediately take up arms a la Minutemen, and go off to fight the Evildoers.

This is all well and good if we’re talking about an invasion of the Continental US by the Communists or other Bad Guy Du Jour (although one can’t help but wonder if they’ve seen Red Dawn once too often…), which is working on the assumption that the US Armed Forces are still functioning and actively fighting the invaders. In effect, these guys would become partisans, and in that sort of situation, it can work- the Russians, the Yugoslavians, and even the Italians all made extensive use of Partisans at various points, to surprising effectiveness.

Of course, the reality is we’re not likely to see a full-scale invasion of the US anytime soon, and so a lot of this subsection of gun owners appear to have decided that the greatest threat to the US Constitution is their own government- and that’s the unsettling part, at least for me.

Now, I know that US politics are extraordinarily partisan (heh) and complicated- especially to non-US people, and it’s well known I’m no fan of the current Australian Government.

Anyway, the thing is this: Let’s take a hypothetical- the US takes the Australian route, and enacts strict gun laws. The US Supreme Court decides that the “The Right To Bear Arms” only confers the right to own hunting and sporting guns upon normal citizens.
People jump up and down about being made to hand in their semi-autos rifles, short barrel handguns, high capacity magazines, Desert Eagles, and so on- and at this point, the survivalist types are forced to either hand their AR-15s and so on in, bury them, or (according to them) start fighting the authorities, since the US Government has done Evil Things to the US Constitution.

The question (and the debate) really is, “If push came to shove, would all these die-hard Armed Constitutional Defenders actually use their guns to stop the authorities from enforcing the laws?”

Sure, there’ll always be one or two who will try and shoot it out- but really, if The Powers That Be decide that the general populace shouldn’t have so many guns, and the Supreme Court agrees with them, then I’d think your “average” law-abiding gun owner would probably comply (or at least bury the guns and deny ever owning them) until the situation sorted itself out.

I realise that the reality of bringing in such a law is considerably more difficult- maybe even impossible- on a US-wide level, but just put that to one side for a moment.

Would all these people- and they’re a minority of gun owners (the vast, vast majority of whom are law abiding, upstanding citizens)- really put their money where their mouth is (creating untold chaos in the process), or would they knuckle under when the SWAT team arrived, with considerably better equipment than they could ever hope to have?

Your thoughts, on the back of a postcard to the usual place…

Behind the hot water pipes
Third Washroom Along
Victoria Station
London, UK :smiley:

PVC pipe, end caps sealed, dessicant inside, ammo and guns together by caliber inside, bury deep on property with angle-iron scattered in the soil, deny ever owning them, if shown the documentation, claim they were sold outside the state before those sales had to be documented. Wait for the pendulum to swing back.

But I would use my weapons willingly to defend this country from the crazed Canadian hordes. Who knows what they are plotting up there…

Sure they would: see Waco and Oklahoma City. The problem is the judgement of people in determining when the constitution is being threatened. A change of a few thousand votes would have defended the constitition better than millions of people with guns could help to acheive.

Yeah, the original post is correct. These weapons would come out (supposedly) when the Constitution becomes actively shit on.

So…um…why don’t we care about the defecation of the First?

On an actually related note, I get the feeling that you don’t believe such things would happen (with having to actively protect the homeland). I agree with this. The situation that would have to occur to facilitate such a response (of an armed society) would have to be downright cataclysmic. Even then, weapons would become tools of hate. I point to “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler.

The first few cops of whatever variety that actually try to confiscate private arms in the scenario you describe are highly likely to die. The OP seems to assume fairly isolated gun owners, like maybe one per block or so. That ain’t the case in parts of this country. I live the South. Virtually everyone I know, including the little old ladies at the bridge club, own at least one gun. Many people own several. A law like this ain’t gonna pass in secret, so there will be some lead time to prepare. Even a well equiped SWAT team can be wiped out by a neighborhood taking pot shots. I really don’t see very many people politely bringing their weapons to the local armory. If the Government is serious about confiscation, they’re going to have to attempt it house by house. It could be done, but not without much bloodshed.


How many cops died in New Orleans when they confiscated
legally owned guns from law abiding citizens? I know of no info that says the answer is anything but zero. Law abiding citenzens tend to obey the law even when it’s tyrannical. That’s the great downfall of gun control laws: they only affect those who obey the law in the first place.

Probably not answer your question, but for me when I get my own house and start my family, I’m going to have weapons. Not for protection against the government, but against my neighbors.

If ever there’s a disaster, be it earthquake, flood, riot, alien space bats, and law enforcement’s not able to keep the area safe, it’ll be up to me to protect my family.

Not really; most guns used by criminals are stolen from law abiding citizens. If the law followers didn’t have guns, the law breakers would have a far harder time getting them.

As far as the OP goes, I think most gun owners would grumble and hand them over ( and likely vote for the other party afterwards ). The gun fanatics OTOH would fight to the death, being fanatics. They would die, however, Second Amendment fantasies notwithstanding.

That article described an isolated and temporary decision in one city that was largely empty and recently ravished by a hurricane. I am not sure the peaceful results would mirror a federal law that order confiscation of all guns in the US. I think there would be many pockets of resistance. I agree with **Oakminster ** that it would become especially tough in the south and other rural locations.


Could you please provide a cite for this statement?


The OP wasn’t concerned with a scenario involving the confiscation of ALL guns- just the introduction of Australian-style laws requiring licensing and registration, and the banning of semi-auto longarms, high capacity magazines, and snub-nose/short barrel handguns- on a US-wide level.

That should be enough to set the “Constitutional Defence” brigade running to their bunkers with their AR-15s, but the debate is, would most of these people actually try and fight the police when they came to get them for not handing their guns in?

Your scenario is allowing people to retain hunting rifles, shotguns and standard pistols. I do not believe more than a handful of Americans would violently resist this law. Most would either comply or hide their newly illicit weapons.


Hmmmm. After googling, I find cites that support my statement and contradict my statement. Which would you prefer ?

You could always provide some links from both sides and let us make an informed opinion. I would be surprised if what you stated was true, but I would not be too shocked. It is just that I have always assumed most illegal weapons were acquired through the grey and black markets.


Yeah, just ask the Branch Davidians.

You are living in a fantasy world. If congress passed a law banning guns, people are not by and large going to shoot it out with the cops because most people would prefer to not be branded criminals. Especially when it’s easier to hide your guns and declare them stolen. It’s one thing to take pot shots at a foreign invader, it’s quite another thing to fight the cops and Federal government.

And if the government comes to take your guns, they’re going to come in force. Helicopters, Humvees, sharpshooters, SWAT guys in body armor showing up at the crack of dawn while you’re making your morning coffee. Most people also have an inclination not to get killed when confronted by an overwhelming force.

The insurgency in Iraq seems to be doing okay, even with all those soldiers in body armor and the helicopters and that other stuff; I’d figure Americans are taking notes.

Well, if you hadn’t put so much lead-in to your “debate” idea a lot of what I’m getting ready to post wouldn’t be necessary. You could have just simply offered up the fairly psychological/sociological question of whether or not people would actually fight against the government if they felt the government was acting in a manner they were unhappy with. The simple answer to that is, “some people actually would, and history shows they would–a large number would not.”

However, in the long lead-in to your post I feel that a few too many assumptions and what I consider to be “incorrect” things were said that I think they have to be addressed.

I’m not really sure what you mean here. The people who founded this country did just that, they took up their arms and fought for what they believed was right. The only difference between a revolutionary hero and a traitorous rebel is victory/defeat on the battlefield (respectively.) And the people who founded our country, to a large degree, realized that. So there is actually some level of respect for the people who are willing to fight the Government if the Government ever crosses the line (even if it does so “legally.”) Keep in mind, there was nothing legal about what the founding fathers did to create this country. The British had every right to levy their taxes and place their troops wherever they saw fit. The law was very clearly in their favor, we were the ones acting illegally. However we were operating under the idea that sometimes whether or not something is legal is irrelevant because some things are wrong, whether they are legal or not, and good people will stand up against them.

So I don’t find it unsettling at all that people are willing to fight for certain ideals, no matter what a few scraps of paper might say. I agree that people who are willing to start shooting at FBI agents over a minor disagreement with political policy are unsettling, however I wouldn’t refer to people like that as a “subsection” of anything, those are more aptly referred to as the “lunatic fringe” and I genuinely doubt you have any experience with them directly in the United States.

The greatest threat to the US Constitution (or more aptly, the ideals that make this country what it is–the constitution is designed to be changed, and a few quick amendments could make it as foul a government blueprint as anything the Nazis cooked up) is our own government. Almost no one would say otherwise, who really knows anything about the history of our country and our constitution.

On one final note to go back to the beginning of your post,

There’s no reason to take that literally. One could easily make the point that you own guns because, by actively exercising the right to own and possess firearms you keep that right alive, and defend that right (and the amendment in which it is arguably enshrined.) Not that you are “literally” keeping your guns to kill people who threaten the constitution.

A good example would be the freedom of speech. I think people who exercise it regularly, are indeed “defending” the constitution, because I believe any right not often exercised or not widely used is much more susceptible to being taken away by governments.

Ah, but a number of people that I’ve spoken to on various gun-related internet forums DO take the “Defending the Constitution” thing literally- ie, shooting it out with ATF/FBI agents- and I’ve come across it often enough to wonder if there really are people who would go to those lengths in a scenario like the one I described in my OP.

There’s at least one military surplus firearms board that I’m not especially welcome on because my views are too “Left-Wing”- apparently daring to suggest that there are benefits to having gun licences makes me some kind of gun-hating liberal communist :rolleyes: in their eyes.

Besides, if I’d just posted an OP of “Hey, if the US enacted strict gun laws, would all those loonies you hear about in the news start shooting the Feds?”, that would look more like a Drive-By (no pun intended) than a serious OP…

I have no idea whether they would or not. However, there is historical precedence.

“…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…” The Declaration of Independence, 1776


The point I’m trying to make is that it’s tantamount to suicide to TRY and fight The Government with force of arms these days, regardless of what the US Declaration of Independence says on the subject.

Back in 1776, the pinnacle of Military Technology (at least on land) was a Kentucky Rifle (most muskets, such as the Brown Bess, were smoothbored), grenades, and muzzle-loading cannon. (The Puckle Gun doesn’t count- it was never used militarily)

You didn’t have body armour (as we know it), tanks, machine-guns, night vision gear, tear-gas, radios, satellites, or any of the other stuff that makes trying to take on the ATF with an AR-15 and a brace of Glock 17s an obviously bad idea… hence the OP.