A gun grabber on "preparing for political violence"


Chris Ladd has been arguing for a while now that the whole “guns vs. tyranny” thing is a deadly delusion that does nothing but reinforce white supremacy, and so on and so forth. But then he drops this whopper:

Ladd and I had an exchange on Twitter wherein he tries to tell me that he’s not making the case that it reads to me like he’s pretty clearly making.

Twitter’s threading model being what it is, it’s hard to follow the whole back-and-forth. But anyway, I certainly think it’s possible that he still would rather see guns disappear from American life, and that he hasn’t fully reckoned with the darker implications of his own arguments.

Or, there is also a lot of “to him who has an ear, let him hear” speech going on in this post, so it could be that an exchange on this topic that happened out of earshot would be different from the one we just had. I dunno.

Anyway, I wanted to put this out there to the group to chew on.


Participants in the gun debate tend to get slippery, and when the discussion reaches questions of civil conflict, they become greased pigs. Your best chance of nailing things down is a verbal discussion in an interview/Q&A format.


A couple of points about civil conflict - specifically, false assumptions made, without even being stated, in the American gun debate:

  1. We assume civil conflict is impossible or exceedingly unlikely in the U.S. because the large majority of people do not want it and are not prepared for it. BUT history shows that small groups of killers can foist civil conflict on the larger population.

  2. We assume that civil conflict will pit “the people” against “the government”, or one region against another. BUT recent history indicates that modern conflict is marbled, or even “granular”, pitting next-door neighbors against each other; layering petty personal disputes with political and ideological hatreds.

Any facile arguments about “the government” crushing armed resistance with modern weapons, or “guerillas” overwhelming a usurperous regime, should be pushed back hard with attention to these complexities.


Can you give some examples of the conflicts in recent history that you would describe as “marbled”?


Former Yugo; Syria; Spanish Civil.


I agree with all of this and have been wanting to write something along these lines when I get a minute. The common gun controller tic of sneering that a modern conflict would not play out like the Civil War, with guys in uniforms standing in a line and exchanging fire, is so lazy. Most of us are looking to the Baltics as a model, and not a century and a half old conflict.

My bottom line is this: if we have real unrest here in the US, I don’t presume to know where the threats will come from or what they will be wearing or what their ideologies will be, but with 300M guns laying around it will come from somewhere and I don’t plan to one of the weak that’s preyed on by whatever group is doing violence in my neighborhood.


There’s a lot of folk from that segment of the political left that use violence to mean any sort of serious confrontation, even stuff far from the actual fists-and-knives-and-guns level. I think that’s what Ladd is trying to motion around: the idea that being sufficiently indeferential to the political enemy will get results with minimal actual harm to yourself. He’s using the Bundies as examples of “stubborn pricks” rather than “well-armed tacticians”.

This is an incredibly bad analysis of recent history, both in terms of excluding events that don’t match his preconceptions (Ruby Ridge most obviously, but also something like a third of the cases libertarians bring up), and operating on caricatures of the events he does notice (the Bundy thing is more complicated, and some high-credit-rating white body still died in suspicious circumstances and it didn’t even make the news).

More generally, if you’re writing on political violence, I’d bring up the early Civil Rights Movement South. While it doesn’t quite project to the future perfectly, it does include a) bad guys who had the unofficial support of (and sometimes were) the local well-armed government, b) lots of documentation on why the bad guys couldn’t escalate, and c) armed self-defense by a well-liked minority. A more serious analysis has to get into the sorta stuff Daniel_Martin brings up, but there’s a lot to be mentioned even at the trial level.


BJ Campbell wrote an awesome piece on this subject as part of his Medium series on guns: https://medium.com/s/story/the-surprisingly-solid-mathematical-case-of-the-tin-foil-hat-gun-prepper-15fce7d10437