In 1787 the United States Constitution was officially ratified. For the sake of an interesting blog, let’s assume that all the states agreed to ban the ownership of firearms by civilians. Instead numerous “Militia Stations” were established throughout the states where firearms were held in a secure armory available for times of war.
The presumption being that the state of war would come about because of invasion by a foreign foe or our troops invading a foreign foe themselves. Many constitutional ventriloquist’s claim that this sacred document, in its Bill of Rights, permits the keeping and bearing of arms only by official state militias, as opposed to individual citizens.
Now the notion of the citizens, the pioneers, the hunters & trappers and people just living in rural settings not having firearms is not only hard to imagine, it is also an impossibility.
It leads me to thinking that the possession of firearms is seen in two very different ways, one being the essential need of firearms for very practical reasons applicable earlier in the history of our country and the possession of firearms in the modern era where there is little or no risk of being mauled by a bear nor much need to hunt elk for food.
But rather than digress into that, let’s stick with the original premise. In this scenario, there would be a ready source of presumably modern weapons housed in the numerous militia stations located throughout the states, including the southern states.
In truth, there were many United States military installations in the South. There were many seaport forts such as Fort Sumter and there were forts in the interior. Just as was the case in the Civil War, the local officials would seize these resources at the onset of the war.
The same would be the case with militia stations. As the real war began, we saw the first strike being made against Fort Sumter at Charleston. In my scenario, added to the attack on Sumter would be numerous local assaults against the militia stations. Some would resist mightily and in other cases the guards would quietly disappear at night.
So I guess this premise boils down to the question, how good were the weapons owned by the citizens in the South and to what extent were those weapons used in the war? We do know that early in the war southern boys showed up to muster with everything from bird guns to squirrel guns and many Revolutionary war era converted Flintlock’s. Smooth bore one and all.
The Confederate government and its military leadership worked very hard to get better weapons into the hands of the troops and while the South would never have large quantities of the best and latest weapons, the troops were armed with weaponry that was generally a fair match to that which they faced, although there are many exceptions to this.
Many of us feel that the federal government’s discomfort with an armed citizenry, that belief being shared by progressive Americans, is associated with the threat of a tyrannical government would face from an armed citizenry challenging its misconduct.
I believe that this is the core motivation for those who seek to disarm the people. But as we consider the effect of this disarmament and look at the Civil War through that prism, we see that that a disarmed citizenry has very little effect on a region’s ability to resist federal duress….at least after a while.
While our modern shotguns, high precision deer rifles and good-quality pistols are far better weapons than what the citizenry possessed 150 years ago, they still aren’t really the right weapons for war. I think the same scramble for better and more appropriate weapons would occur today as was the case back then.
Unless all of the forts, National Guard Armory’s and other repositories of military weaponry are able to resist those who would abandon their posts and a rebellious citizenry bent on overwhelming and seizing an armory, then disarming the citizenry would have had little benefit in terms of protecting the federal government from its own citizens.