Friday, January 3, 2020

Ready And Able...But Willing?

     Never before has there been as much “official force” in America as there is today. It comes in many forms:

  • active-duty military;
  • military reserves (i.e., National Guard);
  • federal law enforcement agencies;
  • state police;
  • local police;
  • lots of federal, state, and local government employees who go about their daily business armed.

     Some of these are “obvious;” others are not. For an example of the unobvious kind, were you aware that field agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture routinely go armed? How about those of the Environmental Protection Agency? It’s true, in both cases.

     It happened quietly, as with most threatening moves by governments. To have done it noisily, with nationwide announcements that “Henceforward, agents of the Department of XXX will routinely go armed on their daily rounds” would have queered the deal. Americans would have demanded an explanation – and in all probability we would not have accepted whatever we were offered.

     Yet here we are. Moreover, it could have been foreseen, for a simple reason: there’s far more law in America than ever before. Law engenders law enforcement – emphasis on force.

     The fundamental fact about law is that it is meaningless unless enforced. I’ve written before about the pernicious nature of an unenforced law:

     An unenforced law is among the most insidious of all political things. First, it weakens respect for all law. Second, it muddies the predictability of events. Third and perhaps worst, it gives the politicians a rationale for moving against anyone unwise enough to act as if the law had been repealed.

     It’s dangerous for other reasons, too:

     In essence, the law as it genuinely affects the lives of Americans is that subset of the de jure laws – i.e., the laws passed by Congress or the state or local legislature – which is effectively enforced: the law de facto. Why, after all, would anyone care overly much about unenforced laws?

     (In point of fact, there is a reason to concern oneself about an unenforced law: it’s available to be used against those the political elite dislikes. Consider that before arbitrarily dismissing unenforced laws such as Andrew Cuomo’s “SAFE Act.” However, in practice only those laws that are actively enforced are pertinent to the private least, as long as he keeps his head down.)

     So when we see a government moving to enact a law aimed at persons who’ve already announced their unwillingness to comply with it, there is reason for more than academic concern.

     The unwillingness of Virginia’s gun owners to comply with the anti-gun laws the Democrat-dominated state government has proposed (and is overwhelmingly likely to enact) is on open display. All but a handful of Virginia’s counties have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries prepared to defy any such laws. Yet Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia’s Democrat legislators appear unwilling to back away from their anti-gunnery. Thus the stage is set for a confrontation.

     Something like this occurred in New York State at the time Governor Andrew Cuomo rammed the “SAFE Act” through the state legislature. Not one sheriff in the state was willing to enforce the terms of that law. The law has gone unenforced...yet it remains on New York’s books. It remains available for selective enforcement, should the mandarins of the Empire State decide to use it:

     At its base, law -- legislated law, not natural law, religious law, or any other sort -- is a statement of intent. If this happens, these shall be the consequences. While law is sufficiently widely and deeply respected, it also functions as a way to predict what will follow from certain well-defined actions taken in relevant contexts. But when that respect has attenuated below the required threshold, such predictions become worthless. Non-enforcement against privileged persons and selective enforcement according to political priorities render the words of the law meaningless. The Rule of Law becomes meaningless as well.

     What shall we make of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection?” Can there be such a thing when laws go unenforced but remain nominally “in force?” Suppose for a moment that such a law has been “in force” for decades but has never been enforced. Would you call it harmless? I wouldn’t.

     I have a dear friend, a shooting enthusiast with a lot of guns, including several the Northam proposals target, who lives in Virginia. Would you counsel her to relax? Would you do so after ten years of non-enforcement? How about twenty?

     The unwillingness of today’s myrmidons does not guarantee a continuity of that attitude among their successors.

     The joker in Virginia’s deck is this: Suppose Northam mobilizes the Virginia National Guard and directs its commanders to enforce his new anti-gun laws. Suppose, moreover, that the commanders comply, and that the troops offer no significant resistance to their orders. Alternately, suppose Virginia’s state police are dispatched to effectuate the law. What then?

     Have some thoughts from Matt Bracken:

     [E]ven if the Virginia governor was given the go-ahead by the SCOTUS, and even if the present demographic shift in Virginia (based on mass immigration) continues to favor the Democrats in future elections, if any significant percentage of Virginians consider gun confiscation raids to be unconstitutional and worth resisting, make no mistake, there will be armed resistance. Many millions of Americans, including Virginians, consider mandatory gun registration (much less confiscation!) to be a necessary first step on the path to socialist tyranny, boxcars, gulags, and worse. If and when widespread gun confiscation begins, even under the cover of so-called “red flag” laws, or following the refusal of Virginians to comply with gun registration mandates, there will be a civil war.

     Bracken sounds quite certain, doesn’t he? If he’s correct, it would be the start of a conflagration guaranteed to spread across the lower 48 states. It would have the effect of pitching the lower-density population regions against the more urbanized ones. Under those conditions, the defenders of the right to keep and bear arms would have a considerable advantage:

     The geography and topography of much of Virginia means that convoys of police cars and SUVs on gun confiscation missions will be forced to travel through labyrinthine terrain on their way to and from their objectives. After a few bloody (and all-too predictable) gun raid outcomes along the lines of Ruby Ridge or Waco, at least some Virginians will not simply wait for another law enforcement (LE) convoy to arrive unmolested on their street for the next set-piece gun confiscation raid. These LE convoys will be readily identifiable far in advance of their gun raid objectives, and in the event that this constitutional struggle over the Second Amendment turns kinetic, these confiscation convoys will be taken under accurate long-range fire from hidden marksmen on the way to or returning from their objectives.

     Bracken is talking specifically about Virginia and Virginians, but his analysis generalizes to many other parts of the nation. Moreover:

     I’m simply not aware of any previous civil war where tens of thousands of aggrieved citizens began the struggle armed with rifles capable of making 500 yard and greater precision shots. This is an equation changer. Gun raids will not be possible for long if law enforcement convoys are taken under accurate fire en-route to and from gun confiscation operations, and roadside car-search checkpoint duty becomes a suicide mission. Never forget what happened to the British redcoats on the famous 1775 gun confiscation raids at Concord and Lexington, and perhaps more importantly, remember what happened to them during their retreat to Boston.

     Should both sides exhibit equal willingness to fight, I cannot gainsay Bracken’s analysis. However, the balance of that critical factor can only be known once it’s been demonstrated.

     The ultimate determinant of any possible confrontation is willingness: the willingness of the attacker to press the issue versus the willingness of the defender to stand fast. Wars great and small are won not by body counts or bomb damage assessments, but by breaking the enemy’s will. If the Virginia Democrats conclude that their probing bayonet has met steel, whether before or after any attempts at enforcement, the defenders of Virginians’ Second Amendment rights will prevail. But should those defenders’ will to resist slacken – should they decide that they’re unwilling to court (more) bloodshed – the anti-gunners will win. And there is a middle case that ultimately might prove more troublesome than the “extremes:” the anti-gunners might refrain from active enforcement, but the anti-gun laws remain in force de jure, to trouble and intimidate Virginians present and future through targeted investigations and selective enforcement.

     Keep your eye on the Commonwealth of Virginia.



Politicians will not be immune. Nor will editorialists.

As I put it to an anti-gunner some time ago... go outside your house. Look around. See places within 100 yards someone could hide? I guarantee there are lots of them.

But more broadly, power will go out. Without power there's no heat. Or refrigeration. Or gas stations. Or cash / banking. That national guard is going to have other things to do in a real big hurry as people understand they'll starve.


Once the grid is down, the situation would be like Puerto Rico... on steroids.

Rick C said...

At the beginning of November I was in the Albany area for a few days. While driving back roads in the small villages in the area I saw a house with an anti-SAFE Act sign. Can't remember exactly what it said but it was pretty obvious. I had forgotten, as probably a lot of people do, that attitudes away from NYC can be very different.

Linda Fox said...

Ironically, the poorer and rural neighborhoods will be better positioned to survive:
- may have ability to use wood/other materials to cook and heat
- likelier to be in homes that are insulated - newer construction s NOT that great for passive heat retention
- better access to gardens (rural) or practiced in the art of scrounging (urban)
- likelier to have military experience/survival training
- likelier to be armed

The Elite will go under fast.

Aesop said...



"Never" before?
You're much, much better than that.

Use the categories you listed, and google the active duty military strength of the US in 1945. Then as a percentage of the US population in 1945.

We are at a fraction of that level of official strength today.

In light of that, you want to restate that premise a tad, I suspect.

Francis W. Porretto said...

No, Aesop, I stand by it. Read the sentence again, carefully this time. You'll get it on your second pass.