Mutual Assured Destruction

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition


Mutual Assured Destruction

The power is in the threat, not the execution


By Jeff Knox


(October 29, 2008)  There are some who are fond of repeating Jefferson’s comment about the tree of liberty needing to be “refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” though they often skip the part about patriots and choose to only include the tyrants.  The problem is that in actual practice you couldn’t leave out, “the blood of patriots,” because when the blood of tyrants is spilt, the blood of patriots must also be spilt.  There is simply no way around it. 

The same guys are often fond of bumper sticker slogans like, “…from my cold dead fingers,” and the more erudite, “MOLON LAVE,” and while I can appreciate the sentiment, I also know that in 99.995% of cases it’s simply not true.  The fact is that only those who have nothing to lose (and nothing to live for) are willing to give up everything – including their lives – in a symbolic gesture of defiance.  The rest of us, those with families – kids, grand-kids, vulnerable parents – and homes, jobs, and lives, are not interested in ditching the house, refrigerator, and HD-TV in exchange for a prison cell or a mountain cave.

Sure, if the Russian paratroopers start landing in “Red Dawn” fashion, many of us will grab our guns and go join the “Wolverines,” but that’s only when everything is gone anyway.  Don’t expect average Americans to rise up in revolution because the government is playing fast and loose with the Bill of Rights or because taxes get too high.  That’s not the way modern Americans think, nor is it the way the world works today.  Armed revolt in America would not lead to a renaissance of Jeffersonian liberalism; it would lead to the destruction of our nation and the guarantee that whatever replaced it would be worse than what it replaced.

Like nuclear deterrence, it is the threat that saves the world, not the execution.  If all of the 60 to 80 million gunowners in this nation were to rise up as one to ward off invasion or reject tyranny, they would be an unstoppable force.  Nay-sayers like to dismiss this idea because of the technological advantages enjoyed by the modern military, but there are 90 guns for every 100 people in the US and many, if not most, of the 2 million members of the military and the 1 million sworn law enforcement officers are strong supporters of the Second Amendment and the principles of liberty.  There is simply no doubt that the citizens’ militia does have the capacity and potential to defeat just about any military force in the world.  Only serious application of nuclear and/or biological weapons – wiping out a substantial portion of the population – would be able to turn the tide.

While this is all accurate and works well on paper, just like Marxism and Amway networks, the whole thing falls apart in practice because people never do what you want them to do or what they ought to do – even when doing so is clearly in their own best interests.  During the Revolutionary war, a full 40 to 45% of Americans actively supported the revolt.  Today, less than 6% of gunowners are even minimally active in political activism.  Gunowners turn out for elections at about the same rate as the non-gun owning public.

If gunowners and supporters of liberty can’t even agree on a presidential candidate, what makes any of them think that they will be able to agree on a revolution?  The threat of armed revolt must be maintained, but like the mutual assured destruction of nuclear war, its implementation must be avoided at all costs.  If we have the numbers and the commitment to win a revolution then we should easily be able to win an election.  The solution lies in the ballot box rather than the ammo box because the reality of a new revolution is that it is an all or worse than nothing proposition.  When people who should know better talk about revolution being the answer, impressionable idiots and misfits like Timothy McVeigh or the morons caught plotting to assassinate Barack Obama, believe that they are leading the revolution when in reality they are just giving the government an excuse to tighten the screws and pushing the public to accept the screw-tightening as necessary. 

The whole idea behind mutual assured destruction is that it forces the parties to find better ways to settle their differences.  Our founders put the mechanisms in place and it’s up to us to use those mechanisms to restore liberty and save the republic.


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes is hereby granted provided this credit is included.  Text is available at  To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA  20108. 

©Copyright 2008 Neal Knox Associates

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