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Guns, Dems, Civil War

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A reader writes:
I was reading your articles and many updates to how and why a second Civil War could come to the US and felt like you were missing the most likely scenario.  Then I read how you wrote that you are more of a 1st Amendment supporter and think some conservatives are too focussed on the 2nd.   This perception of yours may be causing you to discount what I think is the likeliest route to a 2nd Civil War.
This is the path that I see:
Biden wins the Presidency and the Democrats take the Senate and keep the House.  The federal government then follows up on Biden’s statement that the most popular rifles in the US should be illegal.  They remove then remove the protections on gun manufacturers so that even if a gun manufacturer did nothing wrong, the manufacturer would still be required to pay for any damage that gun caused.  This would bankrupt all gun manufacturers. [Note: Biden’s platform calls for removing protections on gun manufacturers. — RD]
The US has something like 8 million miles of roads and highways, 140,000 miles of railroad track and 160,000 miles of electric power lines.  No government can defend all of that.  If Biden wins and semi-automatic rifles are banned, then the “Resistance” will likely begin with individual attacks on shipping.  It would not take a large percent of gun owners to shut down the economy of the US.  Puncture enough fuel tanks on semi and locomotives and most shipping stops.  Hit a few key long distance transmission power lines and the blackouts will be extensive.
Since no government can defend that many miles of infrastructure, especially since most of those miles are in red areas with county police likely sympathetic to the shooters, house by house gun confiscation would be the only remaining option to a federal government trying to control the damage.  This is what would trigger many states to secede and likely cause mutiny in much of the armed forces.
I live in the rural part of VA.  Democrats took over total control of VA government this past session.  They proposed many bills to curtail the civil rights of gun owners.  The response at the county level in rural areas was tremendous.  More people came out to these county government meetings than had ever happened before.  Your writing implies you either disagree with this or that you are unaware of this response.  My county, a fairly crunchy and granola rural county voted to be a gun sanctuary county for the state and not enforce state laws that restricted civil rights related to guns.
While I hope this does not happen as it will cause untold suffering, deaths, and loss, I am preparing for this to happen.  My family has purchased guns for the first time, we obtained training and we are stocking up on ammunition.  We are preparing more food stores and learning to save our own vegetable seeds.
I was unaware of the rural counties’ response in Virginia. That is big news. And the reader’s scenario puts into a certain perspective yesterday’s news that the Democratic New York State Attorney General is going after the NRA in an effort to dismantle it entirely. Note well that she once called the NRA a “terrorist organization.” Readers of this blog who say that the AG is only going after the NRA because there’s a lot of evidence that it has been run corruptly are not credible. There is, alas, evidence that the NRA has violated its nonprofit status, and if so, there is no problem in principle with a state investigation. But you’d have to be an idiot to think that this particular Attorney General is only motivated by a desire that the gun-rights lobby be administered more honestly. If the AG of Texas had called Planned Parenthood an “exterminationist organization” and announced that he was going to use allegations of internal corruption to dismantle it, everyone on the Left would know exactly what was going on.
I saw yesterday a story saying that the NY AG announcement would hurt Trump’s re-election bid. Not a chance! If anything, this will help Trump by rousing his base — especially if there is more civil unrest this fall. The idea that a Democratic president and Congress would work to even partially disarm the American public at a time when left-wing rioters have been burning cities — well, it’s hard to think of a stronger impulse to gig the pro-Trump vote than that.
I don’t understand how the Left thinks. I get that many of them strongly oppose Constitutional gun rights. It so happens that millions of Americans oppose them on this, intensely. So you have the New York AG calling a press conference to announce that she’s going after the NRA for the sake of dismantling this “terrorist organization” — this, in an election year, in which a pro-gun control Democrat is running for president. What kind of message does that send to the millions of Americans who cherish their Second Amendment rights? Somehow, though, we’re going to get people on the Left who really will not be able to wrap their minds around the fact that more than a few people resent them for what they’re doing.
I see this as tied to the media’s role in obsessing over Critical Race Theory, and making it a big part of its coverage (I wrote about this earlier today — really shocking data.) For at least seven years now, the mainstream media has been propagandizing Americans into being radically suspicious of and hostile to each other on the basis of a dubious far-left ideological theory. When racial strife erupts in the country in violence, or within a racialized politics, the media Leftists and those who take what they say as the gospel truth will be shocked that there is so much racism in America.
What do these two stories have in common? Left-wing people who think that the only possible reason to disagree with them or to resist them is bigotry, bitter-clinging, and suchlike.
By the way, I grant the good faith of you readers who have protested against even talking about the prospect of civil war in this country, calling it dangerous. I would caution you, though, to consider this point made by Johns Hopkins professor Michael Vlahos here in TAC a couple of years ago:

Disbelieving war makes it inevitable. People will always disbelieve that we could come to blows, until we do. Delegates at the “Democracy” party convention in Charleston, in the summer of 1860, were still in denial of the coming fury. No one dares imagine another civil war playing out like the last, when two grimly determined American armies fought each other to the death in bloody pitched battles. It is unlikely that a third American civil war will embrace 18th and 19th century military dynamics. Antique Anglo-American society—organized around community “mustering”—was culturally equipped to fight civil wars. Today’s screen-absorbed Millennials are not. So what?

But the historical consequences of a non-military American civil war would be just as severe as any struggle settled by battle and blood. For example, the map of a divided America today suggests that division into functioning state and local sovereignties—with autonomy over kinship, identity, and way of life issues—might be the result of this non-bloody war. This could even represent de facto national partition—without de jure secession, achieved through a gradual process of accretive state and local nullification.

So what would a non-military civil war look like? Could it be non-violent? Americans are certainly not lovers, but they do not seem really to be fighters either. A possible path to kinship disengagement—a separation without de jure divorce—would here likely follow a crisis, a confrontation, and some shocking, spasmodic violence, horrifyingly amplified on social media. Passions at this point would pull back, but investment in separation would not. What might eventuate would be a national sorting out, a de facto kinship separation in which Blue and Red regions would go—and govern—their own ways, while still maintaining the surface fiction of a titular “United States.” This was, after all, the arrangement America came to after 20 years of civil war (1857-1877). This time, however, there will be no succeeding conciliation (as was achieved in the 1890s). Culturally, this United States will be, from the moment of agreement, two entirely separate sensibilities, peoples, and politics.

Don’t say it can’t happen here. If you think that, you will be at risk of making the kinds of mistakes that make it happening here more likely.
UPDATE: A reader writes:

FYI, re your blog post “Guns, Dems, Civil War”, I’ve acquired a semi-automatic mini pistol (Sig Sauer P365) and had my first session with a private trainer at a target range this afternoon. At the end of the month, I’ll attend his class for qualifying for the Michigan concealed pistol license (CPL). When I obtain it, I’ll start “packing heat”.

Until this afternoon, I hadn’t fired a weapon since leaving the Army in 1969 and debated with myself for the last couple of years whether or not I should get a CPL and carry a pistol. The riots around the country this summer, as well as my concerns with safety in my neighborhood (where I have been mugged and where there are often break-ins), finally prompted me to take action. My wife reluctantly went along.

I’m getting more than a few e-mails and messages like this. A friend e-mailed today to say that he had just joined the NRA. He forwarded to me the “congratulations” message he received confirming his membership, and added:

Amazing. I hated them only 8 months ago.

Times are changing.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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