The role of guns in revolutions
Guns are the great equalizer of power. Guns make it possible for an elderly grandma to ward off an assault from a young perpetrator. Guns make it possible for a preaching minister to keep a congregation safe in the midst of a mass shooting event. And guns make it possible for a group of citizens to overthrow a government.
According to the dictionary, a revolution is the “forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system.” The question for this blog is: How do you forcibly overthrow a government without guns? The answer is, you don’t. In 1989, a wave of revolution attempts happened around the world, most predominately in Eastern Europe, but also in China (we’ll discuss China later in this post).
The revolutions in Eastern Europe were remarkably successful as the Soviet Union collapsed under the overwhelming pressure of dissidents supported by the entire western world. Like dominoes, one communist state after another dissolved into oblivion. Each government’s collapse began with an uprising from the people, followed by bullets. Bullets ALWAYS follow an uprising from the people. If citizens can find a way to get guns, then they might have a fighting chance against the establishment. Otherwise it’s just a matter of time until the revolution becomes a failure; squashed by the state’s usually overpowering use of firearms.
Probably the most dramatic, successful revolution in 1989 occurred in Romania. In December 1989, the people of Romania started to protest their brutal dictator and his policies. The protests were centered in Bucharest, but extended to cities and towns across the country. The Romanian secret police tried to fight off the rebellion, and would have succeed, except the people were joined by the Romanian Army which refused to fire upon its own people. In a shocking turn of events, it was soldiers from the Romanian Army (not civilians) who chased after the fleeing dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and captured, tried, and swiftly executed him.
Even after the execution of Nicolae, the fighting continued between the secret police, who were still loyal communists, and the Romanian Army, who were solidly with the people. After many days and many deaths, the Romanian Army eventually succeeded in ridding Romania of communism once and for all.
The people of Romania got lucky. They had the Romanian Army on their side. Imagine if the army hadn’t defected. It would have been a swift “game over” for the dissidents and certain death for any discovered to have been involved in the attempted government overthrow. This is exactly what happened in China earlier that same year.
In the Spring of 1989, Chinese citizens, fed up with the oppressive and corrupt communist regime, descended upon Tiananmen Square in Beijing to hold peaceful protests. Their demonstration attracted tens-of-thousands of supporters who gathered in Tiananmen Square and cities across China. And though the protests were “peaceful” the Chinese government treated the dissident voices as a threat to be reckoned with, and mobilized 300,000 soldiers to get rid of them. 300,000 soldiers! Think of it.
With bullets flying and tanks rolling, the Chinese Army killed hundreds (some say thousands) of protestors, successfully ending the uprising.
The Chinese revolutionaries were not as lucky as their revolutionary counterparts in Romania, for Romania’s Army had joined the people. The army in China remained loyal to its leaders, thus keeping the “power of the bullet” within the control of corrupt leaders.
Guns truly are the equalizer of power. That is why corrupt people in power, like Nicolae Ceausecu, don’t allow regular citizens to have guns. It’s that simple. And that is why, my friends, the framers of the American Constitution included the “right to bear arms” as an essential right for ALL Americans. The right to bear arms has nothing to do with the right to go hunting. It has everything to do with the right to defend yourself against tyranny. It is the great equalizer of power.