The United States is the most armed nation in the world. There are 90 guns for every 100 Americans. LINK
I would want to see that figure doubled and more – 2 guns for every American – if my goal were to conquer the United States in ten years. If I wanted to do the job in five years, I would encourage the growth of local militias.
I am not here to discuss how absurd it is to imagine that freedom can be protected by guns in a computerized world. The government hardly needs to confiscate guns to take away freedom, and corporations take your money and your rights with your consent. The point is that some Americans believe they can protect their freedom with firearms, or say they do. (Interesting. People say the ISIS are mad dogs because they think they can enforce Sharia law with guns, and still some people think freedom can be protected by guns.)
So, if I were out to conquer the US, it would be easy to provoke some confrontation in which guns were drawn to “protect freedom.” Protect it from who? The authorities, of course, who do not take kindly to that sort of behavior. They would necessarily take immediate steps to put down the insurrection. This would most likely lead to something like the confrontation between the authorities and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. Remember who won that one?
This might possibly incite widespread insurrection (all Waco did was lead to the Oklahoma City bombing and police departments beefing up their weaponry). Here is where the authorities have the upper hand: established centralized authority. No matter how loopy some law enforcement agencies are, a firefight between the sheriffs of County A and the police in County B is almost inconceivable. Groups of armed shooters “protecting their freedom” are under no such constraints; two groups of armed shooters might cooperate with each other, but broad alliances are almost inconceivable, and local militias would make the fight even more exciting. (My reasoning is thus: anybody who would shoot other people and turn his own homeland into a warzone in order to “protect his own rights” does not tolerate different opinions; in the absence of a fighting institution such as the Army or Marine Corps, if he is to be led at all, he will be led only by an alpha male who has fought his way to the top by eliminating anybody who does not follow his commands; such a leader does not tolerate other leaders in his territory.)
Several events could follow. A very unlikely event would be that once the “freedom protectors” had slaughtered enough of each other, sort of like the eliminations in a championship, a strong figure would emerge who could hold the fighting factions in line enough to conquer the authorized government of the United States. It is almost unthinkable that such a person would restore power to the government and hold free elections. More likely, he would then proclaim himself Savior or King or Dear Leader, and if you think he would return your rights to you, you must also believe in the tooth fairy.
A greater possibility is that the authorities would quash all the rebellions. For your safety’s sake, they would declare martial law, make the Patriot Act even stricter, and in effect revoke the Bill of Rights. People would buy it, because security is valued more than freedom. After enough gun battles, people would be eager to exchange their freedom of speech for safety from bullets. They would also be very likely to admire a strong man who could hold everything together, no matter what the cost.
We should also consider the possibility of the united states disuniting, making a patchwork of feuding states from sea to shining sea. Some might offer a modicum of freedom, but by their nature they would be permanently at war with each other, so freedom would be about as common as the California condor.
Another extremely probable outcome is that the groups would not stay focused. To protect their freedoms, they could easily branch into collecting “donations” from unarmed citizens to buy ammunition. It is practically impossible to imagine that these groups will merge racially. Some White groups would go wipe out those nasty Latino gangs, which would unify all the Hispanics to protect themselves against marauders. Some would start lynching Blacks or just shooting them on sight, and others would go after illegal immigrants, and then immigrants. Moslems would hardly remain untouched, so they would band together for protection. I find it very easy to see how people firing guns to “protect their freedom” would start ethnic cleansing. The Amerindians survived the last genocide; would they survive the next?
The most likely possibility would be that the government of the United States would be embroiled in continuous fighting with militants, until such time as both sides had killed each other to a stalemate, at which time Beijing would call in the money owed them. They might even step in earlier to protect Chinese citizens and Chinese interests in the US. By this time, the US would be in shambles and unable to provide basic public services, much less pay the astronomical debt we already owe the People’s Republic of China. If the US failed to pay, the Chinese would have a good enough excuse to move in and take over, and as Americans would have proven themselves unable to govern themselves responsibly, they would do the task for you. If you kept your noses clean, they might let Facebook keep running.
Some Americans quote Chairman Mao: “Power comes out of gun barrels”(槍管出政權)；if I remember correctly the quote was popularized in the US by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers.
Now, if you want to learn how to govern a country from a man who killed tens of millions of his own citizens, you might want to study your model a bit more carefully. First, that means exactly what it says: Power comes out of gun barrels, certainly not freedom. Second, Mao may have said that, but he knew that if that were true, he would never have been able to wrest power from the Nationalist Army, which was much better armed. Rather, his actions were guided by a concept which is actually much more common and better known in greater China: “I’d rather fight with my wits than with my power:寧鬥智、不鬥力,” said by Liu Bang, one of the very few men in Chinese history who fought his way from the lowest levels of society to found a dynasty (the Han, 2nd Century BCE to 2nd Century CE). Liu and Mao and practically everyone else won their power through manipulation, not fighting toe to toe.
And no matter what, what really comes out of gun barrels is bullets.
So just as I support people’s rights to have cars once they have proven themselves capable of driving them safely and responsibly, I support people’s rights to have guns once they have proven themselves capable of using them safely and responsibly. But the idea that guns can protect freedom simply does not bear scrutiny.