Cartoon: How The 2nd Amendment Saves Us From Tyranny


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This cartoon’s gag is kind of obvious, but it made me laugh, especially after seeing Kevin Moore’s art on it. The “ye-e-es” dude in panel three especially cracks me up. (The “ye-e-es!” was entirely Kevin’s idea, btw. I find it hilarious, but I wouldn’t have thought of myself.)

“Wipe Out Freedom Immediately!” might be a good title for a future cartoon collection.


Casey Michel, writing on the lack of relationship between gun ownership and freedom, provides this graph, charting gun ownership rates against “democratization data from Freedom House.” What it shows is… a complete lack of any strong relationship between guns and democracy, one way or the other.

From Michel’s article:

The data shows no significant correlation between high civilian gun ownership rates and countries that have improved their democracy scores over the past decade. Nor is there a significant correlation between countries with low civilian gun ownership rates and those that have seen democratic backsliding.

The findings back up previous studies on the supposed link between civilian arms and democratic freedoms. As Jan Amo Hessbruegge, who works for the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote in 2017, “Research does not establish a clear correlation between private gun ownership levels and the relative political freedom of a particular country.”

And in looking at data from 2013, The Atlantic found that the relationship between democracy and civilian gun ownership rates was “observable, but minor.” One analyst called the link “baloney.”


I wish I could tell you what my plans are for 2022, but I don’t know. I’ve pitched a large-scale project to a publisher, and what this year looks like depends a lot on if they say yes or not.

For me, this sort of thing is the major advantage of having a “pay per cartoon” model, rather than a monthly subscription. If I get less productive for some reason, y’all will automatically be charged less (or not charged at all, if I don’t produce any new policartoons – but I don’t anticipate that happening).

I am definitely planning a new cartoon collection paperback in 2022. As for the rest… I’ll tell you once I know.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows two people – The President of the United States and an assistant of some sort – in the oval office. The angles chosen for each shot makes it impossible to see the President’s face: We can make out that he’s a white male with brown hair, but that’s it. In other words, he’s a generic white male President.

The assistant is wearing a blue suit with a red tie. He’s balding on top and has neatly combed salt-and-pepper hair on the sides.

PANEL 1

In the foreground, we see the President’s hand and arm; he’s sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. The assistant stand in front of the desk, talking to the President; he is grinning and doing a fist-pump with one hand, and holding a folder in the other.

PRESIDENT: We’ve had enough freedom! It’s tyranny time in America! How many soldiers do we have?

ASSISTANT: Yes sir, Mr President! We’ve got over a million troops.

PANEL 2

A similar angle shows the President’s hand and shoulder. The assistant is holding up a forefinger, listing things off, and looks very smug.

PRESIDENT: Excellent. And how about firepower?

ASSISTANT: We have six thousand tanks, thirteen thousand aircraft, forty thousand armored vehicles and almost four thousand nukes, Mr President.

PANEL 3

In the foreground, we can see the President pointing in a dramatic “go make it happen!” gesture. The drama is heightened by the extreme foreshortening on the arm, making the pointing hand look huge.

In the background, the assistant looks so thrilled that it’s frankly a bit disturbing; he’s pumping both his fists, grinning hugely, has huge wide eyes, and is hissing “ye-e-es!” Also, his folder has disappeared. Did he drop it? Maybe I’ll get in touch with Kevin and ask him to add a folder tucked under an arm to this panel.

PRESIDENT: Send them in and wipe out freedom immediately!

PANEL 4

The assistant is talking to the President, but now he looks very worried, wringing his hands with sweat flying off his forehead. In the foreground, we can see enough of the president to know that he’s also sweating, and has clasped his hands to his head, mussing his hair.

CAPTION: A few hours later

ASSISTANT: Mr President, the army has encountered some civilians armed with rifles and handguns.

PRESIDENT: Oh no! My evil plot is doomed! Abort! ABORT!

CAPTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CARTOON: How The Second Amendment Saves Us From Tyranny


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29 Responses to Cartoon: How The 2nd Amendment Saves Us From Tyranny

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    My usual question about the tyranny argument is “can prisoners have guns in prison?”. If yes, then maybe guns will make tyranny a little harder. But if only “law abiding citizens” can own guns, then a tyrannical government can simply declare dissidents to be criminals, send them all to prison, and take away their guns.

  2. 2
    Polaris says:

    Have you completely missed what has been happening in Afghanistan and now Ukraine?

    You are WAY too late with this cartoon.

    Also that that chart leaves out several democracies with significant gun ownership.

  3. 3
    Görkem says:

    @Polaris: Gun ownership definitely helps a country defend itself against foreign invasion, as we are seeing in Ukraine. But that’s not the scenario that’s usually used to justify gun ownership in the USA.

    Also, this chart misses out a lot of countries, including many which would prove its hypothesis (e.g. high-gun/low-freedom countries). It also does include several high-gun/high-freedom countries like Canada, Australia, South Africa and Croatia, so I don’t think it’s cherry picking. I think if the chart did include literally every country it would show the same non-relationship (but it would be way harder to read).

    This cartoon somewhat oversimplifies the issue – there have been plenty of times and places in history where tyrannies could not be imposed despite the military at the tyranny’s disposal massively outgunning the civilian population. But it can sometimes be done with almost no guns at all – e.g. the USSR was overthrown by protesters who were almost entirely unarmed.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    I’m interested in seeing how Freedom House scores democratization data. I had hoped that the two links would give me a clue, but I get a 404 on both. I do wonder if Canada’s recent actions in freezing the bank accounts of people involved in the recent truck convoy up there affected that ranking for them.

    I love the “what will armed citizens do with puny rifles when they face tanks, cannons, planes, nukes, etc.?” commentary I’ve seen so many times. Do people think that the U.S. military will use nuclear weapons against its own people? That any order to do so will actually be followed? Or that the military will comply with an order to treat New York City or Chicago like the Russians are treating Mariupol? Give that order and I bet lots of soldiers, sailors and Marines will join the resistance instead. And if our recent wars have taught us anything it has taught us that civilians can be quite effective in door-to-door fighting in urban settings against military. You may also be underestimating the shooting abilities of civilians. Try getting range time at your local gun range these days. Lots of people sharpening their skills out there, especially the millions upon millions of new gun buyers we’ve been seeing every year.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    Interesting breakdown on that “millions of troops”:

    In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.

    On a domestic basis, there are about 1.1 million active troops stationed in the United States, and here’s how they are grouped based on branch of service:

    Military Branch Active Domestic Personnel As a Percentage
    Army 394,236 35%
    Navy 283,499 25%
    Marine Corps 149,992 13%
    Air Force 249,738 22%
    Coast Guard 38,659 3%
    Total 1,116,124 100%

    Internationally, there are just under 200,000 troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.

    There’s also about 800,000 reserves/National Guard.

    I figure that the Navy and Coast Guard won’t be of much use in putting down a domestic uprising. Neither will troops in Germany, Italy, Japan, etc. The Air Force isn’t going to have any fighter aircraft to shoot down and I again figure that they’re unlikely to start bombing cities. That pretty much leaves the Army and the Marines. People seem to consistently misunderstand how the military works. Although the Marines do claim “Every man a rifleman”, a vast amount of the military are support – maintaining equipment, transporting and distributing food, water, clothing, handling all the paperwork, etc. As the Russians have found out in Ukraine, “Bullets don’t fly without Supply!” Only about 15% of the Army consists of actual infantry. Do the math and you’ll see that there’s no way that you could put “millions of troops” into the field against a civilian uprising, even if they’d go.

    Then understand that in Wisconsin alone, on opening day of the deer hunting season in 2021 there were 570,000 hunters in the woods, all with high-powered rifles that they know how to use well enough to have a reasonable expectation of being able to shoot and kill a deer. I couldn’t find a figure like that for Illinois, but the Illinois DNR issued 310,000 permits to take a deer with a firearm (and 200,000 for archery, which surprised me) and most hunters only get one permit. There are a LOT of people in the U.S. with rifles and that know how to use them. Do they lack the organization and training that the military has? Sure, and that would count for a lot. But quantity has a quality all its own, as they say. Use of the military to put down a broad-based uprising would be a protracted awful bloody mess, not a quick operation, and a lot of people in the military would likely refuse to take part.

  6. 6
    Görkem says:

    @RonF: Freedom House refreshes its data every year. The events in Canada are probably too recent to effect Canada’s rating one way or another. I’m sure Canada will be down there with leftist autocracies like Iran, Belarus and Sweden any day now and your faith in Freedom House will be restored.

    The first two sentences I actually mean seriously though (for what it’s worth).

  7. 7
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Have you completely missed what has been happening in Afghanistan and now Ukraine?

    Are you saying that some significant percentage of American gun ownership includes missile launchers, anti-aircraft weapons, and anti-tank missiles? Man! The hunters I know are really missing out on something.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    I had hoped that the two links would give me a clue, but I get a 404 on both.

    Huh. Fixed — sort of. I added links that seem to me to be likely what Michel was linking to, but there was a bit of guesswork involved. Thanks for pointing out the 404s.

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    Are you saying that some significant percentage of American gun ownership includes missile launchers, anti-aircraft weapons, and anti-tank missiles?

    Ah, mea culpa – at least as far as Ukraine goes. But given that I rather think you’d have a big problem getting the American military to use missiles and bombs against fellow Americans and their cities and towns, by the analogy to Afghanistan I was thinking more about the door-to-door urban fighting issue. I should have included Iraq, not Ukraine, where urban fighting was also a big issue. Yes, the Army and Marines DID in fact win a military victory in Iraq, but it was no walk in the park and again included assets that I don’t think you’d be able to use domestically.

  10. 10
    Eytan Zweig says:

    I’m a bit confused about the repeated mentions of Afghanistan, because it’s not a country I currently consider particularly free of tyranny.

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    I need to read through those links, but in scanning through them:

    The very first words on the Atlantic piece:

    “A police officer removes the cylinder of a revolver ….” I love it when people who clearly don’t know anything about firearms write about firearms. Whoever is handling that revolver pressed the cylinder release to open the firearm and (at least initially) ensure it was unloaded; a skill that someone should have taught Alex Baldwin, but I digress. The cylinder is not removed, it’s still attached, and one quick hand motion would enable the handgun to be fired if there were cartridges in it. “Opens” or “releases” would be correct here. Removing the cylinder from the gun cannot be done without tools and is not what’s going on in that picture. It would be nice if journalists who write about firearms took a basic rifle, shotgun and/or handgun course. They might learn a few things that their usual sources about firearms (e.g., United Against Gun Violence or Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense) don’t cover.

    If you cite The Freedom House’s measurement of “democratization data” then their methodology for assessing democracy deserves scrutiny. I note that while it attempts to evaluate that in part on whether people have certain essential freedoms and civil liberties it includes evaluation of what Americans depend on the First Amendment to ensure but says nothing about what Americans depend on the Second Amendment to ensure. I can’t tell from a quick search what any surveys would reveal as far as how essential to be considered free Americans think the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment are. I have to figure a lot of people do, though. OTOH, I’d like to see that for our First Amendment rights as well. There seem to be a lot of people who think that words = violence and so certain opinions on race, firearms, abortion, gender, gay rights, etc. can be considered “hate speech” and should not – or even don’t – enjoy First Amendment protections.

  12. 12
    Görkem says:

    “I’m a bit confused about the repeated mentions of Afghanistan, because it’s not a country I currently consider particularly free of tyranny.”

    I think Ron’s point is that if the people of Afghanistan could prevent the US army from imposing American rule over Afghanistan, despite the US army’s massive preponderance in heavy weaponry and the Afghan resistance/Taliban generally not having equipment more serious than rifles (yes, we know about the Stingers, but they were very few in number and mostly used by 2001), then the US army would have equal difficulty imposing American tyranny over the USA, where the potential anti-tyrannical resistance is similarly lacking in heavy weapons but well furnished with rifles and smaller guns.

  13. 13
    Eytan Zweig says:

    I get that, but the argument is whether gun ownership can prevent tyranny, not whether it can help repel foreign invasions. Afghanistan is an example of how private gun ownership helped repel foreign invaders and then establish repressive regimes. That’s not the same thing.

  14. 14
    Görkem says:

    Yes, well, I’m not saying that it’s a good argument, just that it is his argument.

  15. 15
    Görkem says:

    ” I can’t tell from a quick search what any surveys would reveal as far as how essential to be considered free Americans think the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment are.”

    I am trying to parse this and I think, amid the usual Ron style “why don’t more people agree with me” digressions, you’re arguing that gun ownership is a measure of democracy equally important to freedom of speech? E.g. that ownership of guns is not just something that protects democracy, but is an actual facet of democracy itself? If that’s your contention then I am sure the Freedom House score is indeed faulty, and I am equally sure you can find some “alternative facts”, probably published by a Texas based think tank with strong ties to evangelical churches, that reveal that – lo and behold – the United States is actually the most democratic country in the world, who would have guessed? But measuring that way will also tell you that Somalia and Belgium are equally democratic, since one has guns and no freedom while the other has freedom and no guns, which must of course be measured equally because of the first and second amendment being equivalent – because if you want to define democracy as a global universal phenomenon, one must of course start with the constitution of the United States and go from there.

  16. 16
    Corso says:

    Is there a better breakdown for that guns/freedom index chart?

    I was having a heck of a time figuring out which line on the freedom index was for what country (for the life of me, it looked like the Canadian index score was on the same level (approximately) as the Congo, and that didn’t seem right.). I thought I could figure it out by counting data points against countries, but was confused to find that while there were only 44 countries listed there were at least 60 peaks/valleys to the index data. I have the feeling that there are significantly more country’s data present, they’re just unlabelled, and we don’t know where the labels we do see actually meet the data.

    This doesn’t matter to the point at large, which was that regardless of which countries exactly are on the data line, there is absolutely no correlation between gun ownership and freedom scores, I’m just a data nerd.

  17. 17
    RonF says:

    you’re arguing that gun ownership is a measure of democracy equally important to freedom of speech? E.g. that ownership of guns is not just something that protects democracy, but is an actual facet of democracy itself?

    A lot of people think exactly that – that the right to keep and bear arms is just as much an essential freedom as freedom of speech, and that people who are forbidden to keep and bear arms are less than free just as people who have their speech restricted by the government are less than free. After all, it’s in our Bill of Rights as an essential right that government is bound to defend just as freedom of speech is. I don’t see equating the two rights as both being essential to the measurement of freedom as being particular radical.

  18. 18
    RonF says:

    The mention of Afghanistan is to make the point that contrary to arguments made by people favoring increasing civilian firearm ownership restrictions, an armed citizenry can in fact effectively oppose military forces. Whether it favors resisting or establishing tyranny depends on the intent of the armed citizenry and the people commanding the military forces once they win.

  19. 19
    Görkem says:

    “A lot of people think exactly that”

    Yeah, you’d be surprised how many stupid ideas nonetheless pass the “A lot of people think that” test. Or, maybe you wouldn’t.

    “After all, it’s in our Bill of Rights as an essential right that government is bound to defend just as freedom of speech is.”

    I don’t dispute that US law establishes this right. The question is, is it correct to do so?

    “I don’t see equating the two rights as both being essential to the measurement of freedom as being particular radical.”

    And therefore the USA is the most free country in the world because it provides a right to bear arms that other democracies don’t. Got it.

  20. 20
    Görkem says:

    “The mention of Afghanistan is to make the point that contrary to arguments made by people favoring increasing civilian firearm ownership restrictions, an armed citizenry can in fact effectively oppose military forces.”

    You may be surprised to hear this but I actually largely agree with you on this, and I don’t think Amp’s argument in this cartoon is especially strong. I don’t support the right to bear arms, but there are lots of cases in history where a relatively poorly armed civilian populace is able to effectively resist a more heavily armed military.

    It’s always a very bloody “victory”, and it helps if the civilian populace has effective foreign support (although this is rarely hard to come by), and it can often take a very long time, and it usually relies on the more heavily-armed side just giving up rather than being actively defeated in the field of battle. And usually, crucially, it is a -foreign- military rather than an internal despotism – there are much fewer cases of this happening. But having said that, it can happen.

    Still, I think there are better ways to defend one’s democratic rights than threatening to shoot soldiers enforcing the undemocratic dictates of some tyrannical government. There are plenty of times in history where a civilian populace was able to overthrow a tyrannical government despite -not- being especially heavily armed.

    When people outside the USA are concerned about their governments democratically backsliding, they don’t usually view collecting weapons as an effective countermeasure. Despite the right to bear arms being guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights, as you pointed out.

  21. 21
    RonF says:

    And therefore the USA is the most free country in the world because it provides a right to bear arms that other democracies don’t. Got it.

    I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is that a claim that a particular organization’s estimate of the level of freedom the citizens of a country have is definitive has to be weighed against the metrics that organization uses. In the particular case of the RKBA (right to keep and bear arms) I, as well as many if not most Americans, would say that a set of metrics used for that purpose are invalid if they do not take into account whether a country’s citizens have RKBA. But that’s not the only metric one might call into question. Right now we have people in the U.S. that claim that the free speech principles of the U.S. as currently interpreted by our courts actually makes the U.S. less free that it could be because we have no laws restricting “hate speech” and that therefore the putative victims thereof are oppressed and less free.

    Still, I think there are better ways to defend one’s democratic rights than threatening to shoot soldiers enforcing the undemocratic dictates of some tyrannical government. There are plenty of times in history where a civilian populace was able to overthrow a tyrannical government despite -not- being especially heavily armed.

    Agreed. But I figure the existence of the former as an option makes the latter option more likely to be effective.

  22. 22
    Görkem says:

    ” I, as well as many if not most Americans, would say that a set of metrics used for that purpose are invalid if they do not take into account whether a country’s citizens have RKBA”

    You may be overestimating how much weight the views of many or most Americans carry. Many or most Americans believe in Jesus, and I’m content to be an atheist.

    Conversely, many or most non-Americans do not view RKBA as a fundamental democratic freedom. Does that influence your views on the issue? I’m guessing not.

    Personally, I don’t weigh the views of most Americans any more heavily than the views of most Nigerians, or most Brazilians, or most Indians.

  23. 23
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Personally, I don’t weigh the views of most Americans any more heavily than the views of most Nigerians, or most Brazilians, or most Indians.

    4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident for their patients who chew gum.

    Have I convinced you?

  24. 24
    JaneDoh says:

    I am also not sure that most Americans consider the right to bear arms as a crucial marker of freedom. It probably depends on where you live. And the US has a pretty strange relationship with guns when compared to the rest of the world anyway.

  25. 25
    Görkem says:

    @JaneDoh: To be fair to Ron, he said “many if not most”. I don’t think it’s controversial that “many” Americans agree with Ron re: right to bear arms being a fundamental democratic right.

    Where Ron is wrong isn’t in the assertion of this fact, so much as his claim that this fact constitutes a powerful counter to people who don’t consider this a fundamental democratic right.

  26. 26
    RonF says:

    Personally, I don’t weigh the views of most Americans any more heavily than the views of most Nigerians, or most Brazilians, or most Indians.

    I’m not asking you to. Whatever works for you is fine by me. My point is that it doesn’t make sense to expect Americans to accept a rating of how free their country is and how it compares to other countries when one of the freedoms prized by people in America is not among the metrics used in that rating.

    I did a little more research into the “most, if not all” concept. Here is a year-old survey claiming that 81% of Americans think that our 2nd Amendment rights are “very” or “somewhat” important. Unfortunately it has no breakdown between the two or what the questions were that were asked, which I’d be interesting in seeing to evaluate that number. I’ve looked at a few other surveys ranging from last year to 2010 and 2008 and as far as I can tell it seems that while people go back and forth on what kind of regulations there should be on firearm ownership the concept that gun ownership is a basic right seems to be held by a majority of Americans. I would welcome any input on this that is either more recent or more specific on whether Americans view their RKBA as necessary or essential.

  27. 27
    Görkem says:

    “Whatever works for you is fine by me. ”

    Phew, that’s a relief! I was worried that my views weren’t fine with you. I can rest easy now that I know my views are OK with Ron.

    “My point is that it doesn’t make sense to expect Americans to accept a rating of how free their country is and how it compares to other countries when one of the freedoms prized by people in America is not among the metrics used in that rating.”

    Did I ever say I expected Americans to accept anything? I no more expect Americans to accept my view on guns than I expect them to accept that there’s no God. This was never a discussion about what Americans will accept. It was a question about what makes, and doesn’t make, a country a democracy. You’ve made a strong claim that right to bear arms makes a country more democratic, but all you’ve offered to support this is “Americans believe”.

    You keep trying to shift this conversation to America. It isn’t particularly about America. The original context was a comparison between countries, only one of which is America. That’s why you are trying to claim that I am making arguments about what Americans should accept, because that makes it seem like I’m the one shifting the focus to America, but I’m not. You’re the one who keeps bringing America up. Why is that? Do you think there’s something special about America? Why does a conversation about what democracy is have to refer to America and the beliefs of Americans?

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    “Whatever works for you is fine by me. ”

    Phew, that’s a relief! I was worried that my views weren’t fine with you. I can rest easy now that I know my views are OK with Ron.

    This remark just seems like hostility that adds no content? Please try to avoid that on “Alas.” Thanks. :-)

  29. 29
    Görkem says:

    Sorry Barry

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