In mid-March, this ZGBlog explored the usefulness of gun ownership, but in the time since I've realized that I missed a significant factor. This attempts to repair the omission.
The fifth item in the list there was about defeating government, and concluded that for that purpose guns are a non-starter. That was based on the reasoning that while highly effective in deterring foreign invaders who do not start with any control over an administrative bureaucracy, guerrilla wars cannot cut the mustard; and while instrumental in 1776-81, were not decisive even then. However, there is one aspect to that which I forgot; apologies and thanks to those who spotted it.
The missing bit is the possibility which John Ross detailed in his monumental novel, Unintended Consequences; that as government becomes ever more oppressive and infuriating, a well-armed population may spontaneously explode with resistance. No central campaign planning took place; it was just a wild fire of frustration and loss of patience.
It's fictional, of course, though highly credible. A good deal of the book deals with minutiae of various kinds of gun and how to control them accurately, but also with the arrogant and exasperating interference with gun rights on the part of BATF agents, contrasted with the plain promise of Amendment 2 that no law shall infringe them.
The novel builds to a climax in which, finding no alternative, a small number of people hit back at government jackbooted thugs and kill them; not just with guns and not in any coordinated fashion; one particularly gruesome example is that someone, completely frustrated in his attempts to deal reasonably with some bureau-rat, arranges for the latter to reach through the former's car window. He then closes the window and drives off, ripping off the arm and leaving the body for dead in the road.
As news of a few such retaliations spreads, more take place all over the country - again, with no planned coordination but just as a result of widespread anger with government. The FedGov is alarmed; should it spread even more, chaos (the bad kind) will ensue.
So negotiations begin with a few of the more prominent heroes, and the outcome is a set of promises to relax and repeal many anti-gun laws and to have all government employees treat the public with increased respect. As those promises take effect, the violence decreases, peace is restored and the novel ends.
What does not happen is that any branch or level of government goes out of business altogether; the best that author Ross can foresee is that it adheres rather more closely to the supposed limits of the Constitution. It's a story about re-establishing smaller, or maybe minimal government, not about zero government. As such, it's not at all incredible.
I agree. I can see no way that the kind of revolution described could do anything more than that. The possibility of being assassinated on the job might well scare a critical number of government workers to stay home, but it would do nothing to re-educate them about the immorality of how they are earning their livings; the "bad guys" would still appear, in their eyes, to be the assassins rather than themselves. They would return to work when the crisis passed, undertake a crash course in public relations, and get back to governing as usual. The thieves and oppressors might become more polite and less harsh, but they would remain just as kleptocratic and parasitic.
There is of course a further and more disturbing reason why I hope that Ross' scenario never takes place; not only can't it produce a ZGS, not only does it use violence - the very weapon of government - but it uses violence in a badly targeted manner that has to do with vengeance more than defense or justice. Killing in self defense is ethically sound; but usually a bureau-rat does not directly threaten the life of any of his victims. The above example about killing one by ripping off his arm was an act of plain murder. So are most of the examples in the novel.
So while John Ross did the world a great service by graphically pointing out the arrogance of government, and while his vision of the possible blowback may indeed happen, I hope it does not and certainly don't expect it to introduce a free society. The peaceful way to achieve that is, rather, described right here in Freedom in Our Time.