What effect does civilian gun ownership have on military capability?


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Andrewsky
April 25, 2008, 10:01 PM
Edit: By "military" I mean the professional military. This is not to be confused with the unorganized militia.

I think it is beneficial for two main reasons.

-Small arms are developed in the private sector and these can be used by the military. The best example of this that I can think of off the top of my head is the weapons developed around the American Civil War. Almost every repeating weapon and certainly the originals were designed in the private sector and used in great numbers by both sides during the War. Think Colt and LeMat revolvers, or Spencer and Henry repeating rifles.

-Some troops enter the military with previously-aquired skills. The first of these skills is obviously marksmanship and familiarity with weapons. The second is field and hunting experience, which often goes along with gun ownership. These skills can be taught by the military but in crises they are indoubtebly valuable. An example of this might be the differences between a Japanese draftee and an American draftee during World War II. While I don't have any real sources to draw on, one would think, that on average, the American would enter military training with far more knowledge of weapons and fieldcraft than the Japanese soldier would.

Tell me what you think.

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DoubleTapDrew
April 25, 2008, 10:08 PM
In the book Unintended Consequences the point was made that the NFA and similar laws seriously hurt development of small arms and I believe it. Would JMB have devoted so much time and money in his MG designs if they could only be sold to .gov contracts?

Treo
April 25, 2008, 11:21 PM
This is my personal experience. When I was in the active duty army I qualified once every 6 months W/ an M-16. That was the only time I ever fired a weapon & I generally scored 25 out of 40 shots ( just enough to qualify). When I got out of the Army and joined the National Guard I was able to purchase my own weapon & practice as much as I pleased & my score jumped up to 35-38 out of 40.

I think my experience proves your therory

Ragnar Danneskjold
April 25, 2008, 11:33 PM
Would Stoner even have been able to design the current US battle rifle if the laws we have now were on the books back then?

Andrewsky
April 25, 2008, 11:45 PM
Would Stoner even have been able to design the current US battle rifle if the laws we have now were on the books back then?

We still had the National Firearms Act back when he was designing weapons.

So that wouldn't be an issue.

Rumble
April 25, 2008, 11:50 PM
On the law side, I think that the ability of the private sector to assist in development of new weapon systems and ideas does help military capability.

The ability of individuals to already have skills is also nice, although I recall seeing recently the fact that only around 1/3 of the population meets the military's requirements at this point (the gist being that fewer people could qualify to even get in than before). So I wonder if the benefit granted by civilians owning and learning to use weapons isn't outweighed by the decreasing number of people who can qualify even so.

This is, mind you, spoken as someone who is one of those 'not qualified' souls. While I can shoot (some), I'm too heavy, and asthmatic to boot. So the second benefit is inapplicable in my case.

PTK
April 25, 2008, 11:53 PM
Andrewsky

We did NOT, however, have the 1986 cessation of production of transferable MGs.

Winchester 73
April 25, 2008, 11:57 PM
This is my personal experience. When I was in the active duty army I qualified once every 6 months W/ an M-16. That was the only time I ever fired a weapon & I generally scored 25 out of 40 shots ( just enough to qualify). When I got out of the Army and joined the National Guard I was able to purchase my own weapon & practice as much as I pleased & my score jumped up to 35-38 out of 40.

I think my experience proves your therory

I completely agree.During my 6 years of active duty I never scored higher than sharpshooter.
Once in the NG with my own rifle and a lot more range practice and hunting trips I was up to expert within 2 years.

Andrewsky
April 25, 2008, 11:59 PM
Andrewsky

We did NOT, however, have the 1986 cessation of production of transferable MGs.

True. It's not that these laws restrict the development of weapons. A lot of these designers work for large companies. Do you think FN had trouble getting a license to produce machine guns here? No, and I doubt Eugene Stoner had that problem either.

What's more important, is whether or not military-weapons can be sold on the civilian market. I explained the details of this in my original post.

Moonclip
April 26, 2008, 12:07 AM
You have a point but I also find sometimes it is easier to train someone with 0 to little experience to shoot, especialy a female, as they have no preconsieved macho notions they are a master shooter by birth and there is less bad habits to unlearn.

However history sometimes shows us that those with hunting/firearms skills sometimes become great soldiers, both Audie Murphy and Alvin York as examples.

Logan5
April 26, 2008, 12:44 AM
The "previously aquired skills" bit is probably a less important side effect of private firearms ownership. Without a healthy public shooting community, competitions, and the firearms press, we wouldn't have many of the schools we do, or the techniques that have come from them, or probably the kind of exchange of ideas you see today.

RP88
April 26, 2008, 01:17 AM
the 'previous skill' bit may mean nothing if they give you something you have never fired, and they decide to teach your their way, which may be different from your way. Even though this may seem like some egotistical macho thing to say, I would wager that the fundamental difference between someone with shooting and hunting experience and some peasant from Japan whom has never touched a gun or killed an animal is that, well...which one do you expect to be better able to easily adapt to the harsh nature of war, and the other to be a bit of a wuss?

BullfrogKen
April 26, 2008, 01:45 AM
Throughout human history government has always recognized that the private sector had the ability to innovate and specialize better than the military. We can find records of kings inviting renowned swordsmen to teach their sons and bodyguards.

The private sector exchanges knowledge amongst itself better than the military. It retains knowledge better, too. Most servicemen serve one tour or two and return to the civilian ranks.

"Elite units" are susceptible to group-think.

Some of the best firearms the military uses were developed by entrepreneurial effort. Some of the worst were developed by corporations.

Look at the firearms we've used over the past few wars. The M2 .50 cal is still going strong today. The BAR, the 1919 .30 caliber machinegun, the M-1 Garand. The M-60 was a step backwards. I hated it. The Delta model was the more reliable, but even that model was tough to get back in action if a link fell into the receiver. The rails were just too thin.

Can a country produce good firearms in a vacuum of private ownership? Maybe. But when the military sends teams to compete at places like Camp Perry, they aren't doing it to bring home a trophy. They're doing it to interact and learn from the civilian shooting community.

Hell, the NRA was founded by 2 Union Army officers concerned with improving the riflemanship skills of the military by improving those skills among the civilian population. They knew where the recruits come from, and wanted to have a better trained rifleman enlisting for the next war.

Ragnar Danneskjold
April 26, 2008, 01:52 AM
Bullfrogken, what say you of the conditions Kalashnikov had to work under, and yet his design is one of the best?

BullfrogKen
April 26, 2008, 02:06 AM
Even Kalashnikov did not live in a community devoid of private firearms ownership. It is a myth that Russia disarmed its entire citizen population.

bwavec
April 26, 2008, 02:07 AM
One of the best things the current US military could do, would be to put together a high school level riflery/CMP type program, but using the AR platform.

It would give them a way to teach "the military way" and give a standardization of training that could be followed on a national level. And at the same time give them access to a larger potential pool of recruits.

There was a program like that (with way less focus on fire arm skills, and more focus on marching) run by the local NG unit (their CO at the time was a former Special Forces A Team member, who served in Vietnam as a commander of indig forces). Of the dozen or so who entered the program the same time I did, four ended up in the marines, six or seven went army-mostly ROTC in college, one went air force-again ROTC. Not a bad tally out of a dozen potential enlistees. And we shot a couple of times a year.....but not before learning how to field strip and care for an M16, .45 & M60 (yes we actually got to handle real deal Army weapons).

Of course this was back in the early 80's....the gung ho Regan era. The liberals, peaceniks and other bed wetters would go bananas over something like this now..... But it would provide a large number of people with a standardized level of firearms training.

On a very different thought......a lot of the current "accessories" that are fielded on the military weapons (grips, optics, etc) were conceived and developed outside the military structure, and adopted by the military once they were a completed design.

Logan5
April 26, 2008, 02:38 AM
I'd still say it's not the point to teach "the military way" to everyone, it's to have your military taught guys compete against the civilian competitors, with their crazy new theories and absurd gadgets... Then you skim off whatever shows an edge in competition, and make it "the military way". Rinse, repeat.

bogie
April 26, 2008, 02:40 AM
More importantly, concerning a lot of stuff I've seen on this forum in the past year, the military and police don't really have a great deal to do with civilian firearms ownership.

Guys, you do NOT have to be a soldier or a cop if you want to get into target shooting, or if you are concerned about protecting your family.

You do NOT have to enlist if you want to go to Camp Perry. The only difference between you, and the military competitors, is that you are paying for your own ammo bill.

Zoogster
April 26, 2008, 01:13 PM
Most new and innovative steps forward in firearm design have come from the private sector. Sometimes a larger company then picked up those ideas and took them forward, sometimes the private individual couldn't fund anything, went bankrupt, and someone else came along and applied the information from thier patent later on.
However a large number of new technology comes from the private sector. The military and many others tend to stick with what works, and make slight improvements sometimes. That is great, but if something in the private sector shows a lot of progress it can be tested and will often be implemented at some point.

The military has lost a lot of its unique source of improvements with the NFA and the '86 ban on machineguns. Yes a corporation that already exists can make safe similar designs to tried and true designs which are sure to sell, but the radical improvements by some guy tinkering in his garage, or people learning to become profecient in designs as a hobby before being hired by a company are gone.
Someone like John M. Browning would not likely have legaly tinkered, came to be noticed by manufacturers and ended up doing very much in modern times.
Today he would have been put off by various costs, needing to pay taxes just to test a possible theory, and other hassles. He could have not just tinkered and built freely going with his ideas because he would have found himself in possession of illegal firearms. Even the very first gas activated autoloading firearm he made was full auto.

However almost all military small arms designs originaly came from civilian designs. Some were then improved upon, using new ideas available in the civilian market.
Many gun manufacturers recieve most of thier funds from civilian sources. The funds that keep them running and operating when a military contract falls through, and times are tough.
This keeps competing sources for firearms and ammunition production available to the military in the future, rather than them going bankrupt and causing there to be little future competition.

Just look the nations that have eliminated thier civilian markets. They have little ammo production for even thier own military and depend on foriegn sources for many things as thier companies dry up.

The civilian market is a steady large dependable market. The military market has massive contracts on occasion and nothing other times. The military can also flake on you, after promising you a contract, having you dump many millions into a design that they assure you is going to be used, and suddenly dumping you. Without the civilian market to then turn to, that would be devestating.

So almost all military small arms technology came from technology originaly designed by and for civilians. Some of that technology was then legislated away from civilians, but that is where it started, not the military. Most improvements to aging designs since legislated splits between the two markets have also come from the civilian market. The military invents very few new things for itself, or even supplies itself with very much. Most of it comes from competing civilian bidders.
So it is changing needs and improvements in civilian designs that allows new technology to emerge. The civilian market is so large that it allows various nitch markets to test things out. The military has very little of that. A product either has a massive contract, or does not warrant existence.

So without the civilian market the military would find itself with few competing sources, costing them more money to get things done, and leaving them with little new technology or design improvements to implement.

Soybomb
April 26, 2008, 01:32 PM
I don't think it means much today.

-Small arms are developed in the private sector and these can be used by the military. The best example of this that I can think of off the top of my head is the weapons developed around the American Civil War. Almost every repeating weapon and certainly the originals were designed in the private sector and used in great numbers by both sides during the War. Think Colt and LeMat revolvers, or Spencer and Henry repeating rifles.
And private companies still produce weapons that they don't intend to sell to the general public. How long did it take to get a full length barrel p90 out, look at HK, etc. There's so much fat cash in leo/mil that its a market any company would want to target.

Some troops enter the military with previously-aquired skills. The first of these skills is obviously marksmanship and familiarity with weapons. The second is field and hunting experience, which often goes along with gun ownership. These skills can be taught by the military but in crises they are indoubtebly valuable. An example of this might be the differences between a Japanese draftee and an American draftee during World War II. While I don't have any real sources to draw on, one would think, that on average, the American would enter military training with far more knowledge of weapons and fieldcraft than the Japanese soldier would.
No doubt its ideal but I'd be very surprised to see that any really significant number of people joining the services today are practiced marksmen. Just like with police, a gun may be part of the job but it doesn't mean they're gun people.

Chipperman
April 26, 2008, 01:40 PM
Guys, you do NOT have to be a soldier or a cop if you want to get into target shooting, or if you are concerned about protecting your family.

But the Brady Bunch told me if I wanted to shoot Assault Weapons, I should join the Military. Now I'm confused. :confused:





:barf:

Erik
April 26, 2008, 04:40 PM
Military wise, I think shooters are a strength to be relied on and a lack of shooters a weakness to be overcome.

Moonclip
April 26, 2008, 05:35 PM
Also being an accomplished shooter/hunter is not always going to produce a good infantryman. Deer don't shoot back:)

I think some of it is growing up in a tough or hardy enviorment, where shooting the deer isn't for sport, where shooting the deer means not going hungry. That builds character/toughness I'd say!

I think your average suburban raised,coddled from birth US male is all else considered equal not going to be as good a soldier as someone raised in a more poorer or rural enviorment.

This obviously is just an assumption and there wil be exceptions. The Pre WW2/WW2 Japanese army kicked ass and took names thru much of Asia for a time and I'm sure most of those conscripts didn't have too much pre war gun experience.

I think a lot of that was culture and upbringing.

jnyork
April 26, 2008, 05:40 PM
Three or four years ago I remember the results of a DOD survey which discovered that out of every 100 military recruits into the US Armed Forces, only 3 or 4 had ever had a firearm in their hands. Pretty sad.

Moonclip
April 26, 2008, 06:06 PM
Also rember the old studies by I think General S.L.A. Marshall that showed only a somewhat smal percentage of men will actually fire their weapons when in combat.

Anti gun attitudes persist even in the military. In the USN unless a SEAL or in certain fields that may require it, it is common for people to go YEARS w/o firing a weapon.

I rember the XO of a shore base I was on not wanting or allowing gun magazines in the NEX because they were "violent"!

GEM
April 26, 2008, 06:23 PM
Didn't Glock come of the blue specifically for an Austrian Army contest for a new firearm? Now, we can buy them here.

The XD's were developed for the Croatian military first. The 50 BMG round was military but Barrett spread it to civilian usage.

You see a lot of back and forth crossover.

The 40 SW round was developed for LEOs.

Moonclip
April 26, 2008, 06:29 PM
Yes the Glock was pretty much a new civilian idea though Gaston Glock IIRC did start off selling the Austrian Army shovels and knives and such.

Usually the military round of a country becomes popular with it's citizens if allowed to own guns partly because oll the time and money the government can spend designing a good round.

Example include .30/06, 7x57, 6.5x55 Swede, 7.5x55Swiss,all good rounds.

RoadkingLarry
April 27, 2008, 12:02 AM
The example of SGT. Alvin York comes to mind.

And...

What was the original intent of the CMP?

velobard
April 27, 2008, 12:23 AM
Just my simple input to the original question, I see it as a positive for the very reasons that were listed. My son just finished basic training and on his first trip to the range with the M16 he qualified expert with 39/40. I started him off plinking in the desert with my 22 rifle when he was 4 years old. He kept it up, and I'd have to say it looks like it paid off and gave him a decent head start.

Andrewsky
April 27, 2008, 12:53 AM
That makes me grin velobard.:D

You sent them a ringer.:evil:

woodybrighton
April 27, 2008, 06:22 AM
well most uk soldiers do not touch firearms before they join the army and they manage to acquit themselves in battle fairly adequately :D
ok we still go in for bayonet fighting but thats cultural innit get close and kick the **** out of the enemy

John-Melb
April 27, 2008, 10:31 AM
What effect does civilian gun ownership have on military capability?

In answer to that question, I suggest you read the history of the 2/2 Indepenent Company on Timor in 1942.

Most of the members of that unit were recruited from rural areas of Western Australia, generally they were farm boys familiar with firearms. A number of them had been professional "roo shooters" before the war.

Using the military tactic of "shoot and scoot" they raised merry hell with the Japanese Army for over 12 months. This force, which never numbered more than 350, fought a guerilla war, much of that time without any outside support, which tied up 15,000 experienced Japanese troops desperately needed elsewhere.

Wasn't there a study done by the US Army in the sixties which found unit's which had a high proportion of soldiers previously familar with arms were more likely to take their objectives and suffered fewer casualties?

gym
April 27, 2008, 08:13 PM
So a question comes to mind, Did we have an advantage over the Socialist and Communist regimes of old, because of our countrys hunting and outdoor activities. Or did all those Germans, Japaneese and Russian soldiers, have similar upbringings? Did the French hunt, or just piss off the animals till they surrendered?

GRIZ22
April 27, 2008, 09:59 PM
Marksmanship and fieldcraft have some bearing on military capability but not as much as many think. Modern warfare is a very technical field and the ability to use technology is very important. More important is the ability to adapt to changing situations, work in a unit, innovativeness, and be able to be successful at multi-tasks.

I knew many guys in the military that could shoot well, start a fire with two sticks, and build a condo with a pocketknife but when it came to other things they were dumber than sled dogs. You seem to get an equal number of country boys (shooters, campers, hunters, etc) that make good soldiers or marines as you do city boys. Each has to learn different new skils in the military.

Kino74
April 28, 2008, 12:04 AM
I can say from personal experience in the military that those with firearm experience prior to military service were far and away the best shooters. I can also say from personal experience with a few friends of mine that became cops that those who had familiarity with firearms definitely were better shots.

velobard
April 28, 2008, 10:39 AM
That makes me grin velobard.

You sent them a ringer.

The lousy part of it is that the whole deal is that when they went back to the range to let the straglers qualify his M16 jammed several times and he wound up with a lower qualifying score. Of course they take the most recent qualifying, not the highest during training. At BCT graduation (just 10 days ago!) the Soldier honored for the highest qualifying score in the company during training was a guy who got 37/40. Just to rub it in a little, the program said 39/40, my son's score, although they did announce it correctly from the podium.

My son also had a little fun during training when they had a moving vehicle on a track and told him to give them a warning shot to with the .50 cal, as if it was a threatening vehicle approaching a checkpoint. It was at about 200 meters and moving toward him. With one shot he blew out both tires on the left side of the car and watched it veer off the track. He said the DS just looked at him and said, "Well, no one's done that before. I guess you got them to stop, all right."

frogomatic
April 28, 2008, 10:49 AM
I remember seeing an interview with Chuck Yeager, he was talking about WW2 pilots, and according to him the pilots that shot down the most planes were almost exclusively from rural backgrounds, and had grown up hunting, and understood how to lead a target.

EricTheBarbarian
April 28, 2008, 11:11 AM
carlos Hathcock started shooting and hunting at an early age. He's an example that comes to mind.

GEM
April 28, 2008, 12:23 PM
I've read that the variance in ace pilots is more a personality and aggressive attitude. Some folks who qualified very well in training went on never to hit anyone in a dog fight.

Probably both contribute.

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