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What effect does civilian gun ownership have on military capability?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Andrewsky, Apr 25, 2008.

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  1. Andrewsky

    Andrewsky Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  2. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Member

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    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?
     
  3. Treo

    Treo member

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    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
     
  4. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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    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?
     
  5. Andrewsky

    Andrewsky Member

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

    So that wouldn't be an issue.
     
  6. Rumble

    Rumble Member

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    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.
     
  7. PTK

    PTK Member

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    Andrewsky

    We did NOT, however, have the 1986 cessation of production of transferable MGs.
     
  8. Winchester 73

    Winchester 73 member

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    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.
     
  9. Andrewsky

    Andrewsky Member

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    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.
     
  10. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    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.
     
  11. Logan5

    Logan5 Member

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    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.
     
  12. RP88

    RP88 Member

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    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?
     
  13. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    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.
     
  14. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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    Bullfrogken, what say you of the conditions Kalashnikov had to work under, and yet his design is one of the best?
     
  15. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    Even Kalashnikov did not live in a community devoid of private firearms ownership. It is a myth that Russia disarmed its entire citizen population.
     
  16. bwavec

    bwavec Member

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    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.
     
  17. Logan5

    Logan5 Member

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    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.
     
  18. bogie

    bogie Member

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    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.
     
  19. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    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.
     
  20. Soybomb

    Soybomb Member

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    I don't think it means much today.

    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.

    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.
     
  21. Chipperman

    Chipperman Member

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





    :barf:
     
  22. Erik

    Erik Member

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    Military wise, I think shooters are a strength to be relied on and a lack of shooters a weakness to be overcome.
     
  23. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    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.
     
  24. jnyork

    jnyork Member

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    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.
     
  25. Moonclip

    Moonclip Member

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    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"!
     
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