English on the Internet - English Magazine

Guns and Revolutions

October 14, 2000

I imagine that many of you will have been watching TV reports or reading newspaper articles about the recent Serbian revolution. I feel that one of the more interesting aspects of this revolution is the fact that it was achieved largely without bloodshed - without guns.

In fact, most of the recent eastern-European revolutions where brought about through "people power" - mass demonstrations, strikes, pickets and the public's non co-operation with the state. In each case, few or no weapons of any kind were used. Going back further we see that Gandhi's peaceful approach freed India from British rule.

In each case an oppressive state was overthrown in a non-violent way. Now compare these with the situation in Ireland. In Ireland it is a long-held belief that the public should be allowed to bear arms to protect themselves against foreign invaders. With so many guns in circulation, is it any surprise that they've had a century of bloodshed? Hundreds of people shot dead in sectarian min-wars.

And what of America? The American constitution states that the public has the right to raise armed militia during times of crisis (foreign invasions, oppressive governments, etc). Unfortunately, this has historically been misinterpreted to mean that the public has a right to own and bear firearms. Look at the results: the highest murder rate in the western world and regular massacres across the land. And when playground squabbles turn into pitched gun battles (several in recent years), even one's children aren't allow to learn and play in peace.

The recent Serbian revolution is just the latest proof that oppressive governments can be overthrown peacefully and without guns. The "times of national crisis" and "oppressive government" excuses have "worn thin" and it is "high time" that they should be given up (please excuse the pun) "lock, stock and barrel".



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