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Email: A Little Gun History

October 20, 2009 1:12 pm ET

The following email has been widely forwarded and has been reposted numerous times on conservative blogs.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.

A Little Gun History

[note - all mistakes below are original to the text]


Wow, the Swiss sound like they have it made!  I had to find out if the Switzerland stats are really true. 

A quick internet search proved that old adage: "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." 

I found out that Switzerland has a system called conscription, which requires every male Swiss to endure 21 weeks of basic military training beginning between the ages of 19 and 25 and lasting up until the age of 35 or 50. More strict than the U.S. Military Reserves or National Guard, under conscription, the Swiss will spend "the next 22 to 32 years...[in a] succession of two- to three-week training camps...until he's accrued 300 to 1,300 days of active service."  The Swiss government does allow every soldier to keep "his military outfit, his weapon, and war ammunition at home at all times...[but] the ammunition shall only be opened in case of war." So, what good is having a lot of guns in a lot of houses, if you can't use the ammo?  

And until 1996, if you refused to join the Swiss army, the government would put you in jail. Now, the government will allow a "conscientious objector" to serve in a non-combat capacity (although the website notes that this isn't common).  And don't think you can move out of the country or flunk the required military physical and get away with not giving the army its due:  "if declared unable for service, a citizen must serve on the civil protection...and pay a military substitute tax (3% of total gross income)."

Holy socialfascimarxicommunism, Batman! It appears there is a trade-off for having government-issued "guns in [many] home[s]": "the next 22 to 32 years" of your life in the military.

But that's not all that this "Little Gun History" lesson leaves out. also debunks the claim that the Japanese did not invade America because they knew Americans were armed:

"One of the more fanciful claims in the message is that during World War II "the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!" In fact, according to the U.S. Army's Center for Military History, Japan in World War II had set its sights mainly on Asia; its attacks on U.S. military targets were intended to clear the way for Asian conquests...Japan had no thought of invading the U.S. mainland, and the idea it was deterred from such an invasion by fear of homeowners with guns in their closets is historically absurd." also researched the other claims in the email:

"As for the other claims, we talked to Dr. Robert Spitzer, a political science professor and the author of "The Politics of Gun Control" and two other books on gun control legislation. Spitzer called the e-mail "a cartoonish view of the complex events" regarding the rise of Nazi Germany, the Cambodian mass killings and the other events that the anonymous author attributes to gun laws. "The people who write these things don't know comparative politics, they don't know international relations, they haven't studied war," Spitzer told us.

We have no doubt that Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot tried to keep guns out of the hands of ordinary citizens. But that doesn't mean that gun control necessarily leads to totalitarian dictatorships. This reasoning is a classic example of the fallacy known as "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" - "after this, therefore because of this." The fact that one thing happens after another does not mean that there's any causation involved. And that rule would apply to anyone making an argument completely counter to that of our e-mail author, as well."

And rest assured, you're not the only "firm believer" in the 2nd Amendment.  I found a video of President Obama promising "I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away."

Watch it yourself:

So, there you have it: gun control doesn't automatically equal a dictatorship, the Swiss way of life may not be for everyone, and Obama's not taking away our guns. Let's learn all the "history" before we forward these on in the future.


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