The right to keep and bear arms is probably the most contested – and, sadly, the most successfully infringed – of the various guaranteed liberties explicitly named in the Bill of Rights. But as many have said these last couple of months, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the value and merit of our Second Amendment. One of the things the Founders took into consideration was that arming the people makes for a secure nation.
Not so sure that’s true? Despite two world wars, nine other officially declared wars and myriad military “conflicts” on foreign soil, the Cold War, and some terrorist attacks here and there over the many decades since, the United States has not faced a full-scale invasion by a foreign power since the War of 1812 – which we won. Yes, geography, America’s military might, and international politics play a large part in that. But none of those considerations – especially not America’s then-unformidable “military might” – stopped the British from attempting to reconquer this land twice, only to fail both times.
A Walk in Ukraine’s Shoes
But let us put ourselves in the shoes of the Ukrainian people for a moment. What would happen if we didn’t have two vast oceans or Earth’s most powerful navy at our command separating us from Europe and Asia? What if we didn’t have the third-largest army by active-duty troops in the world? The latest from Reuters has the total death toll of the Russia-Ukraine war at no fewer than 46,000. Another 12,000 have been injured but not killed, 400 or more are missing, and a whopping 13 million Ukrainians have been displaced.
As Liberty Nation previously reported, Ukrainian citizens enjoyed no right to self-defense before the invasion:
“For years, the people of Ukraine have been forbidden the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Rifles and shotguns for hunting could be obtained, if the police agreed to issue a permit, but handguns were banned entirely. Then Russia invaded, and the government decided that maybe folks ought to defend themselves, after all.”
Before the invasion, there were around a million registered firearms in Ukraine. That’s one million out of 41.4 million, which comes up to just shy of 2.5% of the population. As we asked at the beginning of this war, “what if Ukraine had America’s gun stats before Putin attacked?”
America’s True Might – We the People
When estimating the number of firearms owners in the US, the go-to has been Gallup’s 2020 poll, which resulted in 1,035 interviews – a fairly average sample size – between September 30 and October 15 of that year. It found that 32% claimed to personally own a gun, while another 12% – for a total of 44% – live in a gun household. But according to the 2020 Census, there were 258.3 million adults in the country, so how does that scale? Let’s look at a newer study, Centiment’s 2021 National Firearms Survey, which was conducted between February 17 and March 23, 2021, and boasted a sample size of 54,000 US residents aged 18 or older. The results? Quite consistent with Gallup’s findings months earlier. About 31.9% of respondents personally owned a firearm. Additionally, the average number of guns reported per armed household was five. If we apply the numbers from these two surveys to the Census data, we see that there were most likely just north of 80 million gun-owners in America, possessing a total of somewhere in the ballpark of 413 million guns.
Even with the more conservative 393 million estimated by the Small Arms Survey to be in civilian hands in 2018, that’s still more than enough for the other 11% to 12% of American adults who don’t own their own weapon but live with someone who does.
As mentioned previously, the US has the third largest active-duty military in the world. The other nine in the top ten – China, India, North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, South Korea, Vietnam, and Egypt, respectively – would boast a combined 8.7 million troops, which barely breaks 10% of the armed civilians in our own nation going by gun owners, and falls somewhat short of even that when we add in the other 30 million or so adults who live in a house with a gun owner, giving them theoretically easy access to a firearm. If the U.S. military decided to sit out the conflict, a coalition of the other nine largest militaries in the world still couldn’t field as many armed bodies – even if they included their reserves and paramilitary personnel, leaving nothing for defense of the homeland – as we already have just by virtue of being America.
But we don’t have to stop there. Let’s pretend that none of the 185 other countries – some of which, in fact, don’t have standing militaries at all – fall below Egypt’s 438,500. Even in this pretend world, there would still be fewer active-duty troops in all nations combined than there are armed civilians in the U.S. If nations 11 through 195 matched number ten exactly, the rest of the world would only tie the number of America’s armed civilians.
So where would Ukraine be with America’s gun stats? Well, 32% of 41.4 million would be almost 13.3 million. And not only would they have handguns and long guns designed for more than just hunting, but many would have self-defense and perhaps force-on-force training as well. Even without this, the military and civilian fighters, both newly armed and more experienced, have managed to hold out against an invasion that was supposed to be over and done with inside a week – but only at the cost of thousands of lives lost and nearly two thousand buildings leveled across numerous cities. So, how would Ukraine have fared in the invasion had they America’s gun culture? Trick question: The invasion would likely never have happened.