are military weapons used to kill other soldiers or civilians?

What is the probability that a weapon, such as a rifle, tank, or plane, will be used to kill or injure a civilian? What is the probability that the same weapon will be used to kill or injure an enemy soldier?

The answer probably depends on the time period. From the 1800s to the mid-20th century, states fought each other via mass formations of soldiers. Maybe the average gun shot other soldiers. Since the mid-2oth century, we’ve seen lots of wars of decolonization, civil wars, internal repression, and genocides. States just don’t fight each other the way they used to.

Even recent American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show the shift. The US Army may have killed more Iraqi and Afghanistan civilians through collateral damage than actual al-Qaeda and Taliban. And we’re the good guys! The US has rules about minimizing civilian casualties. The average government in the world may not even care about such niceties. Was the average gun in Syria or Libya used to fight invaders or repress protesters?

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Written by fabiorojas

July 26, 2012 at 12:01 am

2 Responses

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  1. From Ayn Rand Answers: the Best of Her Q&A, edited by Robert Mayhew © 2005 by The Estate of Ayn Rand.

    Q: What is your opinion of gun control laws?

    A: I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it is not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, non-criminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It is not an important issue, unless you’re ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn’t very practical. [Ford Hall Forum, 1971]

    Q: What’s your attitude toward gun control?
    A: It is a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people — they are not carried for hunting animals — and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is going to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.
    [Ford Hall Forum, 1973]

    When I discussed gun control with my Objectivist comrades, overwhelmingly they said that this was obvioulsy and error in Ayn Rand’s thinking. One of them even claimed repeatedly that she was against guns because she lived in Marxist urban environmnets and adopted a Marxist view of guns.

    Myself, I like to think that just as humans developed tools, language, counting, science, and trade, eventually, we will abandon sickness, injury, ignorance, and violence. … When Ephraim Cochrane launches his warp drive and the Vulcans make first contact, we might actually be ready. In the mean time, we have all the horror and sorrow.


    Michael E. Marotta

    July 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

  2. […] He reports on a simple question: are military weapons used to kill other soldiers or civilians? […]


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