“You can not invade mainland US, because there is a rifle behind every door”
This quote has long been attributed to Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, as an argument against invading the United States. It has long been used as a basis for Gun Rights advocates to strengthen the argument of an armed populace against a tyrannical foe.
But the simple fact is, Yamamoto never said that. What he did say was this:
“Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?”
Isoroku Yamamoto spent quite a bit of time in the United States. He attended Harvard University for two years, was twice posted as a naval attaché’ to Washington DC, and spent much time traveling in the US learning our customs and business practices. There is no doubt that he was exposed to the gun culture of the US at that time. So the erroneous quote of a gun behind every door (or blade of grass as sometimes quoted) is not a far fetched notion of his thoughts. In his council of having to fight all the way to the White House, and the sacrifices he alludes to bear striking resemblance to the very real situation we faced at the end of World War II, when we knew we would have to fight an armed populace in an invasion of mainland Japan.
But just how real is that threat? Is there a gun behind every door, or every blade of grass? How formidable is our actual armed populace?
I decided to look into this notion because of a conversation I had with a good friend who lives in Colorado. He challenged me to look at the number of hunters that were in the field on opening day, and contrast that with the number of hunting accidents. The thought process being that America has not just a high number of gun owners, but a large number of RESPONSIBLE gun owners.
So I did.
I used the deer season in Missouri for 2012 as a data point. In Missouri, only one “Buck” or “Any Deer” tag can be purchased by any individual for the season. This is called the Resident Firearm Any Deer Hunting tag. Any number of Antlerless tags can be purchased, but only one Any Deer tag may be used. That number is staggering: 276,379.
I’m going to use this number to make two points. First, let’s look at it from a standpoint of the responsible gun owner.
A call to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Hunter Safety Division provided me with the total number of what they call Hunting Incidents for that year. Now, we must qualify that figure. It includes such things as falling from a tree stand, ATV accidents, as well as firearm accidents. In order to break it down further, I would need to submit an Open Records request. But I have chosen not to. Because I don’t think it’s necessary to prove my point. The total number of incidents in Missouri in 2012 was a whopping 35. Of that 35, 4 were fatal.
Opening day sees the largest number of hunters in the field. It also produces the largest number of incidents. Using the data raw, if 276,379 hunters were hunting on opening day, and there were 35 incidents, we can conclude that the hunters, the gun owners in the field with loaded guns are an extremely safe and responsible bunch of guys and gals. The incident rate is just a hair over .01%.
The other point I want to make goes back to the misquote of Adm. Yamamoto. Consider the number of Firearm Deer Tags issued that year: 276,379.
It is a safe assumption that this represents at least one firearm to each individual who purchased a tag. It’s a good starting point. The fact is, the number is probably far greater here in Missouri. It does not take into account those gun owners who do not hunt. Nor does it take into account the hunter who owns more than one gun. But let’s put that number into perspective.
156,000 – Number of Allies who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6th 1944.
70,000 – Number of Marines who invaded Iwo Jima
45,000 – Total strength of an Army Corps
Getting the picture yet?
Here’s another analysis. The estimated population of Missouri in 2012 was 6.024,522. With at least 276,379 gun owners, that amounts to 4.5% of the population armed. At least. It is said that the colonist who actually fought for independence during the revolutionary war was only 3%. I’ll let you think on that.