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One of the odder books in my library is a small volume published in 1984 (!) titled, “What to Do When the Russians Come.” It has all sorts of useful advice on whose ass would be in the sights of the KGB (just about everyone’s), what life would be like, how to stay out of prison, avoid a pistol bullet in the back of the neck, and so on. This is nothing new. In World War II, there were all sorts of “what to do when the Germans/Japanese invade” fantasies floating around, and none of them came to pass.

Possibly the finest expression of invasion paranoia was the movie “Red Dawn,” which also came out in 1984, and was a huge commercial success, although a dreadful film. In the movie, the United States was invaded by the Soviet Union, with some help from the Cubans. In real life at that time, the U.S.S.R. was busy getting its ass kicked in Afghanistan, and had only a few more years to exist, much less occupy the U.S.A.

All this comes up because I got a reader question asking if it was a good idea for everyone to keep a rifle of military caliber in his or her home to guard the country against invasion. As Jules said in “Pulp Fiction,” permit me to retort.

If you want to go up against a modern army, a military rifle by itself is not going to help you much. The only two industrialized countries that I know of that require military arms at home are Israel and Switzerland, and those guns are limited to reservists who have had military training. Since both countries have nearly universal military training, all those guns in all those homes would be a considerable factor if they were invaded.

Here, only one percent of our population puts on a uniform. Bear in mind that it takes roughly a year of intensive training to produce a competent soldier. When my company graduated from basic, which lasted two months, the colonel commanding said, “Congratulations; you’ve just made it through the third grade.”

A competent fighter must be young (old men can’t hack it), in good physical condition, familiar with weapons and tactics, and above all ready to kill. Our society does not produce such people. Last summer, we were informed that 75 percent of Americans of military age would not be able to pass the entry-level Army physical. If you can’t do a pushup or walk more than a mile, a rifle in the closet will not help when the invasion comes.

Some countries do breed warriors. Practically from birth, Afghanis run up and down mountains and shoot anyone they don’t like. This culture produces highly effective guerilla fighters. But it is not our culture.

In the 21st century, if you want to keep a military rifle in the home, you are more likely to find yourself using it against your fellow citizens than an invading army. This past week it was announced that California, our most populous state, is nearly out of water, and has no clue about how to cope. What happens when it’s all gone? What happens when Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, and Nevada also run dry? It is well to remember that what is now the Sahara Desert was once a forest.

What do you do when the guy trying to kick down your door is not from Odessa, Russia, but Odessa, Texas, and only wants to fill up his water cans because he and his family are dying of thirst? No one has made a movie about that.