Taiwan Will Not Survive Unless Interior Ministry Starts Issuing Gun Permits

by Vern Evans
In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, Taiwanese artillery guns fire live rounds during exercises in 2021. (Military News Agency via AP)

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Amid controversy over funding for border security, Ukraine and Israel, one item in the mix that’s getting less attention is Taiwan.

Because there’s not an active war between the Republic of China government on the island and the Chinese Communist Party on the mainland at present, it’s on the back burner. But, with public opinion shifting, American appetite for war going down and an incoming administration that both doesn’t seem to like them and probably won’t go to bat for them (assuming this isn’t a bargaining play of some kind), Taiwan’s defensive needs are very likely to slip off of the American stove entirely in early 2025.

While Taiwan doesn’t presently appear to stand much better chances than Ukraine without U.S. assistance, the costly nature of a sea invasion (in terms of both CCP money and Chinese lives) and the fact that key industries like chipmaking would be destroyed would likely keep an invasion from happening in the short run. But, the pressure for a “peaceful unification” (done under threat of a mutually destructive war) would be immense, and an invasion could become less costly if Xi Jinping can fix the PLA’s military corruption issues.

So, basically, anything that Taiwan’s leaders can do to make an invasion more costly either prevents an invasion from happening, or at the very least gives them a better seat at the bargaining table in future peace talks.

Obviously, many Americans feel like it’s not our problem, and I’m not going to even try to change minds on that. Instead, I want to focus on some things I’ve learned about that could give the country a better chance of standing on its own two feet without costly U.S. assistance. Whichever side of the issue you’re on, I think most would agree that more self-reliance would be a good thing.

The Self-Defense Guns Control Act

I’ve seen a number of U.S gun control activists hold Taiwan and Japan up as the utopia the United States could become if we’d just do things their way. After all, most countries in the region have strict gun control laws, and crime is super low, right?

But, like many things anti-gun people say, that’s not entirely true. Crime is really low in Japan and Taiwan, but it’s not because guns are utterly unavailable. Criminals always find ways of coming up with them, obviously, but there are also plenty of ways to build your own, such as the electronically-ignited zip-gun used to kill former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, or more sophisticated things like 3D printing (guns like the FGC-9 have been found in both countries).

The sad fact (at least for us in the States) is that people get guns in those places but generally don’t do sick things like shoot up schools and churches with them. So, we’ve clearly got some serious work to do fixing hearts and minds in the United States.

Another partial lie is that Taiwan has strict gun control, but a simple search of Taiwan’s laws shows that there’s a “shall issue” concealed carry permitting system in the law. But, nobody knows about this because the police and consulates simply don’t give you an application form unless you’re a diplomat or someone they really like. At least one citizen (non-citizens are eligible, too) has sued over this and the case didn’t go anywhere. I’m personally in the process of trying to get an application by way of complaint with the Control Yuan, a government watchdog and ombudsman office that comprises one of the ROC’s five branches of government.

Those who get a license are eligible to have a rifle or a pistol and a limited supply of ammunition for it, plus a shotgun (among some other weird or archaic guns). A household with two eligible adults can thus obtain a rifle, a pistol and two shotguns between them. This is obviously a lot more restrictive than American law, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing.

If the executive branch could do the right thing and issue licenses, it would go a long way toward improving the defense situation for Taiwan. The proverbial “rifle behind every blade of grass” is of obvious benefit in an invasion scenario, but just the threat of that would be enough to prevent an invasion due to the impossibility of occupation.

Perhaps more importantly, it would signal to the United States that Taiwan wants to implement a serious asymmetric warfare strategy and that people are willing to fight for themselves instead of making Americans die for them. With that skin in the game, the United States (especially Republicans) would probably be more willing to help.

All of these benefits would come without the government having to spend a dime. Civilians would be able to pick up the slack here.

Obviously, opening up the licensing process would only be step 1. People would need to purchase their own guns, so the import process needs to be streamlined unless everyone’s going to build an FGC-9. After purchase, Taiwan would definitely need more civilian instructors to help get people up to speed. Sadly, this includes people who did a few months of mandatory military service in the past, when the training was a bad joke.

But, none of this requires a change to the law or government spending, which would have to go through parliament. A simple regulatory change that allows people to submit applications is all that’s needed.

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