The Shogun’s Choice

Why do we find it so difficult to ban assault rifles in private hands?

9 min readNov 4, 2023

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Setting: The court of Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi in Osaka Castle, 1588.

Characters:
Hideyoshi — The Taiko, Shogun of Japan
General Yamada — Supreme Samurai General
Miyoko — Senior advisor advocating confiscation of firearms
Tamura — Senior advisor advocating banning firearms
Blackburn — The Portuguese Ambassador
Matashichi — Leader of NMA, the National Matchlock Association
Yoshi — Representative of the matchlock-makers guild

Hideyoshi: I am troubled by the recent mass murder in a children’s school. It is the 6ooth this year. I invite your counsel regarding firearms spreading through my realm.

Miyoko: Wise Shogun, please order confiscation of all matchlocks. The peasants cannot be trusted with such weapons.

Tamura: I agree. Ban matchlocks entirely to avoid uprising and unrest.

Matashichi: I would urge caution in your decision, oh great Taiko. Banning matchlocks would destroy many livelihoods. The firearms help peasants defend your lands. They give you added strength against your foreign enemies. None would dare invade us knowing that every family possesses such weapons, which require no special training.

General Yamada: That is exactly the point. No special training. If I may, great Lord. At Nagashino, Takeda Katsuyori’s finest samurai charged and were mowed down. Sixteen thousand died. Where was the honor in that? Lord Odo commanded mere peasants.

Matashichi: These were not mere peasants, my Lord General. Having trained for years for this moment, Oda’s top riflemen could hit the hole of a coin from 500 feet. They could hit a selected target 100 times out of 100. For sport, they would…

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Albert Bates

Emergency Planetary Technician and Climate Science Wonk — using naturopathic remedies to recover the Holocene without geoengineering or ponzinomics.