Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 419, May 27, 2007

"What is ad hoc government?"


by L. Neil Smith

Liberator pistol

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Back in the early months of World War II, some Grinchy genius had a wonderful, awful idea, based on the principle—not considered radical then—that the best way to fight oppression is to arm the oppressed.

A contract was issued to the Inland Guide Lamp Division of General Motors to design and manufacture an extremely inexpensive, highly effective. . . well, call it a "zip-gun" that could be air-dropped by the hundreds of thousands into areas of Europe the Nazis thought were well-secured.

The result was the FP-45 "Liberator" pistol. You can see and read about it here. It was a single-shot weapon chambered for .45 ACP, the same cartridge used by the government-issue Colt 1911A1 pistol, but made entirely of cheap stampings and lathe-turnings. It had an unrifled barrel, and came in a box with a nice handful of cartridges and a two-sided comic sheet of instructions.

One side of the "Wordless Workshop" comic showed how to load the Liberator. Pull back on the thing at the rear and turn it to the left. Lift the gate at the back of the barrel (which also served as a rear sight). Stick a cartridge in, close the gate, and turn the thing at the rear back to the right. You're now ready to shoot. The trigger guard wraps around the front of the barrel and serves as a front sight.

Having shot, pull the thing back again and turn it to the left. Lift the gate. Poke the fired cartridge case out with the stick provided, or anything else handy, like a pencil. Then reload and shoot again.

The other side of the comic showed how to use the Liberator. Sneak up on a German, shoot him under the edge of his helmet in the back of the head, throw the Liberator away, and take the German's 8mm Mauser rifle. (My bet is that nobody ever threw the handy Liberator pistol away.)

The cost of the Liberator, plus its packaging, was a little over two dollars. Inflation being a measure of the greed and dishonesty of politicians, I am ashamed to say that the same weapon today would cost over twenty dollars. Over a million were made, and the idea was to drop them to partisans in sufficient numbers to give the Germans—even those who didn't get shot as the instructions showed—a real headache.

It is about here that the official stories diverge. I had grown up all my life hearing that the Liberators got duly dropped, some were used, the rest vanishing deep into barns and cellars, hidden from the mostly communist governments that came to replace the Nazis. Today, a Liberator in good condition will fetch around $2500 from collectors because most of them, presumably, are still hidden in those barns and cellars.

According to, however, most of the Liberators didn't get dropped. The OSS, into whose hands the project was placed, never really understood the idea (I knew a few of those guys when I was a kid, and they were neither brain scientists nor rocket surgeons) and the guns were eventually destroyed. Or given to the Philippines. Or something.

I don't believe it. I think the whole project became an historical embarrassment for an increasingly anti-gun US government. It couldn't have made us terribly popular with various totalitarian bosses in east Europe for whom it would have been a constant thorn in their sides. Yugoslavia's Josef "Tito" Broz would have been an exception. He wanted his people armed so that the Russians couldn't move in on him. At one point, he even had all of the nation's firearms registration records destroyed, making it virtually impossible for an invader to confiscate weapons.

But, as usual, I have digressed.

It's impossible to tell how much the course of World War II—and subsequent history—was changed by the Liberator Pistol program, but I find myself thinking more and more lately about what it could do now.

You see, in the unintended consequences department, the United Kingdom presently finds itself in a bit of a mess. At one time, it was regarded as the most peaceful and law-abiding nation in the world, second, perhaps, only to Switzerland and Japan. Americans were always razzed for our high crime rate, and certain impolite and certainly untrue comments were made about how many guns are in private hands here.

In the 1970s, I was married to a young lady who had gone to high school and college in England, so when we visited there in 1976, as a gunsmith and reserve policeman, I got an extra scoop or two at every meal.

Well, as Waco Willie Clinton might say, there is truth, and then there is truth. It all depends on what you mean by "is". Even back in the 60s and 70s, there were indications that the British government—like all governments everywhere—was a pack of liars. I noticed right away that when it served their agenda to count the activities of the Irish Republican Army, for example, as crime, they counted them as crime. When it served their agenda to count them as war, then war they became.

I also noticed, perusing a police display of weapons seized from the IRA that the government said had been sent by all those gun-crazed Irish Americans, that with the exception of one battered old S&W Model 10, probably left over from the American generosity of World War II, all of the guns, two dozen or so, were from Soviet-bloc countries like Czechoslovakia.

Lies, lies, and more lies.

And then came 1996 and Dunblane. We're all too familiar with the scenario. Some nut shows up at a "gun free" (meaning freefire) area like a school and shoots a whole lot of extremely photogenic victims—little kids are always a good choice—before very conveniently self-destructing, in this case by eating his .357 Magnum revolver. It's positively amazing how these events seem to happen just when the legislature is considering more illegal limits on the right to own and carry weapons (a right inherent in the English people no less than the Americans).

Propelled by one Anne Pearston, a sort of Sarah Brady on PCP, an obsessed wreckage of a human being who can't be criticized in her own nation due to libel laws meant to stifle free speech, and whose reason for living appears to be rendering her fellow Britons (whom she must secretly hate, loathe, and despise) helpless in the face of criminal violence, virtually all guns were outlawed in the UK, to the extent that the British Olympic team must store their weapons and practice in Europe.

Even then, that alcohol-soaked wife-beating old douchebag Sean Connery whimpered because Brits could still own single-shot pellet guns.

And the unintended (but, in some quarters, hardly unanticipated) consequences? Britain went from having the lowest crime rate in the European-inhabited northern hemisphere to the highest, overnight. Which means that the explosion was just too huge to lie about. It seems that even the miniscule threat represented by the few weapons—long-barrelled shotguns, mostly—Brits were allowed to have before Dunblane, was keeping the crime rate down. Take it away, and Old Blighty was suddenly an even more dangerous place to be than the South Bronx.

Their record has only been beaten by Australia which, following a similarly contrived massacre in Tasmania, outlawed all weapons—the fellow after whom "Crocodile Dundee" was modeled was murdered by the police because he wouldn't give up the weapons it was his basic human right to own—and now has the highest violent crime rate in the world.

Well, I have a solution to this mess; it would work with America's crime-ridden inner cities as well. In fact, we could test it there first. Most folks don't know that if you remove the liberal-controlled city cores from crime statistics, that America is the most peaceful, productive place on the planet. It is only where the victim-disarmers hold sway that violent crime is—and always has been—out of control.

But again, I have digressed.

We've made a very great deal of technical progress since the early days of World War II, and I believe that a modern incarnation of the Liberator Pistol could probably be made for under ten dollars. Given modern super polymers, the thing could even be made invisible to metal detectors. I'm willing to bet there are hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals more than willing to pay for this historic effort.

Package them and, after a test in New York, New Jersey, Detroit, or Los Angeles, drop hundreds of thousands of them on England. Crime rates, of course, will immediately plunge, and the government will have to explain why it hasn't anything to do with guns in private hands.

While it scrambles fruitlessly, trying to round them all up.

When it works, we'll drop another load on Australia.

Tally-ho! Yoicks and away!

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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