Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun


As the highest military commander
of the Netherlands, with troops stationed around the world, I’m really honored to be here today. When I look around
this TEDxAmsterdam venue, I see a very special audience. You are the reason why I said yes to the invitation to come here today. When I look around, I see people
who want to make a contribution. I see people who want
to make a better world, by doing groundbreaking scientific work, by creating impressive works of art, by writing critical articles
or inspiring books, by starting up sustainable businesses. And you all have chosen
your own instruments to fulfill this mission
of creating a better world. Some chose the microscope
as their instrument. Others chose dancing or painting, or making music like we just heard. Some chose the pen. Others work through
the instrument of money. Ladies and gentlemen,
I made a different choice. Thanks. Ladies and gentlemen … (Laughter) (Applause) I share your goals. I share the goals
of the speakers you heard before. I did not choose to take up the pen, the brush, the camera. I chose this instrument. I chose the gun. For you, and you heard already, being so close to this gun
may make you feel uneasy. It may even feel scary. A real gun at a few feet’s distance. Let us stop for a moment
and feel this uneasiness. You could even hear it. Let us cherish the fact that probably most of you
have never been close to a gun. It means the Netherlands
is a peaceful country. The Netherlands is not at war. It means soldiers are not needed
to patrol our streets. Guns are not a part of our lives. In many countries,
it is a different story. In many countries,
people are confronted with guns. They are oppressed. They are intimidated — by warlords, by terrorists, by criminals. Weapons can do a lot of harm. They are the cause of much distress. Why then am I standing before you
with this weapon? Why did I choose the gun as my instrument? Today I want to tell you why. Today I want to tell you why I chose the gun
to create a better world. And I want to tell you
how this gun can help. My story starts in the city of Nijmegen in the east of the Netherlands, the city where I was born. My father was a hardworking baker, but when he had finished
work in the bakery, he often told me and my brother stories. And most of the time, he told me this story
I’m going to share with you now. The story of what happened when he was a conscripted soldier
in the Dutch armed forces at the beginning of the Second World War. The Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Their grim plans were evident. They meant to rule by means of repression. Diplomacy had failed to stop the Germans. Only brute force remained. It was our last resort. My father was there to provide it. As the son of a farmer
who knew how to hunt, my father was an excellent marksman. When he aimed, he never missed. At this decisive moment in Dutch history my father was positioned
on the bank of the river Waal near the city of Nijmegen. He had a clear shot at the German soldiers
who came to occupy a free country, his country, our country. He fired. Nothing happened. He fired again. No German soldier fell to the ground. My father had been given an old gun that could not even reach
the opposite riverbank. Hitler’s troops marched on, and there was nothing
my father could do about it. Until the day my father died, he was frustrated
about missing these shots. He could have done something. But with an old gun, not even the best marksman
in the armed forces could have hit the mark. So this story stayed with me. Then in high school, I was gripped by the stories
of the Allied soldiers — soldiers who left the safety
of their own homes and risked their lives to liberate a country and a people that they didn’t know. They liberated my birth town. It was then that I decided
I would take up the gun — out of respect and gratitude
for those men and women who came to liberate us. From the awareness
that sometimes only the gun can stand between good and evil. And that is why I took up the gun — not to shoot, not to kill, not to destroy, but to stop those who would do evil, to protect the vulnerable, to defend democratic values, to stand up for the freedom we have
to talk here today in Amsterdam about how we can
make the world a better place. Ladies and gentlemen, I do not stand here today
to tell you about the glory of weapons. I do not like guns. And once you have been
under fire yourself, it brings home even more clearly that a gun is not
some macho instrument to brag about. I stand here today to tell you about the use of the gun
as an instrument of peace and stability. The gun may be one of the most important
instruments of peace and stability that we have in this world. Now this may sound contradictory to you. But not only have I seen with my own eyes during my deployments in Lebanon, Sarajevo and as the Netherlands’ Chief of Defence, this is also supported
by cold, hard statistics. Violence has declined dramatically
over the last 500 years. Despite the pictures
we are shown daily in the news, wars between developed countries
are no longer commonplace. The murder rate in Europe has dropped by a factor of 30
since the Middle Ages. And occurrences
of civil war and repression have declined since the end
of the Cold War. Statistics show that we are living
in a relatively peaceful era. Why? Why has violence decreased? Has the human mind changed? Well, we were talking
about the human mind this morning. Did we simply lose
our beastly impulses for revenge, for violent rituals, for pure rage? Or is there something else? In his latest book,
Harvard professor Steven Pinker — and many other thinkers before him — concludes that one of the main drivers behind less violent societies is the spread of the constitutional state and the introduction, on a large scale, of the state monopoly
on the legitimized use of violence — legitimized by a democratically
elected government, legitimized by checks and balances
and an independent judicial system. In other words, a state monopoly that has the use of violence
well under control. Such a state monopoly on violence,
first of all, serves as a reassurance. It removes the incentive for an arms race between potentially hostile groups
in our societies. Secondly, the presence of penalties that outweigh the benefits
of using violence tips the balance even further. Abstaining from violence becomes more profitable
than starting a war. Now nonviolence starts to work
like a flywheel. It enhances peace even further. Where there is no conflict,
trade flourishes. And trade is another important
incentive against violence. With trade, there’s mutual interdependency
and mutual gain between parties. And when there is mutual gain,
both sides stand to lose more than they would gain
if they started a war. War is simply no longer the best option, and that is why violence has decreased. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the rationale behind the existence
of my armed forces. The armed forces implement
the state monopoly on violence. We do this in a legitimized way only after our democracy
has asked us to do so. It is this legitimate,
controlled use of the gun that has contributed greatly to reducing the statistics of war,
conflict and violence around the globe. It is this participation
in peacekeeping missions that has led to the resolution
of many civil wars. My soldiers use the gun
as an instrument of peace. And this is exactly
why failed states are so dangerous. Failed states have no legitimized,
democratically controlled use of force. Failed states do not know of the gun
as an instrument of peace and stability. That is why failed states can drag down
a whole region into chaos and conflict. That is why spreading the concept
of the constitutional state is such an important aspect
of our foreign missions. That is why we are trying
to build a judicial system right now in Afghanistan. That is why we train
police officers, we train judges, we train public prosecutors
around the world. And that is why — and in the Netherlands,
we are very unique in that — that is why the Dutch constitution states that one of the main tasks
of the armed forces is to uphold and promote
the international rule of law. Ladies and gentlemen, looking at this gun, we are confronted
with the ugly side of the human mind. Every day I hope that politicians,
diplomats, development workers can turn conflict into peace and threat into hope. And I hope that one day
armies can be disbanded and humans will find a way
of living together without violence and oppression. But until that day comes, we will have to make ideals
and human failure meet somewhere in the middle. Until that day comes,
I stand for my father who tried to shoot the Nazis
with an old gun. I stand for my men and women
who are prepared to risk their lives for a less violent world for all of us. I stand for this soldier
who suffered partial hearing loss and sustained permanent
injuries to her leg, when she was hit by a rocket
on a mission in Afghanistan. Ladies and gentlemen, until the day comes
when we can do away with the gun, I hope we all agree that peace and stability
do not come free of charge. It takes hard work,
often behind the scenes. It takes good equipment
and well-trained, dedicated soldiers. I hope you will support
the efforts of our armed forces to train soldiers like this young captain and provide her with a good gun, instead of the bad gun
my father was given. I hope you will support our soldiers
when they are out there, when they come home and when they are injured
and need our care. They put their lives on the line,
for us, for you, and we cannot let them down. I hope you will respect my soldiers, this soldier with this gun. Because she wants a better world. Because she makes an active
contribution to a better world, just like all of us here today. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun

  1. war stories are the poison that creates gun reverence,..soldiers are installed, indoctrinated murderers,however noble n brassy their war stories.

  2. Up until the US Civil war the US government did not have a real reason for concern with it's citizens owning guns. In fact there were more than one incident when it came in handy. As it continues to exert more control over it's citizens, the obvious solution is gun control to enforce the mind control. The government thoroughly understands gun control begins with a good sight picture.

  3. A very noble position to take but not all countries have the same objectives.
    The USA has a massive armaments industry which is required to make a profit for their shareholders.
    The US Secretary for Defense has very strong links with the defense industry, so will he look for peace throughout the world or to make vast profits for his friends still in the armamnets industry by going to war with Iran?
    Time will tell.

  4. Murder has declined because the main ressources shelter and food are more available and because of the development of societies in the last few centuries. If you take a look at the murder rates the countries like the US where guns are easy available are the highest in the world. That´s a fact nobody can deny.

    All in all poorness is one of the most effective drivers for violence and every kind of extremism. Think about that when you take a look around and judge people being good or "evil".

  5. This was such a touching speech and so full of truths that's so many, apparently 2.7 k as of this post, don't understand

  6. Everyone in that audience looked scared. All Americans watching that video were wanting to try the rifle, and buy it.

  7. I'm shocked that neither the general himself nor any of the top commenters mentioned the shameful, cowardly failure of the Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica, who let 8 thousand of the people who trusted in their protection to be rounded up and slaughtered. Forever shaming the Dutch military and their constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law.

  8. I want to slap the guy on his phone that can’t take the time to enjoy a great speech in Amsterdam that so many people would love to see in person. Just like the gun the internet shares the same contradictions.

  9. a government has a monopoly on violence….that's all fine and dandy until the government turns corrupt…then the people are fucked

  10. I don't necessarily view government agencies and World Police organizations as the only "legitimized" users of firearms. If this were actually the case there would literally be no United States. Have we gone along with the British government, and surrendered our weapons because they are the only ones allowed to legitimately have them, I would be drinking tea instead of coffee and saying God save the queen….. I sincerely agree for the most part with what does gentleman had to say about the weapons being used as a shield to protect people who cannot protect themselves and to enforce peace where needed. Where we part ways however is the fact that more than 144 times throughout history governments have turned on their own population in order to enforce their will.. there is even a term for it, that term is democide. When you consider that nobody knows how many people died under Mao, and that's solid estimates Place Joseph Stalin's kill rate at 122 million of his own people…..Hitler over 6 million….. the list goes on and ON. I feel it is not only every citizen's right to own a firearm so long as they are not a dangerous criminal or mentally unstable I feel it is their RESPONSIBILITY. when a government makes war on its own people the only way to ensure your freedom is to be armed with the same weapons as the current standing military to the best of your ability. that is exactly what the founding fathers had envisioned after coming out have an impressive situation with a vastly superior military force that was government-backed. Is my personal opinion that the right to the people to keep and bear arms is not necessarily a suggestion so much as it is a DIRECTIVE, so then our citizens can maintain their own Freedom as is their responsibility. so that our citizens won't be mowed down like those poor students in Tiananmen Square who everybody seems to have forgotten. Those poor students who were armed only with rocks. Further in a time of War a well-armed population will be able to Aid in the defense of our nation we won't just be sitting there on our thumbs enjoying the marching formations and all the pagentry like this gentleman's father with the old gun that couldn't even shoot across the river. Obviously this last statement was hyperbole, but you get the point
    As a law abiding citizen, trained former soldier and true defender of my fellow citizens and the constitution against all enemies FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, my use of a firearm within the law is NO LESS legitimate. It is my RESPONSIBILTY and i will gladly shoulder my share of the burden and more.
    Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.

  11. The unease of the audience when the General held the weapon was palpable. That is exactly how tyrants should feel when considering suppressing the rights of free men and women who are ready, willing and capable of defending those freedoms.

  12. I wish people in the united states mainly California had this guys mind set. But no we have mental people who cant decide if their a girl or man or a fucking new creature and cry about litterly everything. California is not for the people anymore but out for them selfs. One day their will be a war against these governments. We need another george washington to help reunite the people.

  13. His comment says something that most millennials just do not know that men from the USA, Canada Australia and a few other countries VOLUNTEERED to leave their homes their families and their safety to risk and for msnybto give their lives for the freedom and liberty of people they had never met and did not know. What an honorable thing to do.

  14. I have one issue with his speech. The state monopoly of violence, what happens when the state becomes the bad guy?

  15. As a gun owning American, I'm well aware that there are countries who's citizens do not have the same freedom to do so, but seeing the reaction of that room to the rifle was downright bizarre. It's an inanimate object that will never hurt you without human input. It really speaks to the power and effectiveness of anti-gun propaganda.

  16. This is the first time I have watched this video, and the first time for having the privilege of hearing this gentleman's elegant speech filled with logical reasoning. Not a single hint of intent to promote, or persuade anyone into supporting some type of nefarious underlying agenda. This may be my first time watching, and listening to this very well done video, but certainly will not be my last.

  17. A state monopoly on violence is great until the state oppresses it's citizens. The founder's of the constitution were brilliant for recognizing the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right. An armed citizenry is not only a deterrent to abusive governments, it's also a deterrent to foreign adversaries that may decide to invade the USA. 100 million gun owners and over 300 million privately owned guns should deter any bad actor that seeks to harm it's citizens or invade. This also serves as a warning to those who believe in repealing the second amendment and confiscating guns in the USA. You'll get bullets before you get guns.

  18. Even if we came together as one nation for the human race, I think we would still need a army force just in case of aliens invading us.

  19. This guy is full of crap.

    His father was given a old gun?

    Guns don't fail because they get old.

    And when they fail, they don't shoot with less force.

    They explode the receivers or barrels… they don't "shoot, but can not reach" that is utter garbage….

    And this nationalistic nonsense about "legitimate" force is a crock as well.

    Every individual has the God given right to defend himself regardless of the nation state that he lives under.

    Very disingenuous this man is

  20. I own several firearms. They are tools. I have a shotgun for snakes, a .50 cal for mountain lions, and an ar15 for pretty much everything else.

  21. Guns for peace, some of the most peace abiding country's maintain a armed public each adult has one for peace. So it's from education and training that a peaceful law abiding public can only be achieved with service in the milatery for self control (also those with mentally ill people earnt armed and they get the help they and protect everyone else by doing this.

  22. A truly inspiring, rational and sincere talk, Sir. Thank you, Mr. van Uhm.

    Now if only the usurious, war-profiteering International Bankers in the City of London & Wall Street (who, among other things, financed Hitler's rise to power, do a search) could be persuaded to refocus their machinations upon something more mutually beneficial than subjecting citizens to debt slavery via the private control of national money supplies, such as space exploration & colonization aimed at preserving mankind's long-term existence–instead of promoting endless wars for monopoly resource control and pursuing global dictatorship ambitions…

  23. The last Words should have been heard by the german Ministry of defence lead by Ursula Vonderleyen… she destroyed the german army from inside out, by simply giving them the worst equipment…

  24. You had me until you said that the government having a monopoly on the use of force is a good thing. History has shown time and again that when only the government has guns, there is nothing standing in its way of oppressing the people.

  25. He believes that violence has been minimized due to "A state monopoly that has the use of violence well under control." Wrong. "My soldiers use the gun as an instrument of peace." Liberals and totalitarian states love these liberal military officials. Imagine Hitler rubbing his hands together with glee the day he took power, knowing that the Weimar Republic had enforced firearms registration in 1928 and again in 1932. It was all there: names, addresses, type of firearms. And he wasted no time in going after Jewish, trade unionists, socialists, communists and others.

  26. His father was an excellent marksman, because he was a farmer. One wonders, if the same laws restricting ownership now were in place then, whether he would have had those skills to defend his country.

  27. So basically: the state should have a monopoly on violence so we can stop other states from being violent. But you don't need a gun because that would be bad. Only the ruling class should have guns you plebs.

  28. A speech that gun-haters need to hear and a lesson that our liberal politicians need to learn: guns are not the problem, evil people are.

  29. Yeah this is all bs. There is a differnece between picking up a gun to stop crimes as an executive Instrument withhin your Country borders and to pickup a gun to support the miliary-industrial complex. This guy has either remained naive throughout his entire life or is an armed forces PR gag.

  30. I've only pointed a gun at a human once in my life. The man I shot survived and went to prison. He came into my store with a compound crossbow and intended to kill. Not a robbery. Murder was his plan. Only a gun was able to stop him because he was without logic, reason or respect for others. Fortunately, he was the only injury that horrific day.

  31. 9:30 Ask the People in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia etc if they think the same. „Statistics have shown…“. Ridiculous. He picks out those countries who have secured their „rights“ to rule, or help rule, over others in order to secure resources.
    As far as it goes the Netherlands are NATO members and thus just another warmonger supporter.
    He compares his father, who chose to fight enemies who were already invading his country, with him and his comrades who are invaders in another country.
    Keep your brainwashed opinion for yourself. And stick this instrument of yours where the sun don’t shine. I don’t believe you.

  32. Where he got that bipod grip though. I searched up bipod grip and I only got the standard issued bipod. Where he got his.

  33. If you live on earth and are simply too scared of weapons to ever use them, you will, unless others are willing to protect you, be someone's slave…read history

  34. Alot of USamericans in this comment section seems to have completely missed the point.
    He is not saying that any random person should walk around with a pistol under the armpit. He is saying that the gun have its place and purpose, wich is in the hands of trained professionals. Soldiers who protect peace, not Henry the Hillbilly who consider himself a "good guy with a gun".

  35. If someone attacked me, regardless of what they attacked me with, I would protect myself. I can understand not using weapons like rockets or bombs, because that could very easily injure or kill innocents along with the attacker. If people will attack, people will defend themselves. As long as there are disagreements, there will be violence, and there will always be disagreements, so there will always be violence. As long as there is violence, there should be self defense to allow people to protect themselves. Sometimes, someone trying to kill you is only a few seconds away, while the police are minutes away. Is that person just supposed to die waiting for the cops? Or should they be allowed to protect themselves?

  36. I understand the principle, but invading Afganistan was just serving corporations, bad example indeed, most terrorist crapp is false flags to.justify spendings

  37. This video brought tears to my eyes. As I listened to this honorable speak of his father and reasoning behind why he chose the tool he chose, to make a better world. Some of my tears were for his love of his father. Some were for the fact that he needed to make that choice. Still others were because, I chose the brush, as that is gift. A gift that, like many before me, seems to be wasted on the vast and mindless majorities of the world. If I knew then, what I know now, I would choose differently. As a hunter, I am dalso a famn good shot. Since I don't hunt for sport, fun, or excitement, the lives that I took always had meaning. I always felt their deaths and never trivialized them. Nor did I glorify myself, for the taking of those lives. I honored their lives, even as I took them. NI would have chosen the gun as my instrument.

  38. I love how he talks about the greatness of “guns for safety” while the US actually does have guns, and is plagued with school-shootings, wallmart-shootings and all over records of homicides by firearms.
    No, the gun doesn’t bring peace and safety. Of course it doesn’t. The idea itself is laughably absurd. It’s like saying that more sweet candies make people healthier. This is a joke.

  39. well yeah – in a country like the netherlands what he says makes sense. But in a country like the USA who has abused it's armed forces for financial and influential gain of its elites his words do not apply! The USA might have been honorable back then during the times of WWII but since cuba and vietnam their only interest ist money and power and not defending peace, the vulnerable or its population – they are a "corporatocracy" serving the will of the economical elites and have nothing to do with a democracy any longer…every american soldier should be aware of this and quit as soon as he can! And any american soldier that is aware of this but still chooses to serve should be ashamed of himself to be a worthless puppett to a greedy government serving only its own purposes! As for civilized countries with legit democracies – armed forces for defense purposes are fine.

  40. Please stop exporting guns to other countries. Just look at my home country Germany. The government still allows 98% of all guntrades to unstable – or even to countries who are involved in war. Please start at this point and just stop it. I know you stand there with your gun. But please top gun trades.

  41. This TED talk does not speak to the individual need of a gun, but does speak to the current need for guns. Very interesting and excellent NEUTRAL talk… by The Netherland's Senior Warrior who sounds a lot like a statesman… Well done.

  42. Yeah no, this is so much bullshit
    we are not more peaceful because all people in america have guns, we have peace because of mutual destriction. The bomb to wipe out our whole city in seconds, dropped from a satalite from space at any moment is what keeps nations at bay.
    The murder rate in europe has not dropped because more people own a gun in every country, it has dropped because it takes a special type of person to actaully commit such a crime and often times it's rather sloppy, so police will track them down fast and put them to jail before they can do more harm, this is why there are almost not more serial killers in todays world. It's hard to optain weapons for mass killings in europe unlike the US

    . If politics fail and we are going into war the goverment will supply it's army with weapons thats not a fucking shotgun to hunt rubber ducks and or a 9 mm pistol. The main army won't run around with civilian revolvers into battle and allowing civilians to own such weapons that actaully fit into an army for the posibility of a god damn blitzkreig war is unlikely.

    Lets look at america, they have more guns than people, how fucked up is not that? now look at the statistics, america has a mass shooting every day, every fucking day. Lets look at texas, the state where almost everyone own multiple guns, lets go back a few weeks and see that 20 people died because of of some teen.

    Prevents hostile groups? what? since fucking when did guns prevent conflict between hostile groups?

    This guy

  43. It will always needs a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.
    The rest of his speech was nothing than propaganda for the "failed state" No.1 in the world. The US.

  44. The Dutch colonized Indonesia for 350 years and butchered the local with their "instrument of peace". Guns were used to forcefully take resources that they did not own.

    The Chinese, Indians, and middle eastern chose to trade with Indonesia instead of using force.

    So no, you are not the victim and no guns are not the main reason why the world is a better place. It's fair Trade.

  45. Our first President, George Washington cited the critical need of the Continental Soldiers Rifles.
    Defeated Japanese Admiral after WW2, was asked why they didn't advance in California, and he said because of all the armed citizens behind every blade of grass.
    All Dictators must disarm citizens before they think of defeating us.

  46. Pretty funny how reading in this comment section wants me to smack some Americans….

    Never ever have I seen so much ignorance in a Country like America….

  47. "Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun" – Chairman Mao. Government monopoly on guns is a monopoly on political power. Hence the indispensable need for the rights described by the Second Amendment.

  48. In this day and age, liberal democrats will say he's a priveledged white male that is racist for wishing to defend his homeland….

  49. I honestly can not believe that he used his grandfather as an example. The freaking Nazis were the perfect example of a "state monopoly on violence"…democratically elected…the only reason the nazi's invaded you in the first place is they wanted to "help" you see their state was right…

  50. Every single nation in history that has created a "monopoly of violence" of the state..has used that monopoly to use violence to oppress it's own people. EVERY one! It is remarkable he would use his grandfather and the nazis as an example when the nazis are a prefect example of what happens when the citizens elect and hand over that power to the state. They oppressed their own people…who'd have guessed 🤦🏼‍♂️

  51. ''Why I choose the State' would be a more accurate title and proclamation.  

    It saddens me to see this man, in the autumn of his life, dressed in a State uniform with little coloured badges —such a poor substitute for an individual identity— worshiping the State. Yet I can understand why he clings to and justifies it; oh, the reeling pain he would feel were he to reject the statist doctrine with which he sent his only son to his death in Afghanistan.  

    He does not speak of individual freedom, of non-aggression and the right to self-defence; he talks of the State and its self-proclaimed monopoly on the legal initiation of violence. This video offers a sad, yet poignant, view —of a an old idea, whose time has come to cede to better, moral one.

  52. Luke 22:36 "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

  53. The REPUBLIC of TEXAS.
    No democracy is complete without a bit of cannibalism after a murda by a clintonite democrat super predator.
    DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS.

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