I am a 2nd Amendment fundamentalist. The right to life and liberty is not something that one has because of the benevolence of one’s potential aggressors but because one has the power to resist aggression and tyranny. The greatest danger to one’s right to life and liberty is from the state because the state has a legal monopoly on the initiation of force, which it frequently exercises without any moral or ethical justification.
The primary reason for having arms to protect oneself is not because it deters the garden variety burglar (although that is a definite benefit) but because it puts the state on guard that it better behave or else.
It’s important to note that the “right to keep and bear arms” is not granted to the people by the constitution. It exists prior to the constitution. The 2nd amendment merely prohibits the government from infringing upon that right. We have to keep in mind that the constitution is about rules that relate to the government, not the citizens. It defines what the federal government must do and what the government is prohibited from doing. The latter bit is the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments to the US constitution. The sweetest words of the US constitution are “Congress shall make no law …”
Rights entail responsibilities. It is the responsibility of citizens to protect their right to life and liberty, and therefore they must have the means to do so. Anyone who gives up the responsibility of protecting himself surrenders his liberty.
The citizens of countries that allow their governments to disarm them are not free in any meaningful way. Their freedom is tentative, contingent, provisional and is granted to them only at the pleasure of their rulers, to be denied to them at their masters’ whim.
What about the enormous number of gun-related deaths in the US compared to other developed nations? Yes, that’s a cost. That’s the trade-off. Nothing comes for free, and most certainly freedom is not free. You could take your chances with random acts of senseless violence or you take your chances of ending up in gulags. People choose differently and that’s fine with me. My position is that I don’t want to depend on the benevolence of others — least of all the state — to protect my freedom.
I approve of this brief April 2021 essay in AIER by Richard Ebeling titled “Armed Self-Defense is Essential in a Free Society.” Quotes:
But what is an ordinary person to do when he finds out that it is the government that is the perpetrator of violence and aggression against him and his fellow citizens? How do you resist the power of the state? Tens of millions of people were murdered by governments in the 20th century. They were killed because of the language they spoke or the religion they practiced. Or because those in political control classified them as belonging to an “inferior race” or to a “social class” that marked them as an “enemy of the people.” Furthermore, the vast, vast majority of these tens of millions of victims were murdered while offering little or no resistance. Fear, terror, and a sense of complete powerlessness surely have been behind the ability of governments to treat their victims as unresisting lambs brought to the slaughter.
Part of the ability of government to commit these cruel and evil acts has been the inability of the victims to resist because they lacked arms for self-defense. However, when the intended victims have had even limited access to means of self-defense it has shocked governments and made them pay a price to continue with their brutal work.
Ebeling concludes his essay with —
… let us remember and stay loyal to the sentiment of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, who praised his fellow countrymen when he said, “Americans [have] the right and advantage of being armed – unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
Let us remain worthy of Madison’s confidence in the American people and defend the Second Amendment of the Constitution upon which part of that confidence was based.
The right to keep and bear arms is an important right worth defending with one’s life.
Just BTW, I don’t own any guns. But if it ever happens that the 2nd Amendment is in danger, I will go out and buy a pile of guns.
2 thoughts on “Opposing Gun Control”
While I can understand the reason, is it not too high a price to pay for some 30,000 deaths a year by guns?
Interesting question. Just so that we understand the relevant numbers — how many guns, how many deaths due to gun homicide, how many deaths due to gun suicide, the racial breakup of gun homicides, etc. — see this, this and this. I don’t have the time to summarize them here, and I assume that those interested in the numbers would read those brief pieces.
The price we pay for anything depends on our cost/benefit calculation. Is a car-insurance premium of $100 per month worth it? It depends on the “expected cost” of an accident in relation to the insurance coverage. Expected cost is computed as the product of the probability of an accident and the cost of an accident. If the probability is 0.001 (one in a thousand), and the cost incurred in an accident is $1000, then the expected cost is $1. So $100 premium is not worth it. But if the probability of an accident is 0.01 and the cost of an accident is $100,000, then the expected cost is $1000. Then the premium of $100 is worth it.
In a similar manner, we have to calculate the expected cost of disarming the population. The probability of state tyranny may be low but the cost may be exceedingly high. Sure, 40,000 gun-related deaths per year looks horrific (nearly half of which are suicides) but how bad would it be if the state kills 10 million of its own citizens with a probability of 0.0001 (one in 10,000)? States do do that, you will have to admit. The Chinese and Russian states killed tens of millions of their own citizens in a few years.
There are much safer ways of reducing gun-related deaths other than wholesale disarming the citizens. Get rid of the “war on drugs” for a starter. For context, read what happened with the “war on alcohol” (prohibition or the 18th amendment) and how the 21st amendment fixed that. Then one could have better back-ground checks, and better education on how to use guns.
One final point that I will not elaborate on in this comment. The probability of state tyranny is not independent of whether the citizens are armed or not. In economics jargon, state tyranny is endogenous; it arises from within the system considered and is not externally determined.
There’s a lot more to be said about this topic but not in this comment.