A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. — Amendment II, US Constitution
America’s political system, a republic – or a democratic-republic to be exact, is a fragile enterprise. Despite the test of time, Americans still quibble over central tenets of the system. Specifically, the issue of gun control remains up for debate. The recent shooting in Oregon displays this is still a present danger. It’s heartbreaking to see the faces of victims and bystanders after such senseless murder. Any sane and moral person’s heart goes out to those lost and their families.
Coming at this from a Christian worldview, however, makes it clear why focusing on the weapon used in the wake of such a travesty distracts from the true problem. There is no such thing as gun violence; the only type of violence is violence itself. And it was part of the world long before guns were invented. Since time immemorial, humans have wanted to prevent danger from occurring. In drafting the Bill of Rights, John Adams said:
To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government.
Adams knew the importance of owning weaponry, leaning on John Locke’s thesis that the right to self-defense (protection of one’s intrinsic and extrinsic property) was the first right and the basis for all other God-given rights. To these men, gun ownership was an insurance policy againstrunaway violence and America’s founding documents reflect this perspective.
Yet even if we come to the consensus that gun ownership for the protection of one’s self and property is vital to a free society, the issue becomes the specifics of weaponry used. One common argument along these lines that I encounter with Fabian-Socialists (I guess we have to call them “progressives” these days) is the following: “If you can own whatever weapon you want, what is to prevent you from owning an atomic bomb?” The question is a red herring, preventing the real argument at hand from being pragmatically discussed. Those who lean more conservative in the United States fall into a similar trap as well when trying to discuss gun control. Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson had this to say when asked about his view on the ownership of semi-automatic weapons:
It depends on where you live. I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon might fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it. If you live out in the country somewhere by yourself, I have no problem.
All the hyperbole, sidetracking and overgeneralization aside, the only question that should be asked is this when discussing the issue of self-defense and the right to bear arms, is the following: “Do people have the right to protect themselves from aggression or not?” If the answer is “yes” it cannot logically be followed with the words “but” or “except,” since limiting the technologies used for the protection of oneself infringes on the right to effective self defense.
History bears out the importance of this right. Why else would Hitler disarm the German people prior to the Holocaust? Why do gun free zones in the United States ultimately fail to prevent guns from being involved as tools in crime? Heck, maybe if some lowly, goat herding, Yazidi man had owned that figurative atomic bomb we mentioned earlier, we wouldn’t have seen an entire category of human beings wiped off the map in Iraq thanks to ISIS.
But the most important lesson to realize about the right to bear arms is that it isn’t only important for the villainized “1%, those with property to protect, the State, or only select individuals, it’s asAyn Rand once stated, for the individual:
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
A study in the United States from Gun Owners of America shows this to be true in terms of groups of people exposed to violent crime at greater rates:
Women increasingly carry guns and hold more than a quarter of concealed-handgun permits. Since 2007, the number of permits among men has grown by 156 percent, and among women by 270 percent. There is also evidence that minorities are catching on to the benefits of concealed carry. Blacks now make up 7 percent to 8 percent of permit holders, but their rate of increase is double that of whites.
Other studies show as well that there is a strong correlation between massive gun ownership and a significant drop in violent crime, showing that this an effective method for dealing with increased risk. No matter how much risk one faces in society, if we cannot defend ourselves from aggression in whatever form it comes in, no other God-given rights matter, because our rights can only be expressed freely when we have the capability, in any way, shape, or form, to protect ourselves when needed. Simply put, free people are the militia, and we have the obligation to God and to ourselves to ensure a secure civil society for ourselves and our posterity, by any means necessary.
Originally posted at studentsforliberty.org. Written by Remso Martinez.