Firearms in the Hands of a Philosopher

in freedom •  2 months ago

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I am not a gun expert. This past weekend my family traveled to West Virginia from my home in Indiana to visit my wife’s father and his wife. While we were there another relative arrived. He, on the other hand, knows a lot about firearms. He knew that I was a Libertarian and that the Libertarian Party supports the right to bear arms. His intention was to shoot with us. After unloading his 7 firearms, and I have no idea how much ammunition, he, my wife and I set out for a good time target shooting. It became clear very quickly that, though we support gun ownership, we were completely clueless to the weapons themselves. This whole experience inspired me to write this post. I think that the conversation about firearms needs to be put into perspective. My support for the right to self-defense has nothing to do with a love of weapons or even the want to be prepared; it has to do with my understanding of Natural Rights.

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Those who have read any of the things I have written either for me or for my friend Adam Kokesh, know that much of my philosophy is founded in an understanding of history. I have studied lots of figures in the past who have impacted the present Freedom Movement. My love of these figures started with Thomas Jefferson and led me to first Thomas Paine and then to John Locke.

Locke’s philosophy on government was founded in the belief in Natural Rights. He talked about many of these rights but what is important for this particular post is his opinions on property. Yes, weapons are property, but it is more important that they give the individual a means to protect his property. Many people argue that criminals can be deterred by a weapon. Though that certainly is true, the true criminals that are prevented from taking your property are those in the halls of government.

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Thomas Jefferson said, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear their government, there is tyranny.” The right to bear arms is not and never has been about hunting or preventing your neighbor from stealing your stuff. It is about making it clear to the forces of violence, namely the state, that we as individuals will maintain our property including our other rights of speech, the right to assemble, or more importantly the rights to the most important piece of property, the right to self-ownership.

Because the above sentence includes things covered in the Bill of Rights, I feel as though I need to clarify. Rights do not come from government or any document. The purpose of the first ten amendments was an attempt to protect those rights and restrain government. Many people talk about gun rights in terms of the 2nd amendment. I do not. The Constitution of this country was groundbreaking when it was adopted and it certainly shows a step forward towards a truly free society when compared to the other governments of the time. That being said it is still a document which enshrines force and coercion. It has shown to be ineffective to protect the sovereignty of the individual. The 2nd amendment is one of the best proofs of this failure. The wording of it is pretty simple.

“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.”

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I want to quickly take that apart. The first word that gives us trouble is militia. Because the meaning of words change over time, many lawyers have used that word to argue that what was intended was some sort of police force or worse the National Guard. James Madison, the author of the Constitution, defined militia in Federalist 46. His definition was “citizens with arms in their hands.” This definition seems pretty simple.

The next issue I have is “free State.” Governments are in the business of controlling your actions, so the idea of an individual being free while also being controlled by a small group of individuals through the use or threat of violence does not make sense. It is my belief that the intent of “free State,” was in comparison to the other countries around the world. Most of these “States” were certainly despotic by comparison so I accept that the government talked about in the 2nd amendment was a freer State.

The most important part of this small statement is the last four words “shall not be infringed.” The definitions that Google gives for the word infringe are-

  1. Actively break the terms (a law, agreement, ect.)
  2. Act so as to limit or undermine (something), encroach on.

Either definition implies that there cannot lawfully be ANY gun laws. Compare that to the reality in this country. This is the response you get when you ask Google, 20,000. This is taken from an article from Quora. The real answer is no one knows because the amount of gun laws from the federal government to each local government is too numerous to count, so much for “shall not be infringed.”

My point in writing this post is not to convince anyone of the lack of the validity of gun laws or even the Constitution. What I hope to accomplish is to show that you do not have to understand how to take apart a weapon, or use the right terminology when describing your support of gun rights. To properly understand this right is as I stated in the beginning. Without our right to self-defense all other rights will be trampled over by any government. They will have nothing stopping them from forcing you to submit to whatever measure they wish to take. Ron Paul, in Liberty Defined, says,

“Tyrants from Hitler to Mao to Stalin have sought to disarm their own citizens, for the simple reason that unarmed people are easier to control.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano in his book “It is Dangerous to Be Right, When the Government is Wrong,” continues this idea. He says,

“In modern society, where the natural law has been perverted, we have permitted the government to monopolize violence and coercion. This has resulted in our sheep-like acceptance of the theft of property, liberty, and dignity by the government.”

I think that this quote from Adam Kokesh in his book Freedom states the need to protect this right best.

“Everything governments demand we do or not do is backed up with, ‘Or else police with guns will come and lock you in a cage.' If we all had guns, and governments didn’t have any, this racket wouldn’t work. Governments have an interest in keeping us dependant on their protection rackets, but a police officer will never provide better protection than effective self-defense.”

I can understand these simple concepts even if I sometimes slip up and call a magazine a clip, or hold the rifle wrong. As Libertarians, believe it or not, we may not always know everything but we try to adhere to our principles of opposing force and violence. We also leave the choices whether to own a gun to the individual who owns him or herself. Oh, and shooting those guns was fun. I think I am going to buy anFN P90, both my wife and I enjoyed it the most.

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Coming from a gun-controlled country I can see that in the US people have given up so much about their right to bear arms. And I agree with you, it doesn't come from government, it's a natural right and shouldn't be ruled by any legislation or regulation whatsoever, no permits and such.

GREAT POST!!! Nice guns too. You're a pretty good shot.
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Thanks

I always like it when I come across a rational and reasonable discussion of this issue, absent the usual mob who can't get beyond stomping their feet while shouting "my rights, my rights, my RIGHTS!"

The sticking point for me is typically a moral-ethical-philosophical-values one: When — if ever — does ANY human being have the "right" to be judge, jury and summary executioner in the taking of another human being's life?

That's not a political question; it's a question of how a person — absent affiliations to politics and religion — feels about what we might call "the sanctity of life."

It doesn't matter to me whether someone calls themselves a "liberal" or "alt. right" or "libertarian" or "anarchist;" the question is posed at a completely HUMAN level.

"Freedom" can be a slippery slope; the moment we make a declarative statement such as "Freedom is ________" we've created a "box," with ourselves in it. Meanwhile, someone else's "freedom box" may be quite different from ours... so whose freedom box "wins" the day? One might argue "those with the bigger guns!" That might be, but does that not invite a descent into chaos?

I have no significant "skin" in this argument, merely curiosity and questions.

Bright Blessings!

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I agree, taking someone else's life should always be avoided. The only exception I make is in the protection of life. According to Locke it violates natural law to do so. That being said he also points out that by violating that natural law, you forfeit your own protection. Now that is time sensitive. If someone is in the process of killing someone it would be lawful to protect them or yourself by defending yourself up to and including killing them, but if they leave the scene and you track them down and kill them that would not be lawful.

As for Freedom, the definition I like is - The state one is in where no one is forcing their will upon the individual.

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what one person is forcing their will on the individual in the US?

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If you track down and kill someone who has actively attempted to murder you/is an imminent threat to you or your family, this is not unlawful in view of individual self-ownership.

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When — if ever — does ANY human being have the "right" to be judge, jury and summary executioner in the taking of another human being's life?

that's easy, when defending themselves or others from a physical threat. Except of course they are not any of the people you listed, "execution" is being legally killed by the state, not an individual.

In Bhagavad-gītā, God says we have the right to perform our prescribed duties, and that's all. Whatever else we deserve will come on its own accord.

natural rights don't really exist but in the minds of some philosophers, try arguing you have a natural right in court sometime. The proof is that the vast majority of people on earth don't have any of the rights we consider to be natural rights, there is no where else on Earth with both a right to bear arms and a real right to free speech. People have only the rights that their governments actually protect. For most people in most countries that means that their rights are shit.

It's important to remember that the 2nd amendment is a restriction on the federal government, you may want to check your state constitution to see if it also has a right to bear arms. Most do.

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You are deluded.

Your rights come from the self-evident truth that you own yourself. That is nature. You are the monarch of your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Each man owns himself, therefore any claim of ownership over another human being is immoral and a gross violation of natural law. That's the reason we're in this mess in the first place, because people are ignorant of Natural Law. Continuing to disobey these natural laws will inevitably result in the self-destruction of our species.

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Each man owns himself, therefore any claim of ownership over another human being is immoral and a gross violation of natural law.

There you have it, billions of people are not remotely free despite natural law, natural law, like any other law, only matters to the extent it is enforced, who enforces natural law?

Throughout most of human history most people were slaves, not tax slaves or wage slaves, they were slave slaves, and we seem to have avoided self destruction thus far.

Only a lucky few have enjoyed the rights that Americans enjoy.

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Funbobby, Even with the most tyrannical government, natual law cannot be avoided. Like Locke pointed out, oppression causes revolution, without it there would be no reason to overthrow a system. Again, by denying someone their rights the course of events dictate eventually that the perpetrator has forfeited their own right. A good example that comes to mind is the assassination of Julius Caesar. When he began defying natural rights and became a dictator the responce from the Senate was the course that followed.

Natural rights such as the right to self defense is not made valid by the 2nd ammendment. The entire bill of rights was a compromise. Because people such as Patrick Henry and other anti-federalists were losing the debate at the time, and the populace was moving towards a central government, they found allies in trying to uphold natural rights within the Constitution, and presto they codified them. Natural Rights preexist any document or government. If rights were dictated by governments as your arguements suggest, than Stalin was perfectly in his rights to starve to death millions in Ukraine. That arguement is madness.

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Oh right, who can forget when Stalin was prevented from killing millions of people by their natural rights, those work great!

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There are billions of Chinese and Indian people and Europeans who are not having a revolution and don't believe in free speech or the right to bear arms.

"Natural Rights preexist any document or government. "

Nope the idea is a product of the Enlightenment.

Stalin was perfectly in his rights to starve to death millions in Ukraine.
Of course he was, that example is good proof that your natural rights are worthless, all those Ukrainians had natural rights didn't they? What good did that do them?
Did he get in any trouble for it? Did he get arrested?

He should have been punished if violating natural rights mattered, right?

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All I can say is that your arguements put you on the same side as tyrants like Stalin, Mao, Polpot, and Hitler. Mine put me in the company of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. I hope you are proud of the group that shares your opinion, I certainly am proud of mine. They may not be perfect but they side with life, freedom, and respect for the self ownership of the individual.

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That's silly. You don't seem to understand my argument. You seem to have missed the point to come to such a silly conclusion. I guess no internet discussion would be complete without someone proving Godwin's Law.

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What I find silly is anyone who has faith in groups of people using force and violence over support of the individual.

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America was founded on the enforcement of natural law, hence the declaration of independence. But slowly the populous has become ignorant of the rights of self-ownership that so many have fought and died for. And quote Jefferson
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Exactly, those only became actual rights in America when the government codified them. Although if you look the founders as British citizens at the time had all the rights granted by the British Bill of Rights, like the right to self defense.
Our bill of rights is derivative of that. America was founded by men who were well read in Enlightenment philosophy.

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It is not clear what your stance is, but it sounds like you think rights did not exist until the people who didn't have them fought for them through the form of a government. And are you saying that people fought for rights they didn't know existed until there was government?
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it."
But how did they know they know they had the right to abolish government if it was not granted to them?

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Governments are instituted among Men to secure these rights otherwise those rights are not secure. And if they are not secured by your government then you don't have them. If you are wondering where the declaration of independence came from and where the bill of rights came from they were both derivative of this

As far as knowing you have a right to abolish the government.

"If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately."

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"it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." Government secures your right to abolish it? Where does this right derive from if not from natural law? Or are you just arguing semantics, that any time two or more people decide to abolish a government they become a government themselves? And that without government, no individual has rights, even if they are willing to defend their right to self-ownership?
If you have two people trapped on an island, one person says they are the government, the other person says they will not be governed. The person who declared self ownership does not have rights, and only the person claiming to be government has rights? If they fight what are they fighting for if not their natural right to self determination, self ownership, self preservation, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc?

Off topic:

Very good posts, hopefully you can always be successful in the esteem business