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.
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.
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.”
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-
- Actively break the terms (a law, agreement, ect.)
- 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.