On Repelling Predators, Criminals, and Tyrants

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

Long
ago, Aristotle stated the defensive disadvantage bestowed upon man
by nature. In Parts
of Animals
, he observed that "the structure of man
is . . . worse than that of any other animal," he being "barefoot,
unclothed, and void of any weapon of force." However, man's
superior brain allowed him to craft his own defenses.

As
Aristotle noted, man's hand was "as good as a talon, or a claw,
or a horn." Furthermore, the hand could be "a spear or
a sword, or any other weapon or tool . . . because it can seize
and hold them all." The need for self-defense from all potential
threats was forced upon man at his creation.

Western
political thought, from ancient Greece to the Enlightenment, theorized
that the basic animal instinct of man to adapt and survive threats
in his physical environment also formed part of the body of "natural
rights" endowed at birth that allowed man to protect himself
from ever-changing, complex, and sometimes threatening social intercourse.

The
list of potential threats has changed little across time and space.
As philosophers from Cicero to John Locke would agree, the number
one threat to man has never been wild beasts or criminals lurking
in dark shadows; it is, always has been, and always will be, tyrants
and governments. More specifically, the most dangerous government
to life, liberty, and property was never the government halfway
around the world; it was the one in your own backyard.

Colonial
Americans learned this first-hand. They were Englishmen by birth
and their rights, according to the common law and English constitutional
history, were guaranteed as far back as Magna Carta (signed 1215).
Although "their" government was across the Atlantic Ocean
in London, colonial governments were under the direct control of
the crown and Parliament. After the French and Indian War, Americans
began to realize the contempt government held for their rights.

Parliament
incurred enormous debt to defeat the French. Since a good portion
was expended to defend the colonial frontier, the American colonists
were expected to pay their "fair share." The taxes assessed
on the Americans were far less than those assessed on those living
in England, but the Americans were a different breed than their
brethren across the pond.

Englishmen
by this time had been conditioned, like many modern Americans, to
accept increasing levels of taxation as the normal course of life
and the cost of empire. Unlike residents of "merry old England,"
where everything was positively "jolly good," colonial
Americans were defiant and outright belligerent towards a government
they saw as increasingly tyrannical.

The
American colonists had tolerated years of oppression before they
finally started shooting at their oppressors. The English had placed
increasing numbers of troops in the colonies to ensure the Americans
paid their share of tribute to the English treasury. To the smarter
colonists, this was a clear intent to reduce them to the status
of slaves. The proper response to such oppression, one that would
repulse most contemporary Americans, was a complementary application
of force.

The
colonists had been storing arms in anticipation of the growing threat
posed by their government. The first shots of the American Revolution
were fired in response to a column of British regulars trying to
seize some of these arms. In essence, the American independence
movement was initiated by a government attempt at gun control.

The
men who faced off against the British that day stood together to
defy tyranny but carried their arms as individuals. Had any one
of those men been similarly threatened by government forces in his
own home, he would have had an equal right to defend his liberties,
his person, his family, and his property with like force. In eighteenth-century
America, such a response against attempted oppression would have
been academic. To many contemporary Americans, the individuals who
fired upon the British, representatives of the government attempting
to enforce the law, would be likened to terrorists.

Such
skewed thinking permeates modern understanding of basic liberties,
the right to bear arms being foremost among them. Although uncomfortable
and even unconscionable for many to accept today, the existence
of all other rights still hinges on the existence of the right to
bear arms.

Try
imagining how much free speech, freedom of the press, protection
from unreasonable searches and seizures, or protection from cruel
and unusual punishment would exist if government knew with absolute
certainty that the American people were completely disarmed. If
you think that having a moral man in the White House who professes
belief in God would guarantee your rights in the absence of the
right to bear arms, you expect what Thomas Jefferson said about
freedom co-existing with an ignorant populace: "what never
was and never will be." As Patrick Henry said of the "jewel"
of liberty, "nothing will preserve it but downright force."

An
individual does not even have to possess arms to ensure that his
rights are secure from government oppression. I benefit because
enough of my neighbors might possess arms. Project this over
an entire population such as the United States and the number of
firearms in the hands of individual citizens runs into the tens
of millions.

If
we liken government to one massively empowered criminal, which in
reality it is, such a heavily armed population effects the same
behavior in government as concealed carry laws do for the average
street thug. Not knowing which of his potential victims might blow
him away if he assaults them, he is forced to reduce his criminal
intentions. Similarly, not knowing how far it can push the limits
of oppressive laws and confiscatory taxation before some segment
of the population rises up in rebellion, government enacts alternatives
to protect itself from potentially angry citizens bearing arms.

Despite
the clear wording of the 2nd Amendment, that "the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,"
government still infringes upon this fundamental liberty. Waiting
periods, ownership restrictions, and registration requirements all
cripple the individual and place him at the mercy of his own government,
much like declawing and dehorning animals in nature would place
them at the mercy of predators.

Instinct
and genetics endow animals with the means to defend against threats
in nature. History, experience, and a superior mind do likewise
for man. Except his threats far exceed those of the natural world;
he has government trying to declaw, dehorn, and disarm him. For
man to succumb to tyranny without a fight would be a violation of
his nature.

February
3, 2004

Harry
Goslin [send him mail]
lives in the Arizona high country.


        
        

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare