The Case for the Non-Revolutionary Ownership of Guns

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There are two main extremes in the debate over guns. The gun control people are basically worshippers of the state. They grovel before the image of the state. They believe in the state. They see the state as redemptive: an agency of healing. This agency must be armed, they say, in order to collect the money necessary to fund the state’s messianic claims and programs.

A state that can heal must be a state that can kill. The gun control crowd worships a state that can heal. So, they call for the abolition of private gun ownership. This is consistent.

At the other extreme is the private militia crowd. They think that the ownership of weapons is basic to conducting a new American Revolution. They think that that their ownership of weapons will in some way slow down the state. Some day, the People will take up arms against the state.

I reject both positions.

Here is reality. The ownership of guns is mostly symbolic most of the time. The gun as a symbol says this: the state is not God. The state is not finally sovereign. Citizens are sovereign under God, and they possess the right to bear arms as a mark of this sovereignty.

The defenders of the messianic state go ballistic in the face of this claim. They do not accept popular sovereignty. They accept state sovereignty. They accept the fact that voters can elect masters, but they do not accept the fact that citizens have a right to exercise the mark of sovereignty: to defend themselves by force of arms. The statists want the state to possess a strict monopoly over life and death. They understand the meaning of the symbol of the gun. They want guns and badges linked judicially: no badge – no gun.

The weekend militia people are dangerous. Why? Because they have a romantic view of bloodshed. They think that the modern state can be successfully resisted by force of individual arms. This leads to a suicide mentality. The suicide mentality is the heart of the matter, not gun ownership.

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Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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