• On Repelling Predators, Criminals, and Tyrants

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    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.


            
            

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