If American citizens did not own firearms, the United States would not have been born in 1776. Likely, it would have eventually become an independent nation, but not for many more years – perhaps not for another hundred or more years. This fact is at the heart of the debate over whether or not private citizens have the right to own firearms: All governments eventually become uneasy with the idea that armed citizens have the power to control their own destiny. It need not even be a majority of the populace; only a small fraction of the population of the American colonies actually took up arms against British rule. The question of gun ownership, however, goes beyond this and even beyond the Second Amendment; gun ownership is a civil right. In a society that has no way to completely eliminate the possibility of those who wish to do harm from obtaining firearms, it is also a moral duty.
More than any other ethnic group, the black community should understand that the right to keep and bear arms is a civil right; segregation would not have been enforceable for as long as it was had blacks not been forbidden from going armed. The persecution they suffered would not have persisted; The Ku Klux Klan would have quickly melted away if faced with armed opposition, for example. The fact that, today, relatively few black Americans legally own guns demonstrates that – as a community – they have abdicated their free will and independence to the political Left; the very people who attempted to preserve slavery, then founded the Klan after slavery was abolished; the very people who, today, call them Uncle Tom’s or ‘House Ni**ers’ if they dare to adopt an opposing viewpoint.
Gun ownership is, in fact, even more than a civil right; it is one of the most basic human rights. Every living thing on this planet has the fundamental right of self-defense. In this modern society, where guns will always be available to those determined enough to obtain them, it is morally repugnant for any political leader to demand that law-abiding citizens give up their right to protect themselves, their families and their communities from those who would do them harm – and would do so without regard for any gun-control laws. Much of what law-enforcement agencies do is reactive; they spend the majority of their time attempting to apprehend criminals after the crime has been committed. They do not have the ability to be on-hand to prevent mass-casualty shootings. It is widely acknowledged that law-enforcement officers are usually the ones who end an active shooter event; this is because they are the first armed individuals to arrive at the scene. It is worth noting that mass-casualty shootings do not occur when armed citizens are already present.
No government on earth has the right to force an individual to give up the ability to physically protect themselves. The stark and indisputable fact is that the blood of every single innocent victim of a mass-casualty shooting is on the hands of those who create so-called gun-free zones. Whilst it is correct to bear in mind that some individuals would choose not to carry a firearm even if allowed to do so, it is the blanket bans on the presence of firearms in certain areas or facilities that make these very places targets for those unstable individuals who wish to commit mass murder. James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater killer, as an example, did not pick the cinema closest to his home; he chose the one theater in the area that proudly advertised its gun-free status.
Gun ownership is also a moral duty. It is the moral duty of every human being to do no harm to others, except in defense. It is the moral duty of every human being to not require that someone else risk their life to protect him or her, but it is also the moral duty of every person to be prepared to act in defense of the innocent. Those who believe that the government has the responsibility to keep them safe from harm are neglecting their basic individual – and, indeed, biological – duty to act in the interests of self-preservation. Individual countries raise armies in order to fulfill their duty, as sovereign nations, to provide for their own defense. Those armies, however, are not designed to protect individuals from human predators within society. Lastly; it is the moral duty of citizens to be prepared to save themselves and their fellow citizens from oppression.
The United States, today, is ruled – not governed – by those who follow the ideology of Progressivism. This ideology shares common roots with both Communism and Nazism – two political philosophies which have been falsely represented as being at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. In reality, both are more extreme evolutions of Socialism – even Adolf Hitler acknowledged this and referred to himself often as a Socialist. The German Nazi Party identified itself, by name, as a Socialist party. Progressivism, too, is a collectivist ideology and such systems are dependent upon the absolute loyalty and obedience of the nation. The central government – the State – becomes the central , controlling power in all things. The removal of religion is vital to the development and ultimate preservation of such systems. Another vital component – and one which was, and is, a characteristic common to Communism, Nazism and Progressivism – is the disarming of the population. In such systems, citizens are led to believe that the State will take care of their every need and desire. The state, however, cannot protect every person at all times. In addition, history shows that such systems lead inevitably to the removal of all civil rights, widespread persecution and oppression and the misery and poverty that accompanies the economic catastrophes such systems of government always lead to.
Knowing that governments, over time, veer gradually in the direction of ever-increasing authoritarianism, the Founding Fathers concluded that it was vital that each state be able to raise an armed militia from its citizenry in order to protect and preserve its autonomy. The mention of a militia within the Second Amendment has nothing to do with the National Guard, as is argued by some today; the National Guards of each state are not under the sole control of said state; they are ultimately a part of the United States armed forces and, as such, are under the control of the federal government. The Second Amendment could not be more clear in its intent to allow for the defense of free states through the raising of militias from the citizenry, who already have their weapons.
Additionally, the Founders wanted to forestall the possibility of the United States ever becoming a nation ruled by a Sovereign, Emperor or other authoritarian leader. Their many comments on the subject show they understood that armed citizens would eventually be the last barrier still standing between central government and authoritarian rule. Thomas Jefferson made this very clear when he wrote, as a footnote to his draft of the Virginia Constitution, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Those on both sides of the gun ownership argument will continue to cite studies, statistics and sundry additional sources to support their respective positions; each will accuse the other of cherry-picking certain facts and figures to advance their agenda. Ultimately, however, the right to act in self-defense when confronted with unjust violence is a basic human and civil right that no governing power has moral authority to forbid. The Constitution of the United States remains the supreme law of the land and, through the Second Amendment, grants the right of gun ownership to every citizen – as acknowledged by the Supreme Court. No study, statistic or appeal for a supposedly safer society will change these facts.
President Obama himself, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, declared “Because, while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.” Unwittingly, he has advanced the case for gun ownership with this statement: He correctly acknowledges that every possible gun-control measure would not completely eliminate gun violence. He also calls it an “obligation” to do what must be done to save “even one life”. The logical conclusions of this would be comical, were they not tragic. On the one hand; private citizens use firearms many hundreds of times each year to save their own life or that of someone else; why, then, do we not have an obligation to ensure that more armed and trained citizens are available? On the other hand, many more people are killed each year by knives, baseball bats, fists, car accidents or mishaps in the home than are killed by the much-maligned “assault rifle”. Following the President’s deeply flawed logic, then, should we not ban knives, baseball bats, cars and wet bathroom floors?
On this point, it is worth noting that assault rifles have been banned from sale to the general public in the United States for many years. The types of ‘long-gun’, or rifle, that are commonly owned in this country have no selective-fire feature – that is, the ability to switch between single shot, three-shot burst or fully automatic fire, as most military weapons can. The AK-47s and AR-15s owned by so many Americans are rifles that are capable only of firing one shot at a time and then automatically reloading the next round; hence the designation “semi-automatic”.
The effort to disarm private citizens has no logical, moral or legal basis; such action will not eliminate homicide. It may make the timid few feel safer, but the few have no right to restrict the freedoms of others in order to make them feel anything. Ironically, they would be less safe, as those who would use guns against them do not obey gun-control laws.
The hard and ultimate truth, however, and regardless of all the statistics, theories and projections, is that no individual or government entity has the right to prevent a law-abiding person from owning anything – particularly if the item in question is a potentially life-saving device. This, of course, summons the possibility of extreme counterpoints, such as whether or not citizens should be allowed to purchase battle tanks or attack helicopters. Such extremes merely distract from the basic argument; the very people who indulge in such games are the same people who would dismiss, as ridiculous, the suggestion that we ban baseball bats or steak knives in the interests of saving “even one life”. Life is full of imperfections and human beings full of contradictions, weaknesses and character flaws. The creation of a society completely devoid of violence is impossible without the total removal of free will itself. We must accept the risks, educate the young, punish those who transgress and respect each others’ freedom of choice; these things advance society – passing laws which protect people from themselves, or strip people of the basic right of self-defense, do not.
An Op/Ed by Graham J Noble