On Guns and Choices

A few years back, I stumbled upon a very interesting TedEx talk on YouTube.

It was basically the story of a Dutch man turned soldier, who had come to share before a captive audience the reason(s) Why he chose a gun.

His main argument – soldiers defend the innocent so they must be armed.

While this may be partially true, it is nothing like the whole truth.

Let me be clear.

I believe that all people (less criminals, mentally ill and the inept) should be able to have guns.

You see, when we are born into this world we have these inalienable rights: to be free from oppression, to realize our full potential, to own property, to express our thoughts, and to be different. We also have the right to have guns. We have rights, but we also have duties and responsibilities. And having a gun is a great right, but an even greater responsibility.

Most people do not realize that guns have two functions. The immediate one which is recognized by 100% of people and is self-evident (i.e. hunting, target and sports shooting, weapons of war).

Guns also have a metaphysical function: they are, as Orwell put it, symbols of democracy: “That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

But I am a realist and recognize that the world today no longer believes in freedom because it no longer believes in personal responsibility. It no longer believes in educating people about what is right and what is wrong.

The world today comprises of states that teach citizens that blindly obeying the law is good and revolution is wrong. Asking questions is an activity frowned upon by the state. It denotes an inquisitive populace which acts like a true system of checks and balances. But the state does not like people questioning why things are done a certain way. And that is at the crux of the matter.

Asking questions is one thing, and while the state may not like it, it doesn’t really bother it that much. After all, the state must keep up its democratic pretenses. It must uphold its veneer of legitimacy and act the part. Things radically change when citizens are armed and question the arbitrarily transmitted ‘rules’. Now that is something that no bureaucracy can ever tolerate.

And usually the rules are transmitted top-down because no government is really a democratic structure. Their rules are basically imperial ukazes. Most governments govern by fiat and executive orders. Only a few require the sacrosanct sanction of the people. And yet, almost all of them call themselves of the people, by the people, for the people. That is the measure of their disingenuous and manipulative nature.

Why Government doesn’t want you to have gunsand why you most certainly need to have them

Case in point and totally unrelated to guns.

I recently had the opportunity to go to an Eastern European country where I had the privilege of visiting a beautifully preserved 550 years old church. As I was taking flash-less pictures, I was confronted by a nun who told me to cease and desist right away. I asked her I would stop taking pictures if she could tell me why. She couldn’t offer me any reason. Instead she accused me of being the root cause for that country’s being such a “lawless society”. Her argument was non-existent since I had ceased being its national 15 years prior. At this point, I told her that she was wrong to say that about me. I pointed out that people like her, who could not reason or use the scientific method, were the root cause for that country’s backwardness.

The point I am making here is this. Unless government can prove with facts and figures that it is better than its citizens at protecting their own lives and upholding the law, democracy and human rights for all perpetuity, and given the human condition, it should not disarm its citizens.

But I digress. If you watch the video, you will understand that most people do not care about the mechanics of gun rights. They do not understand that gun rights are basic human rights, just like the right to exist and to grow into a more rounded human being.

Rounded but not like this.
More like this.
Luke Amadeus Ranieri (Scorpionus Martianus and Polymathy) is a YouTuber extraordinaire. This man is what we should all aspire to be. He is the textbook definition of what a rounded person is. A US Army helicopter pilot, a polymath who self-taught 12 languages, and teaches Ancient Greek and Latin, Luke is the personification of the expression ‘Where there‘s a will there’s a way.”

But I digress.

Watch the TedEx video and read the comments… and weep. I look at the comments and I despair. Instead of the people debating his arguments, they choose to engage in belittling ad hominem exchanges.

I mean the TEDex speaker did make some cogent and then some not so valid points. Why not debate those?!

Cogent point – world is less violent now

What he says: “The rate of killing has really gone down in the last 500 years.”

Counterargument – violent flare ups occur and they are gigantic

Little did he say about the fact that while 500 years ago, 10 or 100,000 people might die in a few days from violence, on the 6th and 9th of August 1945, 100,000 people died in Japan alone in two nuclear attacks.

Genghis Khan might have killed hundreds of thousands of people but not in one sitting, and most certainly not in one minute.

Reality check

It would have been of more value, and quite truthful for him to say that less people die from violence in Europe, North America, and a few other rather select locales than they did 500 years ago. And I know, I know, because the population is an all time high, there’s more violence now than before. But that’s statistics. The rate of violence per capita is lower now than in the 1200s. There were approximately 400 million humans in the 1200s. There’s 20 times more now. Violence increased only as a function of the population growth.

Truth is that 21st century is less predisposed to violence than any of the previous historical epochs.

The Visual History of
Decreasing War and Violence

What: “The historical record of homicide rates in Europe shows that modern levels of violence were only arrived at after a long decline.”
Why: “But why is violence declining? One important change is the improving literacy and education…”

But literacy and education cannot really explain away why the homicide rate decreased more in the UK than the Netherlands. Sometimes one needs to dig deeper to find causality and not just dumb uninformed correlation. I believe that one aspect that kept the homicide rate lower in England than the United Provinces between 1600 and 1800 was the firearm laws: much more liberal in England, at least for Protestants, than in Holland. But I need to validate this belief before it can become ‘scripture’.

Invalid point – only the state can own guns

As for his argument that a gun is a tool for legitimized and democratically controlled states, that isn’t always true. I mean, just because some countries have a good track record in the last 60 years of their use of the monopoly on violence, that doesn’t mean it will always be the same.

Because the historical record is full of good states going murderous on their own peoples. Trusting the state with guns based on current good behavior is not a smart survival strategy. History is replete with good countries with decent governments turning on a nickel on their people, and committing genocide using the tools of monopolized violence.

Behold History at its Worst: “This is a long-term view of wars and genocides. The past was not peaceful.” No way, Jose! You don’t say, eh!

At the very least, the state will abuse its monopoly on guns by unleashing its law-enforcement upon a hapless and clueless society. In fact, in America, this happens every day. For those who believe that the armed forces and police are better guardians of the peace than common citizens, I can only say this: You are deluded!

That very legitimacy, which the good Dutch soldier praises so much, is the source of all evil. With it comes a sense of entitlement and even gentrification of a right that all people have, not just the military or the police.

That is the sacred innate duty to defend one’s life, freedom, values, and livelihood.

There is no logic to governments’ argument that civilian gun ownership should be controlled. Instead, the people would do very well to restrict government controlled firearms. Lest we forget, most people are law abiding individuals, who want to live healthy, productive and wholesome lives. The government is the usual culprit, when in its quest for more power and more means to control all aspects of life, overreaches, bans, eliminates political rights that are inalienable. No civilian was ever heard say “I want to be the only one who dispenses violence around here!”. Yet somehow, governments pretend to be the only legal purveyors of organized violence. And you know what’s funny? They actually get away with it.

People blindly accept that government can do no wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And that is the source of all problems.

There are lots of other arguments that could be made but for the sake of brevity, I leave you with this quote from Karl Hess that I am paraphrasing “whenever you put your faith in big government for any reason, sooner or later you wind up an apologist for mass murder.”

In case you wonder who Karl Hess might be, he was an American tax resister and anarchist, who survived for the last 20 years of his life by bartering with his West Virginian neighbours for the necessities of life. He was forced into this kind of life by the federal government, who in its immense wisdom decided to make him an example of what happens to free thinking folk. The IRS put a lien on his property, forcing him to live a full and engaging life helping and being helped by the community. Karl Hess (1923-1994) was also a speechwriter and author, a political philosopher, editor, welder, motorcycle racer, tax resister, and libertarian activist. He famously said that “Everybody knows that the federal government promises a lot and delivers damn little, and pays for most of what it does deliver out of the earnings of individuals rather than the profits of great corporations.” Truer words were never said.

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