In perusing the left leaning forums, I’ve come across a pretty common argument I hear from them. This is quoted exactly from a forum, but I forgot the copy the attribution, so if I’m stiffing someone, forgive me:
Right. If you want defend your freedom against the government you need rpg’s, high explosives, heavy artillery and anti-aircraft missiles.
You have about as much chance of defending your freedom against the government with your hunting rifle as you would “armed” with a bb gun or beanie babies. You are defending your right to have toys.
Well, this is a commonly used argument that on the surface makes sense, but if you really think about it, it’s not really true. What is true is one thing: if the government wants to kill us all, it can.
But war isn’t really about killing. The mistake the left is making is failing to understand what power is.Â What gives another man power over you? Did you ever stop to think about that? I’m not talking here about the kind of power your wife has over you, when she makes you take out the trash. Or the kind of power your boss has over you, when he demands you get a report in on time. We all accept some modicum of social controls as part of enjoying the benefits of living as part of a society with other human beings.
When I speak of power, I mean what makes you accept that if you do something that displeases society, it will punish you. If you ultimately rejected anyone’s power over you, including the state’s, what’s to stop you? It all boils down to a very simple relationship. Others have power over you because, ultimately, power is derived from an ability and willingness to use violence to make one submit to the will of another, or the will of society as a whole.
The key aim of war is to get other to submit to your political will. Killing is ancillary to that; a way to cause your opponent to pay a price in order to convince him to submit to your will. That’s one reason we failed to win the Vietnam War; because McNamara and his wiz kids forgot that war wasn’t about a body count, it was about political will, and the North Vietnamese had more of that than we did. If we had just intended to wipe out the Vietnamese, we could have easily done so. But we wage war for political reasons, not because we like killing. As Clauswitz said, war is just politics by other means.
So it’s with that idea in mind that the founding fathers understood the value of an armed citizenry. Who can blame them? They had just defeated the most powerful military on the face of the planet. How many people of Boston do you think would have said, “You’ll never defeat the British Army. And even if you could, you’ll certainly never defeat the Royal Navy. Just look at what they have?” And let’s face it, if the Royal Navy had just decided to open fire and shell Boston after blockading Boston Harbor in June of 1774, I suppose there wouldn’t have been much the city could have done to survive. But the British crown did not want bodies, it wanted submission.
In our country today, the crown is the state, and it has planes, tanks, rockets, nuclear weapons, submarines, and all manner of deadly weaponry. But those are instruments of killing, and while they can translate into political power, they are not political power in and of themselves. If the government wishes to force us to submit to its will, rather than just merely killing us all, eventually someone has to get out of that plane, submarine, or tank and come shove a rifle in my face. When one talks of power between humans, that’s what it really boils down to.
What the founding fathers meant to protect, when they wrote the second amendment, was not a guarantee against getting myself killed by my government. They had just fought a war where a lot of that went on, and they knew better. What they meant to preserve was someting else; if on the day that an unlawful government came to stick rifles in our faces, demanding submission, that we could point them right back and say “NO!”.
It was Patrick Henry who exclaimed on the floor of the House of Burgesses in 1775:
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
The second amendment is not meant to be an indivdual guarantee against death, it’s about us, as a free citizens, being able to choose to say no; the freedom to choose to risk death, and rather than submit to an unlawful government, to fight it.
This is what the left of today fails to understand, and a big part of the reason I find their philosophy repugnant. Given that war is about political will rather than body counts, there’s a reasonably good chance that a body of armed people, collectively saying “NO!”, and backing it up with force of arms, will be enough to deter any government that might forget who they work for, and what constitution they are supposed to operate under.Â A lot of individuals might perish in such a process, true, but the second amendment was meant to guarantee that we, as free Americans, always had a choice of whether or not to go gently into that good night.
And that folks, is why I’m a gun nut.