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I last updated this series of articles in 2016.  Times and the political climate are ever-changing, but the compelling reasons human beings need firearms never change. One can easily argue those needs have never been more urgent, and more and more Americans, including those that never before considered becoming gun owners–including progressives–bought arms in incredible numbers, particularly during the Obama years. The prospect of President Hillary Clinton, who promised to work for gun control every day, also drove a historic run on gun dealers. New monthly and yearly records for federally required background checks–each one signaling the purchase of one or more guns–were being regularly set. Best estimates place the number of guns in the hands of Americans at more than 300 million–one for every man, woman and child–though the true number is surely higher.  Now that Donald Trump is POTUS, the boom has slowed, but gun owners are more aware than ever that powerful people are determined to disarm them, and they aren’t going to let trifles like the Constitution stop them.

In that spirit, it’s once again time to revise this series. I’ll post these updated articles—a total of 14 last time; we’ll see what happens this time–in sequence every Tuesday for the foreseeable future.

Times have changed, and not for the better. Despite Mr. Trump’s redoubled efforts, our borders remain essentially wide open.  Daily swarming over our southern border are caravans of criminals, murderous gangsters, human traffickers, terrorists from around the world, drugs and more. There is no number of Border Patrol officers that can possibly stop any real number of them, yet Democrats, who prior to Mr. Trump voted billions for the building of walls that were never built, now vociferously deny Mr. Trump—the American people—a dime for border walls.  They want illegal immigration, which provides present and future—illegal—Democrat voters, and their reflexive hatred of Mr. Trump and the normal Americans he represents has so deranged them they care far more for opposing him at every turn than for the safety and security of Americans.  Leftists claim government will provide for all, yet they care nothing for individuals, particularly if they don’t buy what Democrats are selling.  In every way that matters, our personal safety is our responsibility; we’re on our own and always have been.

Practicing liberty, unlike Oregon teenagers

Barack Obama coveted several legacies, but the legacy he absolutely did not want, yet the legacy that, ironically, will stay with him, is the title of best firearm salesman in history. The age of Obama provoked an unprecedented increase in the sales of firearms and ammunition by Americans not previously noted as likely gun owners.

When Americans can no longer trust their government, they realize they have to trust themselves. The weaponization of the Department of Justice, the FBI, our intelligence apparatus, and the exposure of the Deep State and the continuing effort to overturn the result of a constitutional, legitimate presidential election are only a few of the scandals that have convinced normal Americans Ronald Reagan was right: government is not the solution; government is the problem, and such a problem government cannot be trusted.

Even progressives have begun to understand the government doesn’t actually want to provide for all their needs, and that even if it did, it couldn’t. They have begun to understand that this extends to protecting their lives, and they too have begun buying guns–even though only a short time ago they demonized them and their owners–for the first time in their lives.

Jefferson County Sheriff John Kirk

In a Kentucky county, the Sheriff has announced he can no longer afford to provide police services.  He doesn’t have the budget, and his patrol force consists only of one deputy and himself. He has advised people to load their guns and lock their doors.  Obviously, Americans need to think seriously about life and death issues.

The issues one must consider with care are summed up by two questions:

(1) Does evil exist?

(2) What must be the honorable man’s—and woman’s—response to evil?

Those that deny the existence of evil can reasonably stop reading at the end of this sentence, and hope–they’re likely not comfortable with or practiced at prayer–they’re right.  Those that admit to at least the possibility evil exists, should by all means read on.

Before we get to my scribblings, however, it would be worth your while to read three related articles, two relatively recent, one now more than 20 years old.  My friend and fellow blogger Bookworm has written two articles on the subject of evil and how rational, moral people should respond to it.  The first is here and the second, here.  In 1993, Jeffrey R. Snyder wrote a seminal article titled A Nation of Cowards, in which he explored issues of good and evil and provided sound logic on the moral man’s response to evil, which unquestionably exists.  Unlike the shrill whining of intellectual and moral lightweights like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Corey Booker–when they’re not fanning the flames of racial grievance and resentment, lying to and loathing the American people, violating the Constitution, or persecuting political enemies–-it is one of those bits of reasoning with which all well read people should be familiar.

I would hope you might feel similarly disposed to my writings when you’ve taken the time to consider them.

This is the first in a series of articles exploring, in depth, the issues revolving around gun ownership.  Whether you have never considered owning a gun, are thinking about it, or own all you need but not as many as you would like, this series may provide some ideas, and perhaps provoke the latest round in a lively debate raging for millennia.

Glock 17 (top, G19 (middle, G43 (bottom)

THE PHILOSOPHY OF GUN OWNERSHIP

Do human beings have an unalienable right to self-defense?  If you do not accept this, now would be a good time to be sure you have 911 on your speed dial.  However, tragically, that will be cold comfort, as this series will reveal.  Truisms are true for good reason, and few are more revealing of reality than this old saw:

When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

The Detroit Police, for example, have long had a 58 minute emergency call response time, when they answer 911 calls at all.  Since that’s what they admit, the reality is likely much worse.  This is the nature of police emergency response in much of the United States. In some places it’s a simple matter of distance, in others, such as the aforementioned Kentucky county, lack of money and manpower, in others crime is so rampant, response to even true emergencies is rationed, and in others, incompetence plays a role. In some places, many of these factors are involved. Even in places with excellent and professional police agencies and response times, one fact remains: even if one can call the police, the police cannot possibly respond in time to save lives when lives are under imminent threat.

If you truly do not accept that human beings have an inherent, unalienable right to self-defense, and you wish to live your conviction, it’s possible you’re not around to read this, survival of the fittest being a rather inescapable proposition.

What, by the way, does “unalienable” mean?  Most dictionaries would indicate that it means something like: “not transferrable to another,” or “cannot be repudiated,” but in the language of the Founders and of our founding documents, the word is most often coupled with an equally important word and is rendered as “unalienable rights.”  Unalienable rights are rights that are the inheritance of each human being by virtue of being born a human being; they are bestowed by the Creator.  Because they are not established and granted by governments, they can’t be taken away by governments. The Declaration of Independence makes explicit three “unalienable” rights:  “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but makes clear these are not the only unalienable rights.

Thomas Jefferson
Credit: Biography,com

Notice that “life” is the first of the three Thomas Jefferson chose to make explicit. This is important in that if there is no unalienable right to life, your life is forfeit to any person, to any government that chooses to take it, for it is such a government’s whims that dictate who is worthy of continued existence, as recent events in New York and Virginia horrifically illustrated.  It should also be noted that even if the laws and legal traditions of the state do recognize a right to self-defense,–on paper–if the state denies citizens the most effective means to exercise that right, or so restricts its exercise as to make it impractical in application—as is currently the case in Washington D.C., New York and California among other Democrat-controlled cities and states, there is little difference to the individual between those cities/states and one that recognizes no right at all. California, wholly owned and ruled by the Democrat Party, continues to write laws that plainly violate the Constitution. California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, is leading a new push for even more unconstitutional anti-liberty/gun laws.  As a result, more and more Californians are gladly becoming Texans.

If there is no right to self-defense, no right to mere survival, your life is forfeit to the whims of those cruel and strong enough to take it.  This may not be a concern if you are a young, strong, physically imposing male well schooled and practiced in the martial arts.  However, even the strongest may be overcome by force of numbers or trickery (ask Samson about that), and no one is young forever, as Edmond Rostand made plain in Cyrano De Bergerac.  If you are not young, strong and physically capable, things are rather different.  

In this understanding is the ultimate women’s issue, for women are nearly universally and undeniably in trouble where physical size, strength and aggression are the primary determinants of mere survival.  

Some would have us believe that refusing to pay with tax dollars for every woman’s contraception–which is cheap and available at every pharmacy in the nation–constitutes a “war on women.”  The real war on women is continually seeking to deny women the most effective means to preserve their very lives.

If there is no right to self-defense—no right government may grant or rescind–-can any other right, unalienable or otherwise, truly be said to matter? 

It may reasonably be argued that if a right is not unalienable, it is merely a privilege to be granted and rescinded by the state, but do we really want the state to treat our lives with the caring, efficiency and humanity employed by the EPA, the IRS, the VA and the TSA, as it body searches three-year old girls, with spina bifida, in wheelchairs (oh yes: they seized her stuffed animal too), or in the regulation of our privilege to drive?

One of the most important political understandings free men can have is that government has no conscience; it cares nothing for any individual. No matter how much a given politician claims to care deeply for the welfare of “the people,” “the people” are at best an abstraction, as any one of “the people” may discover when they demand government recognize and vindicate their individual rights.  This understanding is the necessary beginning of personal autonomy.  Without it, one will always be a vassal of the state, the state the worth of whose vassals is measured always only in their utility in implementing and supporting the transient goals of the state.

These ideas did not originate with Jefferson and our other Founders in the late 1700’s.  Thomas Cahill, in his insightful book The Gifts of the Jews, suggests that the paramount gift of the Jews, dating back to the time of Abraham, was the profound and original idea that each individual life has value, and each human being is precious and worthy of salvation, of an exalted existence after mortal existence ends.  This idea is easily recognizable as one of the foundations of Christianity. However, ultimately all such discussions are about power, and the proper balance of power between the individual and the state.

John Locke (1632-1704) was a proponent of natural rights, which are rights established by nature–-by nature’s God–-and are therefore unalienable.  Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) tried to reconcile the inherent conflict between a society full of individuals possessed of competing, unalienable rights, and the need of humans beings to live together in communities, through the “Social Contract,” the proposition that in order to live together, individuals must surrender some degree of absolute autonomy while still retaining certain unalienable rights, the most important of these being life, liberty and property.

These three rights are the very foundation of democracy.  This is the balancing of power–-for governments have powers; individuals have rights–-truly democratic republics perform each day, and that, until the age of Obama, when it took a sharp leftward turn toward totalitarian power, America performed far better than any other society.  To the degree that America retreats from full respect for and acknowledgment of any of these three, she retreats from democracy into an inevitable state of nature, well described by English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) in his masterwork Leviathan, published in 1651. While some romanticize nature, Hobbes saw it more clearly and wrote that the state of man in a state of nature is “,,,solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  How could it be otherwise?

How could America descend to a state of nature? Surely this is impossible! Imagine that all electrical power is lost in your community, that all running water and sewer service is gone, that your vehicle doesn’t run because there are no gasoline deliveries. How long would it take for order to break down? Days? Hours? If you wish to study further, consider this interview of Dr. William Forstchen.Circa 2019, socialism is once again fashionable, and Representatives and Senators are openly advocating for it, an anti-liberty, anti-American ideology that murdered at least 100 million in the last century alone.  An understanding of these concepts, even a subconscious understanding, is what is driving American’s current desire to be armed.  Americans understand–-or at least intuit–-that with financial collapse, tyranny, or any significant social disruption, society is plunged into a state of nature. Even many of the political left–and their numbers are steadily growing–wisely do not actually trust government.  Even a growing number of Black Americans are walking away from leftism under the walk away movement.

The Social Contract is part of the foundation of our society. While we retain unalienable rights, they are not absolute, yet can only be infringed, in limited fashion, by due process under the rule of law.  Tragically, over the last ten years, Americans have learned that when the so-called intellectual elite—of both parties–do not respect and honor the Constitution.  To them, American constitutionalism is outmoded, dead. Without a universal and willing belief in that essential American faith, liberty is in jeopardy and every man’s life hangs in the balance. When the Founders made references to God, they were not merely expressing personal religious conviction, but participating in a debate millennia old over the nature of God and man and man’s natural rights.  They well knew the work of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau and were certainly influenced by them, as are we all whether we recognize those names or know a word of their thought.

My students are always amazed to learn of the existence of the Social Contract.  They are often stunned to learn that they inherit it as a condition of birth in America, and need not read the fine print or sign on the dotted line.  They are equally surprised to learn that they may abandon it at will by moving to another nation with a social contract more pleasing to them.  Surprised, that is, until they understand all of the benefits the American contract provides while demanding of them little more than polite, law-abiding behavior.

Benjamin Franklin
Credit: earlytorise.com

At the conclusion of the first Constitutional Convention (1787) a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the delegates had given Americans. Franklin is reported to have replied: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Whether we can keep it is still an open question, a question that might have been answered in part on November 8, 2016. Mr. Trump’s term in office may be little more than a temporary reprieve for liberty, but there is no question the Second Amendment is foremost in making its existence possible.

James Madison
Credit: wikipedia.org

This has been, of necessity, a whirlwind tour of issues that have filled thousands of volumes over the centuries.  By all means, read Hobbes, Locke, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, even Rostand (everyone should know Cyrano; much of drama follows its lead), and certainly The Declaration of Independence (Jefferson) and particularly The Constitution (primary author, James Madison—4th President of the US).  The Bill of Rights may be found here. If you do, you’ll almost certainly be better read than the average Congressman or Senator.  But without the basic understanding provided by this admittedly sketchy overview, it’s difficult to appreciate the gravity of the question that began this essay: do human beings have an unalienable right to self- defense?

That question, and more, will be discussed in the next installment of this series, next Tuesday. I hope to meet you there.