Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 459, March 9, 2008

"There is no more useful death than
in the act of killing tyrants."

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

What's the True Source of our Right to Bear Arms?
by Paul Bonneau

Attribute to: The Libertarian Enterprise

There are some odd posts being made on gun forums these days. For example, "its people like you that will hand the white house to a commi democrat, who will select the next supreme court justice member....and they will destroy the 2nd..." This, apparently an attempt to convince us to vote for McCain, that great protector of the 2nd Amendment. Here's another: "The jack booted feds will roll you (and me) up like an old carpet. If you think you can resist then you will join the ranks of the Branch Davidians and the martyrs of Ruby Ridge. All the good sheeple will fall in line or die." This is supposedly what will happen if Obama or Hillary gets elected.

There is a very strange notion implicit in these comments: that our rights derive from 9 old men and women on the Court. Thus if we get the wrong ones in there, we are doomed. Since the composition of the Court depends on who is President, this in turn implies that our rights really derive from the President.

This is even stranger than the notion that our right to bear arms comes from the 2nd Amendment itself.

Now, fully recognizing the somewhat linguistic question of whether rights exist at all, our right to bear arms depends on one thing, and one thing only: our willingness to kill anyone who attempts to confiscate them. Surely, that is not news? Yes of course, we write our congresscritters and join GOA and JPFO (and NRA if we are clueless), and write letters to the editor, and argue legal cases in court, and vote for "pro-gun" legislators, and so forth. But our right does not depend on any of these mechanisms, and they unfortunately tend to conceal the hard fact beneath everything: that our right to bear arms depends on our willingness to kill anyone who attempts to confiscate them. What these other mechanisms are good for, is putting off any day of reckoning — which is well worth doing to be sure (up to a point). But they cannot be the whole prop of our right.

Well, what about noncompliance?

Noncompliance is certainly an excellent tool. It's the old saying, "There's safety in numbers." The English have lost their guns because they could not be bothered even to refuse to comply with their law (not enough numbers there, I guess), while New Jerseyites and other Americans still have their "assault weapons" because they did refuse to comply. It's not the ideal situation, since "selective enforcement" is possible, but it is better than the alternative of being disarmed. Massive noncompliance has the additional attraction of making manifest the illegitimacy of government, and if there is anything they hate, it is that.

But in a noncompliant situation, what happens if you are caught? Then, you are back to brass tacks again, deciding whether you are willing to put up with 5 years of prison rape, or instead making the wife of the guy who caught you a widow (if he cannot be made to see reason). That's what is always at the bottom of this. Our right depends on something internal to ourselves, not upon others.

Again, the Presidency and the Court's composition does not matter to the right itself, but bears only on the day of reckoning. At this point the reader is advised to refer to Patrick Henry's famous speech. Is it better to put off that day, so that our children have to deal with it in worsened circumstances, than it is to deal with it ourselves? Who is best equipped to deal with it — those who have already lived their lives, or those in their prime with small children at home? These are questions that should be occurring to all of us.

This discussion brings up another interesting point. What, really, is the difference between persuasion and coercion? One could argue, the difference is a firearm — but not the one held by the persuader or would-be coercer! It is the firearm held by the one being "persuaded".

What does this mean?

I answer with the question, "Can armed people be coerced?" It is at least arguable that they cannot! The persuasion, especially when it gets into heavy arm-twisting, can certainly look like coercion; but for the armed, the question is always decided by a choice: go along, or resist. Just because we mostly choose to go along, it should not deceive us that that is the only choice; whereas for the disarmed, it is the only choice (and thus there is no choice at all). A state-employed thug, or a free-lance one, simply takes from an unarmed man anything he wants including life itself. To an armed man, he can only produce compliance using at worst a threat on one's life, accompanied by the risk of losing his own. Quite a different kettle of fish.

This calculus applies to all questions of compliance, but especially to the question of compliance with gun confiscation itself. One might say this is the meta-question of compliance. If one complies, then one by implication complies with all further demands no matter how extreme, because compliance with this one gives up the possibility of any future choice. It is saying, "Here is my gun. Now, what else do you want to do with me?"

We do not really trade our guns for our life, in a confiscation, any more than the Jews of Nazi Germany traded their guns for their lives. We do not really own our lives anyway, but only borrow them temporarily: we are mortal. The real trade here is guns for little more than a state-determined temporary extension of our lives on our knees — and the lives of our children and their descendents on their knees as well. Despite how repugnant, how low such a choice is, there is apparently no shortage of people willing to make it.

Thus our right, our freedom, does not depend on those people either. They are even more useless than the Constitution, the judges and the presidents in protecting it, because their lamentations of surrender only tend to sap the resolve of others. Our freedom depends on those few who understand the issue at its base; and knowing where the right comes from, step up and accept the duty. It is they who will make the bastards pay, who will refuse to take the easy choice of slavery, who will kill those who force the question of ultimate compliance on them, even at the expense of their own lives. The best end for a useful life is a useful death, and there is no more useful death than in the act of killing tyrants. A Remnant, a few real men and women is all it takes; "the rest are furniture".


Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 459, March 9, 2008

Big Head Press