Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 789, September 21, 2014

2 to the chest,& 1 to the head,
puts the terrorist down and dead

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Impunity in the Land of the Armed
by Paul Bonneau

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Dan Sanchez does a fine job of refining our understanding of the problem of power, which in turn will help us learn how to fight it:

No, power isn't simply about the exertion of unjust force. It is about what happens next, after the exertion. Does the perp generally get away with, or not? Systematically getting away with it—or impunity—is where power truly lies. And that is what makes agents of the state different from any other bully. State agents can aggress with reliable impunity because a critical mass of the state's victims consider the aggression of state agents to be exceptional and legitimate. That is power.

This is the source of the recognition becoming ever more widespread these days, that laws are for peons—not for the rulers or their minions.

If this view of power's connection to impunity is correct, it tells us that the truly unfortunate thing about police is not their recent transmogrification into a military force of violent thugs, but their creation in the first place. The current condition is an inevitable outcome of that creation. Instead, one might be amazed that it took so long to come about. However, it turns out that police were corrupt right from the start of their establishment in mid 19th Century America. Cops were little better than auxiliaries of the politicians in power at the time.

The interesting thing about this situation, though, is the concurrent arming of America, explicitly recognized via the expansion of concealed carry laws in the country, and the huge numbers of sales of military weapons. This puts us in a unique position worldwide. How does impunity work when the victims are armed?

Initially, it appears to work the same here as everywhere else. When heads need bashing, cops are ready and willing, if not eager, to do it. They seem not to be deterred by an armed populace.

But there are signs around the edges, of an increasing reticence. The organization Oathkeepers is one example, along with reluctance of cops in New York and other such places to enforce the politicians' gun-grabbing fantasies. It's a bit difficult when their victims consider being disarmed as an act of war. Cops do not want to be shot at by enraged crowds of gun owners. The feeling of walking around with a target on their backs is not a pleasant one. There are cracks in the edifice of impunity after all. When will politicians start getting shot? When will they too start feeling the deterrent effect of an armed population?

Keep in mind that few people actually carry weapons, or reflexively hate police. We are only at the beginning of this tendency. The percentage of the population who carry could easily double and redouble, depending on the state of the economy and on crime. Where will impunity be then? Can political power exist without impunity?

We are in uncharted territory. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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