Guns and government
As of late, there have been several debates on campus concerning the topic of gun control. When approached with this topic, many stuffy professors like to drone on ad nauseam about court precedent. Others like to spew out endless series of statistics on crime rates and gun possession. Both sides seem to have their own set of numbers, their own historical story of gun use in America and their own collection of anecdotes about guns saving people or causing problems. In these discussions, however, the real debate about the need for guns and the real meaning of Second Amendment is completely overlooked. The reason we have a right to gun ownership is not to protect ourselves from criminals, but rather, to protect ourselves from history’s cruelest enemy of the people: the government.
The founders of this nation were radical people. They believed firmly in inalienable rights. In the Declaration of Independence, they stated clearly that government existed among men in order to preserve and protect these rights. As soon as the government becomes destructive to this end, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish said government (and they didn’t mean by asking nicely).
So where did the founders get these ideas about the occasional need for violent revolution? From none other than the erudite philosopher, John Locke. In one of his most famous quotes, John Locke said, “whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence.” That common refuge to which Locke refers is firearms, and the founders were keenly aware of this fact.
History has proven Locke’s concern to be fairly justified. The first thing which any tyrant does before massacring his people is to take away their weapons. Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot and Mao all were big fans of gun control. You can take all the statistics of how easy access to guns has led to higher crime rates or more accidental deaths, add them together, and you still wouldn’t reach a fraction of the human suffering which could have been avoided if the populace under any of one those tyrants were allowed to keep their arms. It is this concept which led to the creation of one of America’s foremost gun advocacy groups, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
Not only does a well armed public serve as a deterrent to government tyranny, but also as a deterrent to foreign invasion. Take the case of the Swiss in World War II. The Swiss are some of the most well-armed people on the planet. Their wealthy country would have proved a boon to Hitler’s coffers had he decided to march across their nation as he did so many others. His generals warned him that taking over Switzerland would be a battle at every mile, however, because their population was so saturated with automatic weapons. Hitler ultimately decided to take an alternative route to France, saving the Swiss population countless deaths.
The moral of this story is, when it comes to firearm ownership, there are bigger issues than small increases in the number of violent crimes. Guns are the people’s last defense against catastrophes where the death toll is not in the thousands, but in the millions. Any serious discussion of gun policy in the United States should avoid getting bogged down in minor, technical details and remember the points in history when an automatic weapon would have come in handy.
Phil is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].