The Luxury of Self-Defense

Posted at 9:08 am on March 24, 2015 by Mike McDaniel

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The most fundamental unalienable human right is the right to self-defense. This would seem self-evident, a basic understanding for all rational people. After all, if individuals do not possess that right, the consequences are obvious—and brutal. If one doesn’t possess that right, what other right matters?

How is it then, that many citizens of the United States of America, circa 2015, do all they can to not only deny the existence of the individual right to self-defense, but labor ceaselessly to deprive individuals of the most effective means and methods—arguably, concealed handguns–of defending their lives? Are they merely deluded, oblivious to reality, or is their stance intentional, a means to an end? How is it such people are accorded positions of honor, leadership and respect among men when they are working to deny men the very right that makes the continued existence of men—and which constrains governmental power—possible?

Before discussing this important issue, it’s important to understand that “individual self-defense” implies absolute bodily integrity and sovereignty. It acknowledges the inestimable value of each human life, and the right of each human being to preserve their life against those that would unlawfully take it. In this way, in this most important sense, the individual is supreme over the state, and every other human right flows from this understanding of the individual/state relationship. To be sure, under the social contract, individuals must surrender some degree of sovereignty to live together under the rule of law. Thus may the state, on behalf of all, take the lives of those that commit murder, but this power is conditioned on the consent of the governed and upon the maintenance of equal justice for all—the rule of law.

And if the rule of law fails? That’s why we have the Second Amendment, which also acknowledges the right to self-defense while referencing the means and methods by which it may be exercised. As those that study the Constitution know, an unalienable right is not granted by government, nor can it be rescinded by government, though some will surely try. Tyranny, soft or hard, rests not and always seeks its chance.

In 1651 Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan, an early and influential treatise on the social contract, the proper relationship between the governed and the government. He wrote that life in a state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Anyone living in a state that is not under the rule of law, as is currently common in the Middle East, would easily agree with Hobbes in this narrow assertion, if nothing else. So should we, for it explains why educated, comfortable, prosperous, and healthy people work so assiduously for a principle that would render their life, and the lives of those they love, meaningless, a political commodity to be husbanded or destroyed at the whims of those physically stronger, more numerous or politically powerful.

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Gun control is a conceit, a luxury of advanced societies.

The societies with the greatest respect for the individual respect the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, subject to the rule of law established by the consent of the governed. Societies without respect for the individual significantly restrict or completely ban the keeping and bearing of arms. No tyranny can allow its subjects arms.

A famous aphorism observes that a conservative is a liberal that has been mugged. The inherent truth underlying the aphorism is the idea that philosophy may change in the face of reality. However, this is not always true of the citizens of an advanced society like ours.

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Consider the survivors of the children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Some are suing the manufacturer of the AR-15 pattern rifle the killer—who would want his name to be mentioned here—used. No person of good will can fail to empathize with their sorrow and anguish, but allowing people to sue manufacturers for the criminal misuse of their legal products will do nothing to prevent attacks on schools, nor will it save lives when they occur. The most grievous result of their suit would be damage to the right to self-defense.

Consider too Kayla Mueller, a young woman recently killed by ISIS. Mueller, an aid worker in Syria was kidnapped and held hostage for more than a year. As more information becomes available, it appears she was in Syria at least in part because she sympathized with the enemies of liberty, as Mark Steyn quotes from her blog: 

Oppression greets us from all angles. Oppression wails from the soldiers’ radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret five times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again.

Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbour, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives.

While living in a nation under the rule of law, in an advanced western republic, it is possible to believe in and act upon all manner of things that wouldn’t occur to one living in a state where life resembles a state of nature. Where life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, one doesn’t have the luxury to engage in self-defeating litigation, and the right—the necessity—of self-defense is unquestioned.

When one moves into the midst of a state of nature without abandoning the conceits rationally available only to the fortunate and prosperous, Hobbes’ observation quickly becomes unquestionable reality. While I don’t doubt that Ms. Muller had humanitarian motivations, it is reasonable to think she believed her demonstrated sympathy for the “resistance” would protect her. Surely her demonstrated kindness and compassion would shield her from harm? Surely they would recognize her sympathies and respect a kindred spirit? Unfortunately, they didn’t, and she couldn’t see what was easily foreseen: Islamist barbarians respect only force. Those with the guns dictate terms to those without. Without the rule of law, without a recognized right to self-defense, without the means to exercise it, the choices–and lives–of the disarmed are limited.

Also common to advanced societies is the blurring of the line between what it means to be male and female. In a state of nature, where the strongest prevail, gender roles are not in dispute. Physical strength and traditionally male sensibilities such as dominance, aggression and intimidation are valued and in demand. The more negative of male characteristics, centered around self-gratification and individual and tribal power come to the fore and the more noble instincts are suppressed or entirely lost.

But in the America of 2015, men and boys are under attack as never before. Their protective impulses, their physical strength, aggression, and willingness to risk themselves for the benefit of others is too often seen as dangerous and threatening, and men are relegated to the role of pajama boys. Men no longer have to be men and there are substantial punishments meted out to those that try.

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Women too find themselves assailed from both ends of the political spectrum. On one hand, they must not depend upon men for protection—most men are rapists, after all, particularly on college campuses—or they are inauthentic women, but on the other, they dare not own or carry firearms, which automatically turns them into men, again, inauthentic women. It is a bizarre, schizophrenic existence where women are expected to be strong and independent, yet reject the very tools, beliefs and attitudes that male strong independence possible, particularly in any sort of physical conflict. In essence, contemporary women must assume a thin veneer of faux-strength over the reality of all of the physical weaknesses to which women can possibly fall prey, and in so doing, they must also ensure that men cannot be men and that they are punished for any attempt to be men.

Even in our advanced republic, perfect harmony and safety are not guaranteed, and often enough, peaceful people that share political philosophies with the various victim groups they champion find themselves victimized by members of those groups. When predator and prey meet, particularly when the prey have taken active steps to ensure they are and remain prey, the outcome is certain.

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And what do most of these victims then do? They revel in their victim status, which is all too often seen as a kind of nobility. Unfortunately, that nobility places demands on others. Among the most common demands are that all, particularly women, disarm themselves under the bizarre theory that if the weak remain weak and more are made weak, this will somehow empower the weak or make society morally superior. Such gestures are not only self-defeating and make society far less secure and more dangerous, they are entirely symbolic and dedicated to propping up a statist dependence on a state that could care less about the welfare of life of any individual.

To be sure, statists often profess great caring for certain useful victim groups, such as women, people professing various sexual preferences, temporarily useful members of minority races and others, but this caring is fleeting and situational. When any of these groups fall out of favor, or their political utility to the state weakens, the state’s utter lack of caring for the individuals that make up those groups becomes immediately apparent, to the shock of those that had, until that moment, willingly made themselves dependent upon the state.

Ability to think this way, to put one’s very survival in the hands of people who care nothing about the survival of others, is a luxury unimaginable to most of humanity, even in 2015. Believing things that make no sense, that are manifestly untrue and dangerous, and that can result in injury or death, are seen only in supposedly advanced western nations. Even now, in France, Denmark, and other nations, reality may be, slowly dawning.

Fortunately, most Americans still understand the necessity of the right to self-defense. Women, in numbers previously unimaginable, are coming to that understanding and the understanding that the one tool that secures that right is the handgun, concealed and ready when needed.

This frightens those that prefer delusions and the illusions of safety provided by a state that would use and discard them like a fast food wrapper. And so they redouble their efforts to preserve the illusion of moral superiority and safety and to force everyone to live in their world where women walk, armed only with a misplaced sense of moral superiority, into the dens of the most vicious predators on Earth, people who live the most negative and destructive of male tendencies.

Let them keep their conceits, their luxuries–as long as we can afford them, civilization reigns–but we must maintain the rule of law and those unalienable rights that underlie it. When the right to self-defense, and the most usual and effective means to secure it, falls, so do we all, and the philosophies and moral conceits that matter so much to too many, will matter not at all.