Gun rights are human rights. This is something that we’ve said over and over again.
In particular, humans have a right to defend themselves from any manner of aggression. Your right to live means you also have a right to have the best means to defend that life from all who threaten it.
Yet not everyone agrees with this, apparently.
Take this story that tries to claim that gun rights actually aren’t human rights.
Gun rights are not human rights
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) laid out, on a global scale, a set of rights guaranteed to every human being and explicitly called on member states to observe, promote, and protect these rights.6 The principles enshrined in the UDHR include the “right to life, liberty and security of person,”7 with an important caveat: “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”8 That is to say, these fundamental rights and freedoms are not unlimited but part of a social contract in which all persons must respect the rights and dignity of other people as well.
While the right to security of person is often misconstrued as a broad right to self-defense against any perceived threat,9 it actually enshrines the right for someone to have security and safety over their body, protecting them from attack. In order to justly protect one’s personal right to security, a person is able to use force only insofar as the situation requires it and when there exists no other means of protecting themselves from attack. The use of force falls under the right of security only when the force is proportional to the impending attack.10
As U.N. Human Rights Officer Jan Arno Hessbruegge noted:
International human rights law establishes boundaries on how broadly domestic laws on personal self-defense between private persons may be drawn. States may not prohibit self-defense altogether, but in protecting the right to life they must also be sure that self-defense rights do not exceed reasonable boundaries. Certain initiatives to broaden self-defense laws raise serious concerns from a human rights perspective, notably “stand your ground” laws that permit the use of lethal force despite the existence of safe retreat options. Contrary to what has been asserted by some gun rights advocates, international law does not establish a right to firearms as a means of self-defense.11
The linkage between the right to self-defense and the right to be armed is a fallacy perpetuated not by human rights scholars but by lobbyists for the firearms industry.
Oh, isn’t that adorable.
I mean, it’s almost cute how the author presents the United Nations’ statement as if it’s somehow the definitive word on what is and isn’t a human right.
Nevermind that the UN is a coalition made up of nations of all different types, including more than a few dictatorships. You know, the very kind of people who inherently despise the private ownership of firearms. Why? Because they don’t want their subjects able to fight back. They don’t actually believe the people have a right to defend themselves. Not from the government, at least.
In truth, the United Nations is nothing but a failed noble experiment that now puts tyrants in a position of authority over the good and decent people of the world.
It’s a joke.
If people are going to have the right to self-defense–a right that even the UN says exists–then the natural extension of that has to be that they have a right to access the means to defend themselves. Just as a person can’t be barred from exercising their freedom of speech by denying them access to platforms from which to speak, a free person has a right to access the means of personal defense.
Simply saying that someone has a right to defend themselves while simultaneously barring them from accessing the most efficient means to do so is akin to saying someone has freedom of religion while preventing them from going to a church, mosque, synagogue, or any other place of worship.
For many nations represented at the UN, though, that’s the point.
The author here is taking the fact that the UN’s consensus is that gun ownership isn’t a human right, and thus establishing that no, it simply can’t be.
As such, it doesn’t really matter that the UN claims guns aren’t a human right. What matters is that we aren’t beholden to the United Nations for anything.