Do Americans Have a Natural, Moral Right to Defend Themselves?

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”  —Amendment II, US Constitution

Must You Let Attackers Harm or Kill You?

If you are attacked, do you have the right to defend yourself?  Or should you be forced, by law, to sacrifice your life and—most likely—the lives of innocent family members?

It Is Your Civil Right

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In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the original meaning of the Second Amendment protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

When asked who the Militia was, Founder George Mason answered by saying, “They consist now of the whole people, except for a few public officers.”  Mason’s definition is standard, across writings, among the nation’s Founders.

constitutionIndeed, all Constitutional protections are founded on the principle that all collective rights devolve from individual ones.  Nor is any particular type of weapon specified in the Second Amendment, since the principle is the timeless one of being allowed to use any kind of weapon which may be at the disposal of your adversary.  This is an unconstrained right of the people.  To constrain the people, by victim-disarmament, promotes the immoral outcome of evil criminals triumphant over righteous citizens.

Armed Defense Increases Public Safety

On May 7, 2013, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that firearm-related homicides in the US declined by 39%—and nonfatal firearm crimes decreased by 69%—from 1993 to 2011.  Firearm-related homicides fell from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, while nonfatal gun crimes decreased from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.  During this same time period, Americans actually increased the number of legally-owned guns by 50%—from about 200 million to roughly 300 million.  So, as Americans actively made the working conditions for criminals more difficult, murder rates by firearm went down.

Also, there is a “free-rider” benefit to those who do not own guns, but who live in neighborhoods with high legal gun ownership; they suffer fewer home invasions than people living in areas with fewer guns.  States that have more permissive policies about where gun owners may carry in public are less likely to have public shootings.

The Dangers of a “Gun-free Zone”

Gun-FreeThe recent shooter at UC-Santa Barbara chose the college campus for a good portion of his killing rampage, because the UC campus is a gun-free zone.

Gun-free zones offer assurances to active shooters that the likelihood someone will shoot back is minimal.  Active shooters are protected by the victim-disarmament policy of gun-free zones.  Police—hired guns—generally arrive too late to substantially reduce the number of murder victims.

In Aurora, Colorado, the murderer had a choice of eight local theaters upon which to visit his wrath.  Only one of the eight cinemas participated in a policy of victim-disarmament.  He went there.

In Sandyhook, the first call to get through to 9-1-1 was placed at 9:35 in the morning, five minutes after the shooter had arrived.  Police were dispatched at 9:36 AM, arrived on the scene at 9:39 AM, and did not enter the school until 9:45, fifteen minutes after the shooter!  The police never fired a shot.  They were too late to stop the shooter before he committed suicide.

manwshotgunCould a good guy with a gun, already at the scene, have stopped the bad guy long before the body count reached as high as it did?  If a person with a concealed weapon had shot an innocent bystander while taking out the shooter, would this not have been a better result than having so many more individuals murdered?  What we have learned from these mass shootings is this: Surrendering your personal right to self-defense in public places actually puts the entire public in jeopardy.

Individual citizens with concealed-weapons—who are 5 ½ times less likely to hit innocent bystanders than the police are, by the way—can stop active shooters sooner than police.

Who Is the Boss, in America?

In a country where a free people would establish government as the servant of the people, the government cannot take away the people’s natural rights.  We the people control the government, not vice-versa.  The government should only act as our agent to do things for us that we already have the right to do for ourselves.

No individual possesses the right to deprive another of his or her right to defend him- or herself, or his or her family.  Once a government is given such a power, the relationship between the government and the governed changes fundamentally, and the people become the servants.

The Police Have No Duty to Protect

In the US, the police have no duty to protect you.  If you dial 9-1-1, and the police do not respond, you have no legal recourse to sue the police.  According to the Supreme Court, the police work not for you, but for the state.  Their obligation is to the state, and they have no legal obligation to show up when you call.

So, who has the responsibility to protect your family, in the case of a home invasion?  According to court ruling after court ruling, from California to New York, it is the duty of the private citizen.  Many a judge has pointed to the Constitution, saying, “That is what the Second Amendment is for.”

The Morality of Self-Defense

After all has been considered—the fact that guns save the lives of more good people than they take, added to the fact that we are blessed to live in a land which promotes the preservation of life—it must be acknowledged that it would be a great evil to take from the people their unalienable right to defend innocent life from criminals.  We must never forget the words of Alexander Hamilton: “Here, sir, the people govern.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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