Our country remains deeply divided on not only gun rights, but on what rights are in general. We have enjoyed decades or relative prosperity to the point that we have completely conflated the concept of rights and entitlements. This conflation manifests itself in the anti-rights debates in our country in some fairly peculiar ways that, when analyzed, fail to pass muster on validity to curtail the right. Here are some examples:
False: “I have the right to feel safe.”
Actually, you do. But even better than having this right, you have complete control over how you feel about something. Through thought, analysis, and simple control of emotion, you can completely adjust how you feel.
I once had a coworker who went through a routine every time he was given a new assignment. Step 1 of his project always seemed to be pre-populating his list of excuses why he will fail. He pointed out aggressive deadlines (they actually weren’t, but his work ethic caused them to be), supposed equipment conflicts (someone else is using the equipment I need), anticipated vacations that he had not yet put in for, probable excessive sick time he’s known for taking, lack of support from the development team (they were actually incredibly responsive), and even more.
The point is, he had a lack of control over his emotions, and was very vulnerable as a result. Had this coworker taken the time to understand the project fully, worked with the other testing personnel on some basic scheduling, and been willing to put in the effort necessary to diligently, but not break-neck, work towards his goal, he would have easily accomplished his project milestones.
Similarly, in view of our society as a whole, if there is something making you feel unsafe, you can either succumb to the emotion of fear and demand the government allay that fear by restricting the rights of others, or you can do something to address the fears, such as training, risk assessment, or more.
Those that utter “I have the right to feel safe” do so in an attempt to create a false obligation in others.
Instead, those that utter this line do so in an attempt to create a false obligation in others to manage their emotional state for them. No right may create an obligation in others. No one is required to coddle you and make you feel better. No one is obligated to give up their property to help you manage your emotions that you are proving you cannot manage on your own.
False: “I have the right to not be harmed and that trumps your right to own guns”
First, I am not entirely sure a person has the right to not be harmed. It may be pure semantics and I am open to debate on this, but a person, by their mere existence, has the right to avoid harm, but I’m not sure they have the right to not be harmed. The reason I suggest this is because the right to not be harmed creates an obligation to the universe to do no harm to the person. The universe does not obey that obligation. (As an aside, people do not have the right to harm others, in general, but we’ll get to that…)
Therefore, a person has the right to avoid harm. A rabbit has the right to run from a fox, but the rabbit cannot simply sit there and say “Sorry bruh, you don’t have the right to chow on my eyeballs” and expect the fox to slink off into the woods. Likewise, a person has the right to self defense. Through the means they are capable of, whether fight, flight, posture, or submit (people don’t ‘choose’ to freeze), they may attempt to avoid harm.
This being said, the person that erroneously equate another’s gun ownership to their potential harm attempts to create the obligation that someone else is responsible for their state of well being. They are not. This erroneous equivalency attempts to remove actual rights to own things to bolster a supposed right to not be harmed, while they shirk their actual right to avoid harm through their own means. Their supposed right to not be harmed creates an obligation in others to remove dangerous things, therefore it is not a right.
The allocation of risk
Politicians attempt to balance “managing the herd” with “getting reelected”, and this regularly creates a conflict of interest. If a politician were to hear a constituent say “I have the right to feel safe!” and reply with “No, you don’t!”, he would be vilified in the media and probably not get reelected, even though he was absolutely, entirely correct. Therefore, we will likely never see a society where our true rights are respected AND false rights are dismissed. It is because of that, we have gun control debates.
We must therefore come to the realization that to respect rights AND health of the populace, we must allocate risk appropriately. Simply put, as a peaceable protector, the in-the-moment value of a person’s life is inversely proportional to the level of force they are using against you.
The in-the-moment value of a person’s life is inversely proportional to the level of force they are using against you.
For the non-math oriented folks, inversely proportional means that as one value goes up, the other goes down. In this case, as the amount of force someone attacking you with goes up (they are threatening you with greater and greater harm), the value of the attacker’s life goes down.
This can be an incredibly unnerving thing to hear and come to grips with, but it is instinctively understood. If we are getting yelled at, chastised, or berated, we will likely either yell back, apologize, or move on. We are having verbal force used on us, which is not life threatening, and we are unlikely to escalate further because we generally don’t want to harm others. We may think ill-will of our tormentor but we do not necessarily wish to see them dead.
If that force is increased, and we are getting shoved, assaulted, or punched, we will do so in return to negate the threat. We are unlikely to escalate beyond what is necessary or what we perceive the level of harm being. As decent people we generally value peoples’ lives. Again, there may be emotional turmoil around the event, but we are unlikely to rush right to killing our attacker. There is more force being used against us, and we are willing to inflict greater harm on our attacker.
Most of us, if faced with threat of great bodily harm, will protect ourselves with the necessary force to stop it. If our child is being attacked or kidnapped, we will most likely use whatever force necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen. If we have a bat, a knife, a halberd, or a firearm, we will use it to the best of our proficiency to ensure we or our loved ones are not killed. Our regard for the attacker’s life drops to very low levels, and we hold their life nearly valueless compared to that of our loved ones.
Is there any sane person that would say “I took the beating because I didn’t want to harm my attacker”? What about “I let the kidnapper take my 13 year old daughter because I respect the kidnapper’s life”? As stark and blatant as it is, when we or our loved ones are faced with harm, we will do what is necessary to protect them, at the expense of the attacker. The attacker chose this level of consequence, we did not. It is the attacker that has chosen that the value of their life is inversely proportional to the force they are using against us.
It is the attacker that has chosen that the value of their life is inversely proportional to the force they are using against us.
As an aside, the attacker’s life value never drops to zero because it is ethical to neutralize the threat only, not to kill the attacker. Our application of force must cease when that threat is neutralized.
The failure of a gun-control governance
The failure of anti-rights politicians is that they listen to the false rights of the herd when making policy, without properly allocating the risk. All policy for the governance of a peaceable people must allocate risk to the evil-doer and not to the peaceable.
All policy for the governance of a peaceable people must allocate risk to the evil-doer and not to the peaceable.
In the case of anti-rights politicians outlawing firearms, it should be understood as axiom that the law will affect the law-abiding far more than the criminal. The law has created a state where the criminal now has a far superior potential of force to wield than the law-abider. The politician has failed his constituency by creating a vulnerability where the peaceable person’s life is far more at risk than the criminal, and the criminal may act with increased impunity.
Politician either naively believe , or they lie, that if the gun is taken away from the people, then all the statistics around gun violence will stop and those homicides will not occur. In reality, they will decline slightly (because the firearm does not rely on strength to wield effectively) but many of these homicides will shift to a different weapon type.
Additionally, many statistics around homicides do not take into account ‘justifiable homicide’. These are the instances when a firearm is used in a protective manner and a criminal was shot and killed while committing a crime. These instances show up as homicides. When a politician or government enacting gun control claims a decrease in firearm homicides, they rarely mention that a portion of that decline was from defensive gun use, and the defender may have incurred far more harm than if he had a gun to protect himself.
The root cause
Hopefully I wrote something above that infuriated you. That sentence was “Politicians attempt to balance ‘managing the herd’ with ‘getting reelected'”.
We are not a herd.
In an ideal world, the politician is not managing us as a herd, because we are individuals with individual rights. The politician should be managing a system that ultimately respects the true rights of the individual people that make up the populace.
The very notion that people need managing and that a politician is empowered to dole rights out or take away is a problem. The fact that so many believe it is actually government’s prerogative to do this is the root cause of the problem.
We, as a people, must tell government “No. That is my right. You are not taking it.” We must force all policy to allocate risk to the criminal and not to the peaceable.