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why the gun is civilization.
March 23, 2007
by Marko Kloos
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.
When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation…and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
Canadians have a right to self-defence
National Post Lorne Gunter: Canadians have a right to self-defence, even if our officials deny it
Canadian officialdom is conducting an all-out assault against self-defence. Quite simply, few politicians, Crown prosecutors, judges, law professors and police commanders believe ordinary Canadians have any business using force to defend themselves, their loved ones, homes, farms or businesses.
The latest example of the campaign against self-defence comes from southern Ontario. In August, retired crane operator Ian Thomson, who lives near Port Colborne, awoke early in the morning to find masked men attempting to burn his house down with him in it. When he fired at them with a licensed handgun he had stored in a safe, he was charged.
How out-of-touch are police and prosecutors when you are not even allowed to defend yourself and your property from thugs attempting to incinerate you? Their attitude seems to be that it is better to die waiting for police to respond than to take matters into your own hands.
About six years ago, Thomson moved to a rural property near Port Colborne to find peace and quiet. Almost immediately, he had a run-in with his neighbour over the neighbour’s unwillingness to keep his chickens in his own yard. Ever since, tension between the two has escalated.
Then early one Sunday morning last August, three masked men showed up outside Thomson’s home and started lobbing Molotov cocktails at the house while Thomson was inside. A former firearms instructor, Thomson took a revolver from his gun safe, loaded it, then went outside and fired two or three shots in the direction of the arsonists.
Thomson has surveillance cameras around his property. When he gave tapes from them to police to aid their search for the firebombers, police charged him with pointing a firearm and careless storage of firearms. Officers also turned up at his home and confiscated his collection of seven firearms and seized his firearms licence.
Police are so opposed to citizens defending themselves that even if criminals show up at your rural home, far from a police station, and try to burn it to the ground with you inside, you are considered the criminal if you shoot at them. Even if you clearly and obvious believe your life and home to be in imminent danger, officials will not support your attempts to stop your attackers.
There is also the case of David Chen, the Toronto green grocer who was acquitted last year of assault and unlawful confinement for detaining a career criminal he caught shoplifting from his store. Crown prosecutors had so convinced themselves that Chen’s defensive actions posed a greater threat to public order that they offered a lighter sentence to Anthony Bennett, the shoplifter, in return for his testimony against Chen.
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Chen and promised him a new citizen’s-arrest bill would be introduced into Parliament within three to four weeks — shortly after MPs return to work on Jan. 31. The bill is supposed to make it easier for ordinary citizen’s to arrest and detain suspects without falling afoul of the law and having to defend their actions in costly court battles.
Then there is Joseph Singleton, the Taber, Alta. oilfield consultant who returned home to his acreage last May to find his home ransacked and a thief fleeing. When the burglar started ramming his car, Singleton took a hatchet and, with the flat side, hit the thief twice on the side of the face. Without questioning Singleton – based solely on the say-so of the burglar – police last October charged Singleton with assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.
If officials aren’t out to end the right to self-defence, why would they side with the criminals against law-abiding citizens?
Thomson’s case has caused some to call for the entrenchment of the “Castle Doctrine” in Canadian law. Several American states already have such statutes that recognize a person’s home as his or her castle and give homeowners the right to use deadly force to protect their homes, family and property.
Frankly, there’s no need to copy the Americans. Canadians already have the right to use force – even deadly force – to protect themselves, we need simply to return to our legal roots.
When Canada became independent at Confederation in 1867, Canadians retained the rights they had at the time as British subjects. These included three “absolute rights”: the right to personal liberty, the right to private property and the right to self-defence, up to and including the right to kill an attacker or burglar.
William Blackstone, Britain’s famous constitutional expert, argued the right to self-defence included the right to kill even an agent of the king found on one’s property after dark, uninvited. He also traced the right to armed self-defence back to the time of King Canute (995–1035) when subjects could be fined for failing to keep weapons for their own protection.
Even in Upper Canada for much of the 19th Century it was the law that all adult males be armed, at their own expense. In part, this was so a militia could be formed quickly for defence of the colony and in part so individuals were prepared to defend themselves and their property.
These rights have not been extinguished just because Canada has become modernized and urbanized, or because our officials would rather pretend they don’t exist and never have.
To be sure, our right to self-defence is not a licence to kill. The force ordinary citizens may use in self-defence must be proportionate to the threat they face. You cannot shoot someone for poking a finger in your chest or cutting you off in traffic. But the real possibility that attackers might burn you up inside your own home – as they allegedly intended to do to Ian Thomson – would seem to justify shooting at them with a handgun, even if you end up killing them.
The right to self-defence conflicts with the belief modern lovers of big government have that only the military and police should be allowed to use force, so self-defence has to be treated as a crime.
In truth, it is an individual right that existed before government and, so, cannot be extinguished by government.
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