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Gun Control and the Privileged Few

History teaches us the danger of losing our right to defend ourselves.

One of the hottest issues of the last decade is surely that of gun control. It’s a dividing line in politics, similar to that of abortion, where there appears little middle ground. We’re all familiar with the arguments, they’re played out endlessly on TV and the internet, and these arguments – – fsecrom either side – never seem to persuade. The dominant media is firmly anti-gun, so supporters of the Second Amendment are bombarded with rationales and rhetoric, yet they don’t convince. Why is this?

gun rights protestCould it be because at the heart of the gun debate is not so much a question of what laws can make people safer, but rather that those who support gun ownership know all too well that without a means of defense, tyranny will eventually follow?

I want to talk about two things, firstly, why it is that gun control arguments are ultimately flawed. And second, how the debate on having armed citizens is actually far older than we might think,

Let’s start with a basic question: Does having a gun make the individual safer? This is a pretty simple thing to figure out. How many people were killed by firearms compared with how many were saved? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) actually tracks the cause of death of Americans each year. These figures show that around 11,000 people die from firearms each year in the US…not including suicides; the CDC also shows that there are approximately two and a half million defensive gun uses each year. So around 0.44 %. Of course, there’s no telling if that 99.6% of defensive uses could have ended in death if not for the weapon, but certainly, some of them would have, and likely far more than 0.44%

The next question: Does gun restriction impact the homicide rate? Well, a good pointer on this is the Brady Act. Implemented in 1994, the Brady Act imposed a five day wait period in 32 states. It was brought in because the gun control lobby expected it would result in a decrease in homicides. The results of this experiment compared with the 18 states that didn’t implement it were perhaps to some, not at all surprising:

“Our analyses provide no evidence that implementation of the Brady Act was associated with a reduction in homicide rates. … We find no differences in homicide or firearm homicide rates to adult victims in the 32 states directly subject to the Brady Act provisions compared with the remaining control states.”

There was a decrease in suicides by firearms for men aged over 55, but not an actual decrease in suicide; they just found other ways to end their lives.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter. The majority of people have guns because either A, they want to be able to protect their home and family, or B, because they fear government tyranny.

Those in category A, they’re not wrong. Yes, we have law enforcement, police, detectives, and the like, but in the vast majority of cases, they respond to a crime that has already happened. By then, the damage is done. Sure, they can catch the person who did you wrong, but a betting man might say they would rather their home and family were uninjured or alive, rather than judicial justice meted out after the fact.

Those in category B are often described as alarmists. Politicians tell us that the government would never be tyrannical, that no citizen needs to arm themselves against their benevolent government…Well, let’s be fair, they would say this, wouldn’t they?

Let’s look back in time to one of the world’s first known arguments on the arming of the citizenry and the use of weapon control to see if any progress has been made.

Ancient Roman with weaponIn Ancient Rome, the question of who could own and carry weapons and where was a major issue that we could perhaps learn lessons from today. Unsurprisingly, those who were forbidden from carrying or owning weapons were the slaves. After the Second Servile War in Sicily, slaves were banned from carrying implements that could be used as weapons in the hopes that they would not rise up again against their masters.

While a complete ban came only after the second slave uprising, measures and restrictions were put in place after the First Servile War. We have all heard of Spartacus and his rebellion; it’s been the subject of movies, tv shows. It is one of those historical tales that really stirs the blood, but few people really know about a character of equal interest, a slave who would become a king.

Eunus was a Syrian slave owned by a Greek and serving in Sicily. He had a reputation as a minor miracle worker and prophet. Whether anyone seriously believed these claims is unknown, but he was certainly paraded around by his master to the amusement of his guests. You see, Eunus claimed that he had had a dream that he would one day be a king. Guests of his master would taunt the slave and ask him how he would carry out his kingly duties and feed him scraps of food, insisting that he remember their kindness when he is king.

You can see where this story is going, I’m sure. When the condition of slavery became too much for one group of unfortunates, they turned to Eunus to see if the gods would bless a revolt. He agreed, and they seized what weapons they could…thus beginning the First Servile War. Eunus proved a smart tactician and led his horde to victory, they took over many cities in Sicily, and Eunus declared himself King, taking the name King Antiochus. He founded a government, minted coins, and began building a major army.

In the end, he was, of course, defeated by the Romans; he later died of illness in a prison cell before he could be executed. Those who had risen up against their masters were tortured and killed.

With the Second Servile War, all slaves were banned from carrying weapons.

Several years later, in Rome, the debate raged on.

In 81 BC, the Roman dictator Sulla banned the carrying of weapons in the city. It did not cut down on banditry, and in fact, allowed him to carry out his plots and plans without any resistance. There was a boundary around Rome, an invisible one that people were told was to protect the city’s sanctity, the Pomerium, and weapons were forbidden within this zone. It didn’t stop criminals, of course, who lived with less fear of retaliation.

Just ask Juius Caeser.

Gun control featureThroughout history, the removal of weapons from select groups has often been followed by a reduction of other rights, and in many cases, much worse. This is not to say that one necessarily leads to the other, but it is certainly arguable that the latter is made easier by the former.

In Nazi Germany, Jews were forbidden from owning, trading in, or manufacturing guns, and then came the Holocaust. In Soviet Russia, the farmers, Kulacs, were banned from having weapons and then forced into collectivist farming … those who refused became guests of the gulags.

If the gun control lobby ever gets its way in the United States and removes the right to bear arms, it does not mean that tyranny will automatically follow… it just makes it easier for those who wield tyrannical power over other men to do so.

Read more from Mark Angelides.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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