In the last couple of months with heated debate on gun control, you can get the impression that the left wants gun control and the right wants none of it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite is the case.
In fact, the United States was founded on the very idea of stringent gun control. In the decades and centuries leading up to the American revolution, enlightenment thinkers had observed that when the power of the gun is concentrated in the hands of the king, it inevitably lead to corruption and tyranny.
In response to this realization, the founding fathers penned the strictest gun control law the world had ever seen: the American constitution.
The Final Threat
Let’s back up for a second. The modern definition of government is the monopoly on violence. It means that the government is the final arbiter in the usage of guns. Consequently, every letter in the law is backed up by the threat of violence. If you disobey the law and refuse to cooperate, ultimately you will have to face police officers with guns.
The founding fathers understood that and used the theory of law by the legal philosopher Montesquieu to argue for the separation of powers. In Montesquieu’s theory, the power of the gun was separated and balanced by three different branches set up as checks and balances – the most advanced system of gun control ever devised on a society-wide scale.
However, based on their recent experiences in the American Revolution, the founding fathers added their unique contribution to the theory of law. They did not separate the power of government into three branches, but implicitly into four. The fourth branch of government is what in the constitution is called the People, and its power is sedimented in the Second Amendment.
A Fourth Branch
The purpose of this fourth branch of government is to prevent the three other branches from descending into despotism. The Second Amendment reads:
“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.”
Notice that the amendment says two things. First, the power of the government (“militia”) should be “well regulated.” In other words, lots of gun control of state power. Second, just to be on the safe side as part of the regulation of the federal powers, the people must not be disarmed.
Also note that the term “militia” refers to the people itself, and yet is also the military. How? The conundrum can be solved by looking at the modern definition of militia: individuals who bring their own guns to form an armed group. As such a militia is always composed of the body of the people, but being “well regulated” by the state, it becomes a military.
The left claims to be against guns, but the opposite is true. They want to remove the gun control that chains down the government, greatly expanding and centralizing that power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats.
Therefore, the next time you enter a gun debate, you should arm yourself with the knowledge that both parties want a slew of regulations that reflect two opposite political visions. The conservatarians want a well-regulated militia and an unregulated people, whereas the radical left wants a well-regulated people and an unregulated militia.