Gun Control versus Self-defense

Self-defense is a primary or fundamental human right. All human persons possess the right to use force, up to and including deadly force, proportionately, against attempted assault which would likely cause serious bodily injury or death. Self-defense can be used against forcible felonies, such as rape and kidnapping, as well. This right is acknowledge in many places by secular laws.

The U.S. Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is a derived or secondary human right. It is derived from the right to self-defense. In so far as you may need a firearm as a means to exercise the fundamental human right of self-defense, you have a right to that means. But derived rights admit of greater restrictions than fundamental rights. So the government can reasonably and morally restrict the right to bear arms more so than the fundamental human right of freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

The right to bear arms is also derived from the right to the pursuit of happiness. If you enjoy hunting or recreational shooting, you should be able to engage in those lawful activities.

The restrictions on firearms that are moral and reasonable depend largely on the circumstances. In the case of a society which is plagued by mass shootings, serial shootings, and violent gun crimes, some persons think that greater restrictions are the solution. I disagree.

Criminals and terrorists are able to obtain firearms, even when these are greatly restricted. So severe restrictions on firearms ownership results in an unarmed populace, which cannot defend itself against violent crimes. And if the police are called, many persons may be killed before the first officer arrives on scene.

If a mass shooter encounters a crowd of people, in a society where many civilians are armed, the crowd is able to defend itself, even if only 5 or 10% of the people have guns. But if the crowd is unarmed, then the attacker kills as many persons as he wishes.

Which restrictions on firearms are reasonable? I would say that civilians should be able to possess semi-automatic and manual firearms, but not fully-automatic guns. The latter are not necessary to self-defense. Universal background checks will not stop gun violence, but it is a reasonable restriction. And that is the problem with many proposed restrictions — they really will not work to stop gun violence. Restrictions on magazine capacities may be reasonable, but probably will have little effect also.

Civilians should be able to own handguns, including semi-automatic and revolver types, and to carry them concealed and/or openly. This right is essential to defend oneself outside of one’s home. Most mass shootings occur in public places, where self-defense requires legal civilian carry of firearms.

The real goal of many gun control advocates is the total disarming of the population, one step at a time. The result is a population which can be preyed upon by criminals, as well as terrorists. The population of Venezuela, at present, is experiencing a high rate of violent crimes; yet the population was disarmed not long ago, so they cannot defend themselves. And the police are overwhelmed by the number of criminals and crimes. Moreover, the government is trampling upon the rights of the people, and they cannot rise up and take control of their own nation and government, as the colonists of American did in the American Revolution.

Every time there is a mass shooting, gun control advocates use that event to call for more restrictions. The restrictions do not work to stop the violence, and so the next gun crime occurs, resulting in ever more restrictions — without benefit. The end result is a population which cannot defend itself.

Thus, any plan for gun control should begin with a set of firearms rights for the population: the right to own and carry semi-automatic handguns; the right to own semi-automatic rifles of any type or caliber; the right to own and use firearms without burdensome regulations. Only when the right to self-defense is acknowledged and protected can restrictions on firearms be reasonable.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
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1 Response to Gun Control versus Self-defense

  1. King Robert the Bruce says:

    I agree here in the UK the population has been disarmed I wish we were allowed to own fire arms like a handgun every man has a right to defend himself his family and his home and this is from someone who considers myself left leaning on most social issues.

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