Why do United States citizens use guns?
“The State is the entity that has a monopoly on violence in a given territory.” There is no assertion more fascist than that, and yet the left, which embezzles everything, managed to discredit as authoritarian any idea that denies that postulate.
The formula is from the sociologist Max Weber, great in other analyzes, but its definition is too German and, despite the author, too French to be universally accepted. On the other hand, it is not real, because criminals use weapons without asking for permission.
The modern states of Europe were formed under the Napoleonic model and in the manner of armies regular, which were appearing with the extinction of the chivalric orders of the Middle Ages. That is why the Europeans forged pyramidal and top-down states and to them – like us, their heirs – it seemed and still seems acceptable that the governmental authority decides who can have weapons.
In the opposite direction, the British colonists in America extended their territory and later defended its independence and the integrity of its citizens mainly thanks to the use of arms by private individuals. Once independence was proclaimed, they resisted for a time having a regular army, given the possibility of a concentration of power that would threaten the nascent democracy.
In order to counter that resistance, James Madison he designed the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which assures citizens the right to keep and bear arms.
The Second Amendment establishes that: “In consideration that a well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the population to keep and bear arms shall not be restricted.”
If it is considered that the first amendment refers to religious freedom and freedom of expression, the importance that the founders gave to this right can be seen. And if it is also taken into account that the list of massacres that some crazy person produces from time to time moves public opinion, but does not manage to restrict the possession of weapons, it must be concluded that there is something deeply rooted in the culture of that nation for it to be hold the the status quo.
The easy answer is always to attribute the the status quo to the lobby of the National Rifle Association; but that simplification confuses the effect with the cause. The first logical question should be: why is the National Rifle Association so powerful? Why do you have millions of members? And that is if only NRA members are counted, but in numerous counties in the United States there are other local associations, such as the National Rifle Association, that organize armed demonstrations whenever there is the slightest threat to the right to have and carry weapons or to the characteristics of weapons that can be purchased or to the establishment of weapons registries.
In 2013, President Barack Obama launched a strong arms restriction initiative, after the terrible Connecticut massacre. Among other things, it consisted of restricting the sale of larger capacity chargers. The United States Patriots Union sent letters to all legislators in various states calling the federal government “a tool of international socialism” and prophesying civil war if projects like that went ahead. The rejection was accompanied by numerous associations that support the possession of weapons and other defenders of individual freedoms.
The reaction proceeds from the premise that tolerance of any restriction, no matter how small, opens the door to a future ban absolute. In this sense, an authority from the association Jews for the Preservation of Weapons Ownership declared in 2013, against Obama’s project, that: “Disarmament does not always lead to genocide and tyranny, but it is the first step.” And that is the predominant concept in more than 65% of the population that owns firearms. It is not only about personal defense against crime, but also about the express refusal to grant political power a monopoly on force.
Stephen Halbrook, like other authors, in a book entitled Let every man be armed, invokes the philosophical support of Aristotle, Cicero and Machiavelli for armed citizenship as a republican expression; but he cites Plato, Bodin, and Hobbes as supporters of monarchical absolutism. Precisely, due to the visceral rejection of centralism, the United States is the country with the most decentralized administration in the world, where most of the activities are local and, preferably, carried out by individuals.
On the other hand, nobody, among the defenders of weapons, believes that the massacres are due to them, because this would be like blaming the instrument and not the alienated person who provokes them. President Ronald Reagan, who was seriously injured during a gun attack, declared after his healing: “It is a horrible truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not disturbed by gun control laws. I have come to know this from my personal experience.”
The right to bear arms is not only a constitutional guarantee, but a “pre-constitutional” right. Private individuals built the United States with their own weapons and deny the government the power to decide whether or not they can have them, because that right existed before the government itself.
Even so, for a long time, the scope of the Second Amendment was discussed in court, because it was argued that the right of individuals was conditional on their joining a militia. The discussion had no practical meaning, because the militias are not government organizations, but private individuals who use their own weapons. In addition to the 50 state militias, which are still civilians, there are more than a thousand throughout the country that have their regulations, hierarchies and training instructions by contract among their members. What happens, for example, in Venezuela, where the rulers massacre an unarmed population, could never happen there.
The discussion in the United States ended with the case Washington DC vs. Heller, when the Supreme Court ruled that the power to keep and bear arms is an individual right, regardless of whether or not the bearer is affiliated with a militia.
Contrary to what happened with the guerrilla in Latin America, which sought to seize power through arms to homogenize society, the right to keep and bear arms is, in the United States, the greatest expression of individualism, in the sense that Alexis de Tocqueville defined it: “They owe nothing to no one; they do not expect, so to speak, anything from anyone; they get used to always considering themselves in isolation and they imagine that their destiny is in their hands”. And among the things that not a few North Americans consider to be in their hands is the defense of life. There is an old popular saying there: “It is better to be judged by twelve than by six.”
How much of all this would be applicable in the rest of America? That is a separate discussion.