Good Arguments Defeat Bad Government

The right to bear arms in America has always been a matter of controversy. What some Europeans fail to appreciate is that the people who wish to exercise the right to bear arms do not just want to do so to protect themselves from robbers and murderers and rapists. They also fear the government and want to protect themselves from the government and government interference. Traditionally, the right to bear arms is associated with the American Revolution when the fact that the people did bear arms enabled them to successfully revolt against the British.

Today things have changed; the arms have become more complicated and more lethal capable of firing many bullets quickly and bringing death to many people rapidly. The government has also changed and although the American government is still a government voted by the people and is apparently a government for the people the truth is the government frequently comes into conflict with the people. I have no doubt there are some Americans who feel that their right to bear arms is one way of protecting themselves from the effects of big government.

The recent debates in America about health care shows just how much many Americans resent the government and are suspicious of it and will not accept interference by the government with their own personal freedom even for what may be regarded as the best of causes. Therefore, the theory goes, the right to bear arms is one of the checks and balances against big government.

Of course, the people who wish to bear arms to protect themselves against the excesses of government are quite mistaken. Even an arsenal of Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades and bombs will not protect a citizen should that citizen come into conflict with government. Whatever weapons citizen may have a government will have a better bigger more accurate weapons which can be fired virtually without risk to the operator’s. I suppose the concept of an American fighting against government intrusion by barricading himself in his home firing on the forces of government outside that come to oppress him is a caricature which supports the rationale of the right to bear arms.

In practice the things are very different. The American government may quite simply send in a drone and thus obliterate the troublesome citizen. In this sense weapons are not really a defence against bigger and more powerful weapons by a well organised force. If the American government starts to oppress the American people and the American people probably only have two ways of countering the oppression.

The first way is the traditional one; as in the Vietnam War and in many other conflicts that people can go underground and fight in the way that the people who matter we describe as terrorists are fighting today. This simply means more death more conflict and the start of a human tragedy.

The second way, although traditional, can now use non-traditional means. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword and the mobile phone, computer keyboard and social media networks are mightier than all the drones, bombs, and other weapons of government. If Americans are worried about state intrusion (and recent disclosures about the National Security agency collecting metadata show there is cause to worry), then Americans should abandon their personal weapons and fight with words and intellect because ultimately good arguments defeat bad government.

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