I’ve mostly kept my discussion of gun issues in the last week restricted to twitter and social media, but had a few thoughts I wanted to get down.

First, I’m going to be breaking this up, instead of dealing with one large and thorough mega-post like Larry Correia’s epic post.

Second, there are several assumptions I’ll be making, axioms, if you will. The first of these is that we all have a natural right to self-defense. That this right can be oppressed – a government, a person, etc. can take active measures to prevent you from exercising that right, but simply by being alive we can and will try to stay that way, and inaction by a government, organization, or individual cannot remove this right from you. Animals do, and will, especially when cornered, and yes, even criminals do. They will use any means at their disposal, claws, teeth, knives, and of course, guns, to keep from being incarcerated, injured (physically or subjectively), or killed. It’s a universal right – the only thing that anyone needs to exercise it is to be left alone.

A second is that responsibility and authority need to match up. Authority without responsibility for the consequences is the ultimate form of power under “power corrupts”, and responsibility to the whims of another without any authority to take the steps necessary to achieve those goals is rank slavery.

So who is responsible for your safety? Here the answer becomes something like “it depends”.

Sure, you can temporarily walk into a bank or government building where they won’t let you in armed – and most have at least some form of armed guard. The exchange there is obvious – “we’re securing this anyway so you should be OK, we’ve got it.”

Yes, this assumes cops will actually come to help you, more on that later.

Or bodyguards. They may be responsible, to a degree, for your safety, but you pay them because in the end, while (if you’re smart) you take their advice on how to conduct business and go places, you still decide what you’re going to do when, and where, and they can decide if what you’re paying them is worth the hassle. They are extra eyes and hands watching your back while you’re paying attention to other things.

But in the end, it’s still you.

Walking down the street, no-one is watching your back. It’s up to you to be aware of your environment, who is acting sketchy, or like a threat, and avoid them or deal with them. In the courtroom, someone could come in with a grudge and blow away the guard before proceeding into the building. A bodyguard can quit, or miss something, and besides, their responsibility for your safety is offset by the fact that as the boss, and ultimately, as the decider on how much danger you’ll expose yourself to, by your paying them.

In the end, no-one else is responsible for your safety. Sure, some can take partial responsibility, but they are no more able to control the vagaries of fate or third parties than you are. There is no 24/7 bodyguard hulking over you to prevent you from getting hurt, and if you had a “right” to such things, it could not be a universal right, as someone would have to work to be a bodyguard, uncompensated, no matter what crazy things you decided to do. And cops? They’re not legally bound to protect you, and even if they were, they simply cannot do so – even trying would result in a police state blanket of guards that would make the IngSoc tyrants of 1984 blanch. At its brute force crudity if nothing else.

Also, by taking responsibility, they also assume some authority. The cops at city hall can tell you whether or not you can enter, and under what conditions. Hired bodyguards can tell you which way to enter and leave a building, and if you ignore them, can simply resign. Children, not old enough to take responsibility for their own safety, are in turn under the authority of their parents.

Even if that mythical 24/7 bodyguard was possible, they’d have to have a terrifying degree of authority over you in order to guarantee your safety.

Like a prisoner.

Incidentally, this same “government gives you stuff” is exactly why said “generous” governments also end up tyrannical with no recourse over every aspect they so control.

So, assuming we have the right to defend ourselves, and that responsibility and authority have to match, and given that as a practical matter it is simply impossible to provide guards for everyone all of the time no matter where we are, AND that if tried it would result in a horrific police state (also, who watches the guardians?), the only people ultimately responsible for protecting ourselves is, ourselves.

And by corollary, the only people with legitimate authority on how we will protect ourselves is, again, ourselves. A person who will not accept responsibility for protecting me from harm has no authority to tell me how to best prepare myself or insist I take a different path. He has no skin in the game. And I can choose how much authority I’m willing to delegate – because, again, ultimately it is my responsibility to choose what I will and will not accept.

And no, I don’t consider someone saying “well we have cops” to be accepting responsibility. Either he personally watches over me, or hires people to do so. Otherwise he can shut up.

And how far am I willing to trust bodyguards hired by someone else when they may not have my best interests at heart?

In short:

  • I have a right to defend myself.
  • I am responsible for defending myself.
  • The responsibility gives me authority to decide how.
  • I have a right to choose when, how, and to what extent, I will delegate that responsibility, and its concomitant authority.

No, we are not atomized individuals without responsibility to one another, but it is the height of folly to grant authority to someone to tell you how to live your life when they are not responsible to you in turn. Some guy in Maine, or NYC, is not my neighbor, is not my family, will not, cannot have my back. They will not tell me “you can’t have ‘x'”, whether on me at any moment, or in my home.