A right or privilege?

By David Rogers

“An armed citizenry is governed, and unarmed citizenry is ruled.” The National Rifle Association

As expected, following the New Zealand shootings, their Prime Minister announced a ban on all semi-automatic weapons as a response. Couched in the rhetoric of “safety” this ban uses the usual ineffective approach to such issues. In the United States, we have the protections of the Second Amendment. The fundamental question that needs to be answered is whether gun ownership as a method of self-defense is a right or a privilege.

There are several disturbing trends around the shooting itself, raising questions, as many journalists have asked, about the potential false flag nature of the event. The complete blackout on all information surrounding the event or the alleged perpetrator only stokes speculation. The end result, apart from numerous shattered lives, is the political flashpoint leftist savor to remove guns and gun rights from the citizenry. Is New Zealand justified in such actions and should such measures, as many pundits have suggested, be implemented in the United States.

The rhetoric, emotions, tragic consequences and other turmoil surrounding gun violence revolve around two basic questions. Do we have a “natural” or “God-given” right to defend ourselves and our property? And if that right exists, should we not naturally have access to the tools of defense at least equivalent to adversaries that might seek to deprive us of life, liberty or property? Or is any such access to the methods of defense a privilege that should be regulated and granted by the state?

The debate over the wording of the Second Amendment aside, what seems to be the original intent of the Framers of our Constitution? A broad perusal of history strongly suggests they came down on the side of natural rights. This is the most logical perspective. History has a bleak record over the last hundred years or so of governments that viewed firearms as a privilege. Over one hundred million people were killed at the hands of their own governments in the past century. In every case, those people were disarmed prior to the internal genocides.

The NRA keeps very detailed records of gun incidents in the United States. For every crime committed with a firearm, there are dozens prevented by firearms. Strictly numerically speaking, the gun as a tool of defense has far more passing grades than demerits. Such facts do not assuage the grief of gun crime victims. But it should give pause to policymakers who believe, as New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ardern advocates, that the rights of the many should be rescinded to calm the fears of a few.

Some may point out that the New Zealand ban was for AR-15 “military-style rifles”, but in fact, it goes after all semi-automatic action based weapons. That encompasses the large majority of modern firearms which are predominantly magazine fed semi-automatic actions. The entire premise for vilifying such weapons is flawed. Perhaps twelve year combat veteran, firearms training expert and NRA spokesperson Dom Raso explains it best when he states: “What does it say to you when I, a veteran Navy Seal, someone who trains on every conceivable firearm platform, someone who is more prepared for and more capable in a firefight than almost every American alive, turns to the AR-15 to defend my family”. Raso understands, as does anyone who trains professionally with firearms, that a gun is simply a tool. It is no more effective or deadly than the individual operating it. You can view Raso’s full opinion here:


A recent Deseret News article by Emily Hoeven reported on the New Zealand incidents and quoted extensively from Philip Alpers of gunpolicy.org. The general gist of the article asked: “what would it take for the U.S to follow New Zealand’s example in gun control”. Alpers’ third of three pillars of gun control declares that “the presumption in law is that firearm ownership is a conditional privilege”. And indeed that is the crux of the debate. You can read the article here:


If in fact the right to defense of self and property is a natural right, we should tread very lightly where gun rights are concerned. In this specific principle, I believe the Constitution and supporters of the Second Amendment have it right. If it is considered a privilege, then supporters of this concept should be willing to accept the consequences when an unsympathetic state removes the ability of defend against molestation. And let us remember, criminals generally could care less about any gun laws. We should thoughtfully continue to support the rights our Second Amendment grants us.

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