Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Second Amendment and the Doctrine of Probable Use

There are frequent discussions of whether to limit the ownership of various kinds of weapons such as assault rifles, machine guns and the like. The discussion on this topic has been historically illiterate and has failed to contemplate the fundamental reason for the ownership of guns. Guns are necessary for the public militia to protect the people from state tyranny. Hamilton noted this in the Federalist 29 and the Second Amendment makes this clear when it says that a well regulated militia is necessary for the defense of a free state.

Since the purpose of the right to bear arms is largely to protect the public from state tyranny, the public ought to have the right to own weapons that are at least equal to weapons that the state would probably use in an assault on the public to re-enforce tyranny. Thus, if tanks are likely to be used against the public in a rural area, the public militia ought to have the right to own tanks.

Rifles used against tanks would hardly be effective for the defense of a free state. All legal discussion that fails to balance the weapons that the government might use against the people with the threat that private ownership poses to the public is illegitimate and does violence to the Second Amendment. The government's probable use of a given class of weapons against the public ought to be the basis for the legality of gun ownership.

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