There are many angles to the debate over whether people have the right to keep and bear arms. Gun control advocates like to bicker and haggle over the meaning of the Second Amendment even when our rights exist outside of paper documents. When that doesn’t work they resort to social utility arguments about what’s best for the “good of society.” Or they create propaganda painting gun owners as dangerous anti-social psychopaths.

But all of this is irrelevant and ignores the fundamental question.

Who owns you?

Liberty lovers understand and cherish the principle of self-ownership. That is, that every individual has property in themselves.

They, not the government, are sovereign.

Because people own themselves, they have the right to use the legitimate amount of force or violence necessary to protect themselves against harm as long as they do not violate the rights of others in the process. The debate over modern firearms as the means of self-defense is merely a reflection of our technological advances. People do not debate whether we can own swords or bows and arrows because they are primitive compared to the power of a semi-automatic rifle or pistol. If this debate were to take place 400 years ago they would have been relevant.

As a result, people must be able to adequately match a potential threat with equal or greater force. As technology changes so does the means by which we defend ourselves.

The Second Amendment directly acknowledges the right to keep and bear arms, but it tacitly acknowledges the right to self-defense and by extension the right of self-ownership.

Beneath all their rhetoric and doublespeak and Orwellian terminology gun control advocates do not believe people ultimately own themselves. They believe the government owns them.

Such a claim sounds radical or melodramatic but it makes sense once you closely examine their perspective and their arguments. When they say people shouldn’t be allowed to own certain weapons or they “don’t need them,” they aren’t talking about the government as well. They are talking about private individuals. They speak as though government has the final say on what a person needs in order to protect themselves.

More importantly, when they say “you don’t need” a certain weapon much of the following rationale for that argument revolves around the claim that law enforcement is sufficient to protect you from harm.

Let’s put aside for a moment that one of the purposes of the Second Amendment was to ensure the people could overthrow a tyrannical government. The inevitable conclusion one must arrive from the argument that you don’t need a gun because the government has the sufficient means to protect you is that they have final authority regarding the defense of citizens because it owns them. In other words, the government has total control over what people are allowed to use to legitimately defend themselves.

Mind you, gun control advocates don’t believe government has any sort of obligation to protect people. They only believe the government has the supreme authority, which it may exercise or not at its discretion.They may not protect a citizen but they also have the authority to keep them from protecting themselves.

If gun control advocates believed such an obligation existed, they would be just as adamant about ensuring legal liabilities for when law enforcement fails to adequately protect private citizens for whose well-being they are responsible.

Putting the practical implications of such a belief aside, the Supreme Court ruled in the 2005 case Castle Rock v. Gonzales that state agents do not have any such obligation; their only duty is to enforce the laws in their jurisdiction.

Where is the campaign by gun control advocates to change this? It also begs the question: If the state has no obligation to protect an individual, who does? If no one, why should their ability to protect themselves be constrained in any way if it violates no on else’s rights?

Police abuse and misconduct also occurs throughout the country. Police departments have come to resemble paramilitaries as we saw in Ferguson and Boston.

Where are the demands by gun grabbers to demilitarize the police or disarm officers after shootings? It is telling that the same people who shriek at the sight of a private citizen with a semi-automatic rifle are silent when police dressed in body armor patrol American streets with automatic weapons alongside armored vehicles designed for military warfare.

Let’s go back to one of the common gun control tactics; redefining the Second Amendment to be either a collective right or referring to a state-controlled militia. Their strategy is based on the idea that the amendment, a piece of paper, grants us our ability to do things. A right does not come from a piece of paper. It does not exist only when enough ink has been spilled. A right is an innate part of our existence.

Whether they admit it or not, gun control activists believe the Second Amendment offers privileges and not rights. So if the meaning of the Constitution can be changed, so can the “privileges.”

Again, this conforms to their fundamental premise. Private citizens do not own themselves. The government does.  And as the history of the gun control movement has shown, their objective is disarmament not reducing crime or keeping people safe.

But even if this wasn’t the case and a gun control movement sought only specific and limited restrictions on firearms with sincere intentions, this is still only justifiable under the belief that the state has the last word on what you are allowed to use to defend yourself because it owns you.

Some might say “do you really need (such and such weapon)?” but this question evades the real matter at hand; who gets to decide what weapons you have the right to own?

If the state has the authority to restrict how many bullets you can put into a magazine why should it not have the power to restrict any firearm it deems unsuitable for citizens to keep?

This is not the sort of discussion that occurs between free men but by masters concerning their slaves. Lastly, the Second Amendment is intended to preserve the last resort of a free people unable to suffer from the abuses of their government. Those who want to turn free people into slaves through their government do not want an armed populace. Perhaps this is why gun control advocates fear private citizens as well armed as the government.

It’s why the end result of gun control is at best a soft form of slavery because people who own themselves do not need permission to own the means of protecting themselves, whether it be from another private citizen or their own government.

TJ Martinell