There Is Only One “Law”
Yesterday’s commentary on the Justin Bourque story created quite the stir. In case you haven’t read my thoughts on the matter, I’ll summarize by saying that Bourque was basically walking down the street with rifles, and since police had come to disarm and kidnap him, he was rightfully defending himself by killing them. Now of course, the commentary that comes in response to such a statement runs the gamut, but for now I want to focus on one particular subset. People who support “gun rights” but not the forceful defense thereof.
People would say “It’s against the law to open carry rifles there! Of course the police came after him!”. I agree with this statement, of course. If the issue were that Justin acted surprised, I’d also say he had no right to act surprised. No more than if he knowingly walked through some gang neighborhood wearing the colors of the gang’s rivals. There are neighborhoods like that in New York, where you don’t dare wear blue or red while walking through some places, for fear of being attacked.
There’s a big difference between knowing that something will happen, and having no right to defend yourself against it, however. If somebody decided to knowingly walk through a neighborhood controlled by Bloods while wearing blue, we might call that person stupid, we might advise him against it, but we don’t tend to think it’s okay for the Bloods to assault him just for wearing blue.
If he put on his blue outfit, walked down the street with a gun on his belt, and fended off the attackers, we would tend to call him a hero. He defended himself against violent criminals who attacked him for no good reason. Of course he was justified in using whatever level of force was necessary to do this, up to and including killing the attackers.
If he put on his blue outfit, walked down the street with a gun on his belt, and attempted to fend off the attackers but was overpowered and killed, we would call the attackers unjustified murderers. The fact that he wore blue did not give them the right to attack him, and so when he pulled out his gun to defend himself, their only moral option was to back off. No reasonable person recognizes a right to defend oneself against self defense.
There’s this bizarre exception that people make for police though. Justin had every right to carry a rifle. Anybody who stands up for “gun rights” necessarily understands this. Rights do not come from laws, but rather, laws (in theory) are supposed to protect rights. Everything Adolf Hitler did was legal. That does not mean he had any right to put Jews into concentration camps and gas chambers. It does not mean Jews had no right to live and be free. It only means that “the law” violated their rights.
Likewise, Justin has every right to carry a rifle. “The law” said otherwise. This only means that “the law” violates Justin’s right to self defense. “The law” only violates his right to do as he sees fit with his property. By enforcing “the law” police aggress against Justin, and Justin has every right to use force to defend himself.
There’s some place for discussion of proportionality of force here, but what proportionality can an individual bring to all the forces of the State? When police show up with guns drawn, the force dial has already been turned up to 11. You can’t wrestle your way out of this, they came with the goal of capturing you, and failing that they will kill you. There really isn’t any two ways about it. When police come, your options are to submit, kill, or be killed.
Now, just like the example of walking through the gang neighborhood wearing certain colors, we might say Justin shouldn’t carry his rifle down the street for his own safety. We can say “that’s crazy” or “that’s stupid” but we can’t say “that’s wrong” or “that’s immoral” just because some group of people decided they would use violence against him.
If some majority of people in the neighborhood accept the gang’s presence, be it to keep order, to fend off other gangs, or just out of fear, then we can say that they have just as much of a right to set and enforce rules for that neighborhood as a government does. That is to say, neither has any such right.
There is only one law, non aggression. Nobody has any right to initiate force against another person. The only legitimate use of violence is in defense of person or property. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Bloods, the Crips, or the State. It doesn’t matter if it’s guns, drugs, drinking and driving, or wearing blue in the wrong neighborhood. Once you cross that line of aggression, you put your life in the hands of your victim. There is no uniform, color, document, or popularity contest that will change this fact.
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