"The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. Unrestrained political authority, though it be confided to masses, cannot be trusted without positive limitations, men in bodies being but an aggregation of the passions, weaknesses and interests of men as individuals." ~ James Fenimore Cooper
The Failure of the Second Amendment
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(It is not the purpose of this article to promote violence.)
Gun rights advocates often point out that the purpose of having access to firearms is not just to keep the occasional thief of murderer at bay but also to be used as a check on government. The idea is that an armed citizenry can and would scare off the state in case it became too tyrannical.
The problem with the view that 'guns will keep us free' is that if the majority of the population does not want freedom, then no amount of private gun ownership will make a difference. Indeed, this is what is happening today in the United States. There are millions of firearms in private hands yet the government continues to violate more rights as it grows ever more powerful.
Gun ownership has, however, served its purpose. There are thousands of defensive gun uses and many lives have been saved because of them. Burglars, for example, have to think about the possibility of the homeowner being armed and willing to use a 12-gauge to defend life and property.
But use of privately owned guns against ordinary ('private') criminals is just part of the equation. Why is it that throughout the history of the United States, given the availability of guns, the government has not grown smaller and smaller? By now we should be the freest people on the planet!
The answer has to do with ideology. When most of society is composed of people who support state actions, then nothing will change even if they themselves own firearms. It is not an exaggeration to say that more than 99% of people are socialist. They are socialist to the degree that they implicitly or explicitly support any and all government programs. If you support universal healthcare, you are a medicinal socialist; if you love the government military, you are a defense socialist; and if you want sanctions, tariffs, subsidies, taxes, licenses and regulations, you are a plain old Red.
Since these ideologies all coexist in the same society, it is rarely ever possible to find even one issue that everyone can agree on. And because it's so difficult to find that one issue, when people are prosecuted for non-crimes (such as tax evasion or drug entrepreneurship), there is nothing remotely close to a consensus and therefore the 'criminal' will be seen as a menace to society. There will be no one major group of people who will oppose the multitude of ways the state oppresses us. This is the reason why an armed society is totally useless. Government worship, statolatry, rules.
Gun ownership by itself is in the long term incapable of changing the power of the government. What society needs are intellectual weapons instead. There is nothing more disarming than the desire to be free. Opposition and resistance by millions is worth more than a few armed rebels. The role of the armed rebels is important, of course, but they can only thrive when the majority of the population supports the ideals of liberty, otherwise they would themselves be seen as criminals.
It seems that the U.S. is going to continue becoming more despotic, both domestically and internationally, at least for a few more decades. What's ironic is that this nation will have hundreds of millions of slaves and those slaves will be heavily armed with hundreds of millions of firearms, yet they will choose to continue to be slaves. What a shame.