The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Opinion: An Armed Citizenry is Essential to Prevent Violations of the Peoples’ Freedom

From the Promethean discovery of fire to the Kalashnikovian innovations of the modern era, the people have always tried to ensure their safety and welfare via arms. Meanwhile, structures of authority, such as states, have historically taken advantage of their monopoly on violence in order to oppress the people.

Armed populations have often successfully rebelled against such structures. Criminals have also exploited the availability of weapons to accomplish acts of horrific violence, while otherwise non-violent citizens have used weapons to deter them. The misuse of weapons by untrained individuals has also led to catastrophe.

However, if you were to look at the balance sheet, the need for protection and liberty for the many outweighs the mistakes of the foolish, providing a reasonable justification for the people to possess arms to defend themselves against potential threats. But it must be said that the vast power and resources of modern state apparatuses makes the idea of a citizens’ resistance seem futile.

We live in a time and a place that is relatively free, compared to the tyrannies of 19th century monarchies, Nazi Germany, and other fascistic regimes. But this relative freedom has bred complacency when it comes to trust in structures of authority, such as the state and the capitalist system.

Although the current American constitution has checks and balances, if the state were to disregard them and begin implementing authoritarian policies, an unarmed population could do nothing to stop the process. While it could be argued that such thinking is blatant paranoia, one might also argue that such suspicion would have been highly beneficial to the citizens of Mussolini’s Italy, Pinochet’s Chile, and the colonels’ Greece.

Criminals, such as mass shooters and fundamentalist terrorists, already have little to no regard for laws, and are willing and able to go underground to get their hands on weapons and otherwise banned substances. One only has to look at the prohibition of alcohol or cannabis to see the futility of a government ban on gun ownership. A black market would likely develop, creating an enormous, unregulated criminal enterprise growing like a tumor in the heart of every major American city.

If firearms were to be outlawed entirely or if they were significantly more regulated, the law-abiding citizen would find themselves in quite the precarious situation, as they would be left to rely solely on the government for protection, which has been inefficient in preventing criminals from obtaining weapons in the first place.

Even worse, the fear that one might be attacked by a criminal at any time would likely lead to some citizens begging for a privacy-invading authoritarian surveillance state to stop crime. Measures like “stop and frisk” policies, which had statistically targeted minority groups per NYPD annual reports, could become a matter of everyday life.

The real issue isn’t guns – which do not cause crimes on their own. So what does? The plagues of destitution and hunger that have haunted America for years have left a mark on the psyche of the American people, as Charles Dickens had eloquently portrayed in his characterization of Abel Magwitch, who in the novel “Great Expectations” gruesomely threatens a pre-adolescent orphan in industrial England for a slice of pie.

With a lack of sustenance directly related to poverty, and poverty statistically related to crime, it raises an ethical conundrum on where to place the blame; should blame lie with the desperate and starving, or the opressive structures which lead to their hunger, such as poor education, lack of inherited wealth and social constructs. Would the removal of such systemic structures of oppression lead to a substantial decrease in violent crime committed by firearms?

Essentially, a well-armed populace, regardless of disparities between levels of weaponized potentials, and relative to state and private sector super elites, may make for an insignificant yet problematic experience if such structures of authority were to attempt a dictatorial coup.

The criminal elements of society will strive to attain firearms and weapons regardless of legality, as the hungry would attempt to illegally attain bread. Poverty and crime are statistically linked. It is too easy to blame the criminals and their weapons, rather than the intrinsic ethical failings of a capitalist society that allocated them insufficient resources at birth.