Monday, January 31, 2011

A Grave Mistake

The Utah state house has approved a bill designating the M1911 sidearm as Utah's official gun. Utah would be the first state in the union to select a state firearm. The M1911 would join the California gull (state bird), Sego Lily (tate flower), and the Blue Spruce (state tree) in Utah's symbolism pantheon. This isn't particularly objectionable. I think that Utahans would prefer if their state legislature focused on restoring the economy, but that's really their responsibility for electing the clowns.

What I do have a problem with is this statement, made by a state legislator in support of the state gun proposal:
“It’s an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years. … This firearm is Utah.”
A gun is not an instrument of freedom. It is an instrument of violence. Violence is antithetical to any civil society, much less one based on the free exchange of ideas. Weapons are coercive instruments which force citizens to fear the police and government. The Egyptian protestors remarkably are not wielding guns in their struggle for freedom from oppression; it is the police and army who have the firearms. The courage of the protestors is in overcoming the threat of force. This courage is the center of democratic society.

Basic social compact theory shows us that the gun is an inappropriate symbol of freedom. The individual loses the need to provide for one's own safety when one joins a political body. The Leviathan assumes responsibility for policing the internal relations and preventing foreign coercion. The gun may be the instrument of individual security, but it is certainly not the means of achieving liberty in a civil society. The gun is an appropriate symbol for escape from civilization, the tool one would use to breach the social contract. If escape is the only freedom available, violence is simply a bad path to achieve liberty. I would prefer that social compact escapees use the exit instead of shooting up the club, but the state legislator who made this comment disagrees. He has idolized a bloodbath as freedom.

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