A tale of two religious attacks
Two attacks on religious gatherings in the final days of 2019 illustrate contrasting security policies on the indispensable right to keep and bear arms.
In Monsey, New York, Hasidic Jews were attacked by a machete wielding maniac and tried to defend themselves with furniture. Five victims were wounded and the assailant was later arrested after fleeing the scene.
At a church in White Settlement, Texas, a gunman opened fire with a shotgun killing two members before being dropped within six seconds by a headshot from a reserve sheriff’s deputy who was part of the internal security team.
The two incidents need to be considered as experiments in the social laboratory of political economy provided by differing state level legislation.
In Texas, concealed weapons carry is legal while New York imposes every conceivable obstacle to lawful possession of personal weapons. This contrast cannot be overstated.
A baseline for our analysis is stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution for the United States of America: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Neither state lives up to this basic standard. The militia are not well regulated in either Texas or New York in the original sense of the term.
None of the legislatures, at the state or federal levels, are actively arming, organizing, or disciplining the whole body of the people to be ready to execute the laws, repel invasions, or suppress insurrections, which are clearly designated tasks for the militia of the constitution.
In Texas, the people are at least, after undergoing certain bureaucratic hurdles and paying fees to political offices, permitted to exercise the rights they possessed prior to, and independent of, the existence of any government.
In New York, the victims of attack were reduced to fighting back with household items and pieces of furniture.
On Capital and Combat
This is an important distinction. In real combat, which determines life or death, people use tools. Empty handed fighting is generally a contest of mere sport.
The development of tools is what elevates the human condition. This is the case in all areas of living standards and, most importantly, is equally true in the security of private property, which is the basis of all civilization.
Carving a plot of land out of the wild is what separates subsistent vagabonding from cultivating agriculture and animal husbandry. Doing so with tractors and farm equipment is superior at the task than merely using human hands.
Sun Tzu said that, one must “take it intact” when contending for all under heaven. Keeping things whole is more life affirming than dissipating the means of production. Aside from the inability to conduct rational economic calculation, this is another reason why socialism always fails as a social system and this is also the case in the production of security.
In the production of security, tools are how humans preserve dignity, counter-aggression, and develop resources. Tools are also a category of private property and, therefore, inherent to the self-preservation stated in the first law of nature.
People must carve out private property in order to sustain and protect life. This is true whether it be plucking an apple from a tree in order to nourish the body just as much as it is to building a walled fortress to shield the body from the elements or would be marauders.
Respecting private property, the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, is what separates civilization from bedlam. Acknowledging individual rights to own, use, trade, expend, consume, or discard property is the key differentiating factor between a society that promotes prosperity and harmony from those imposing immiseration and conflict.
The Maximizing State
The American system of federalism depends upon each branch and layer of government to perform only those functions delegated to them. However, people do not discard their human desires when entering pubic office and continue to prefer leisure to labor, authority to impotence, and more to less.
That government actors are constantly seeking to obtain and control more resources for their own use is why they prefer disarmed populations that cannot resist political dominance and predation.
In making a constituency more vulnerable to political plunder, governments that disarm their populations also make people susceptible to other criminal acts. Further, in the pursuit ever increasing control of resources political actors will foment conflict within a population so as to divide and rule.
It should come as no surprise then, under these circumstances, that sensational attacks occur at the hands of deranged individuals. The key difference between what occurred in New York had an entirely different outcome from the Texas incident.
The armed response in Texas shows how violent attacks can be neutralized within seconds and, thereby, minimizing tragedy. The New Yorkers, denied their inherent right to own defensive tools under the first law of nature, were defenseless against an armed homicidal assailant and violence stopped only when when the attacker decided to leave.
Necessary For Securing A Free State
To be sure, the legislative environment in Texas aligns more closely with the first law of nature than New York, yet neither meets the standard for republican self-government.
George Mason stated that the militia consists of the whole body of the people, except for a few public officials.
A well-regulated militia under the constitutional system is armed, organized, and disciplined to carry out the duties of self-government.
These duties consist in executing the laws, repelling invasions, and suppressing insurrections, and whatever arms are suitable for these constitutional tasks are what the Second Amendment prohibits governments from infringing upon the people’s right to keep and bear.
That these governmental institutions, necessary to the security of a free state, are absent from the current social configuration indicates a huge gap for malefactors to exploit. It shows up as criminal attacks as well as political debauchery and the evidence is manifold.
Rather than infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms with prohibitions, restrictions, and licensing schemes, governments should be fulfilling their obligations to arm, organize, and discipline the whole body of the people to execute the laws. This means inculcating martial training and weapons handling into the civic culture.
Stopping attacks, like what occurred in New York and Texas, from the outset requires looking at institutional arrangements in the production of security. The American system of republican federalism depends upon an actively engaged armed population to fulfill the circuit of self-government by serving as the ultimate executors of law.
In an environment where constitutional order actually reigned, and militia were actually well-regulated, attacks like what transpired in New York would look much more like the short work made of the attacker in Texas.