Has it ever occurred to you that the laws don’t protect the law-abiding? The honest man or woman has no need of laws. I’m not talking about the organizational rules. We all need to know to drive on the right side of the road and to come to a stop when we see the red octagonal sign. I’m talking about criminal law.
I’m not going to kill someone without reasonable justification. That has nothing to do with what the law says. That has to do with the fact that it’s immoral to kill someone without having reasonable justification. The punishment could be instant death or it could be a $20 fine, I’m still not going to be a murderer.
The sort of people who will kill others without a reasonable justification aren’t going to be dissuaded by a law either. There are a small few who might be put off by the chance of serious punishment, but as we’ve seen, something like 2/3rds of all killers have previous criminal records. These are people who don’t really care what the law says. They break all the laws, so the law against murder really isn’t something they care about.
So what is the purpose of law? The gun control wackos screech that our argument, “criminals won’t obey gun laws” is just advocating “anarchism.” We keep telling them that only the law-abiding follow the laws, so more laws that limit only the law-abiding only make the law-abiding less able to defend themselves. So if the law won’t stop criminals from doing bad things, what is it good for?
The law isn’t to stop criminals from killing people. It’s to stop you and me from killing criminals.
The shift from weregild or private revenge to punishment by the state no doubt represents an important social advance. But it ought to be thought of as a bargain, with the state standing in for the Lord and saying to the victim and his family, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” That bargain, once made, must be kept. Otherwise we have the opening scene of The Godfather, where the undertaker goes to Don Corleone for the vengeance the state has failed to provide.
What we’ve done in our civilized society is trade our natural right to private vengeance for public justice. We accept that we do not track down and kill criminals ourselves, and that the government accepts responsibility to track them down and administer justice to them.
There are several reasons why this is a good idea. First, just from an efficiency standpoint, dropping your whole life, learning how to identify and track down the one who wronged you, and revenging yourself on him is a waste of resources. Much more efficient to support a corps of people trained in this sort of thing. Secondly, by removing the personal element and allowing non-involved strangers to do the work we expect justice that is impartial. Angry family members are not noted for carefully weighing evidence before shooting or hanging suspects. It is never justice when an innocent person pays the price for a criminal’s actions. Thirdly, and most importantly, when justice is publicly applied, it is far less likely to end in some sort of blood feud. Endless tit-for-tat revenge killings don’t make for justice nor do they offer a stable environment for a society to prosper. If you don’t believe me, go to Somalia and ask around.
When we say that more gun laws will not affect criminals, we are simply stating the facts. Gun laws are anything from an inconvenience to an outright abridgement of our rights. They prevent us from purchasing, owning, and using firearms while doing nothing to stop the criminals. This isn’t an argument for getting rid of every law. “More law” does not equal “better law.”
Laws protect the law-breaker, not the law abider. No amount of law will prevent a criminal or crazy from raping, robbing, or murdering. It will prevent me from personally exacting “justice” upon those people. It will guide how I respond to a person who commits those crimes, but it won’t stop them from being committed in the first place.
I get a kick out of those fools who try to undermine our entire system of government by ignoring the Constitution. The Second Amendment is clear. I, being part of “the people” have a right to keep and bear arms, which “shall not be infringed.” Trying to infringe it makes you an enemy of the Constitution. Most importantly, it means that your actions are not the legitimate actions of a legitimate government chartered by that Constitution.
What kind of person seriously thinks that the answer is ever more laws on the citizens by a government unmoored by that government’s founding document? More laws for me and none for them?
That is “anarchy.” When the law is not based upon the enumerated powers of the government, when the law is not limited by the limits imposed by the Bill of Rights, when the law finally breaks down into “do what I say or else,” then we have no law. The people calling us “anarchists” for refusing stupid laws are themselves anarchists for undermining the legitimacy of the entire government by ignoring the Constitution.
They should remember that once public justice fails, we will have to revert to private vengeance. We keep telling them that they shouldn’t sow the wind. They just refuse to listen.