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Natural Rights: The Missing Arguments of Duty and Competition

2013/05/06

In his NRA address,  Glenn Beck makes a series of compelling, though incomplete arguments in favor of Liberty in general and for the Second Amendment in particular.  Beck wisely notes that Natural rights come with responsibilities and accountability, contrary to the decoupling popular with modern “culture” such as it is.  Yet there was a key argument missing, or better, left incomplete.

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One does not often hear that Rights are Duties, that Duties are Rights.  If this unity is so, a ‘duty’ as such is beyond ‘choice’ in that it has ethical ramifications beyond the moral, beyond the personal.

If one has a Natural Right to freedom of speech (for example,) one has a duty to speak – or at the very minimum, a duty to protect that Right for others. One can not assume the “collective” will secure that Right for one’s self or one’s neighbor; one must assume the Duty personally.  The same applies for the Right to Bear Arms. It is another way of expressing the Duty to Protect others, to Stand for one’s life,  property and one’s Liberty; and to Guard them for those too weak to fend for themselves.

In this understanding, each G-d given Natural Right is also a Commandment.  That is not to say that one must speak or that one must bear arms.  One must speak for the unborn, however, even if one refuses to speak for one’s self.  One must permit others to defend themselves and the helpless though one may be a pacifist.  One is permitted a personal choice yet one may not inflict that choice upon others.

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There is yet another key argument from the viewpoint of competition not raised by Beck but hinted at in the murder-rate statistics he cites.  Statists sell the notion of Monopoly on Violence without ever admitting that in the human condition, monopolies on anything, public or private, have ever in the long run proven desirable. Violence (i.e. firearms) is no exception.  Bill Whittle elsewhere has pointed out that cost/benefit analysis applies in the acknowledgement that a tool such as a firearm may be used for evil.

The petty evil of distributed power has always proven less undesirable than the wholesale slaughter and genocide that inevitably occurs under centralized tyranny. Those Jews to whom Schindler had smuggled guns, those Jews in the Warsaw ghetto who stole German firearms, those Lakota who had had their guns confiscated, those families burned alive at Waco defending theirs…   understood this principle all too well.

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