Two Anecdotes on the Right to Bear Arms

The meaning and policy behind the Second Amendment has a diverse narrative. The legal interpretation from those who reject the plain meaning because they reject the policy is that it’s a right to join the National Guard. Really, the right to join the National Guard shall not be infringed? For others, it’s just the right to have a hunting rifle.

Who needs an AR 15? Last year, Hillary Clinton famously said “nobody.”

To answer that question, just imagine Hamas paragliders landing in rural Oregon. Heck, they wouldn’t get very far in my Salem neighborhood. In contrast, Israel follows the National Guard policy model. Social media flows with images of attractive young Israelis toting assault rifles. Those aren’t civilians. They are reservists. Israeli law does not recognize a right to bear arms. The country has relatively strict gun regulations, including an assault weapons ban, a requirement to register ownership with the government, and a limit of one gun per owner. When the Israeli Defense Force is not prepared, their citizens are helpless.

What about when American law enforcement withdraws from your neighborhood, intentionally stops providing the public good of security? That actually happened to our north in the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone). Six blocks of Seattle were conceded to Antifa in 2020, and Andy Ngo writes in Unmasked:

No laws or rules applied here except for one: “No cops allowed.”

Against all logic and reason, CHAZ was allowed by the city to run its course for more than three weeks. It was a large-scale experiment in anarchy, chaos, and brute-force criminality. Various Occupy-type protests have occurred across the United States since the original occupation in Manhattan in 2011, but CHAZ is noteworthy for taking control of such a large and densely populated territory. Toward the end of its twenty-four-day run, there were numerous assaults, robberies, an attempted rape, six shootings, and two homicides.

When the SPD evacuated from the station on June 8, 2020, masked protesters stole city property—barricades, fencing, and more—to create makeshift barriers. These barriers became the official walls around CHAZ. A movement that has border abolishment at the core of its ideology immediately set up its own border to keep out outsiders. To fortify their barricades, armed volunteer allies moved in. They operated as a private militia complete with their own uniforms.

Imagine you had lived in that part of Seattle. You’d need an AR-15. One reason we need the right to bear arms is that it provides distributed security when the central power of the state falls short. This is a real contingency that America’s Second Amendment provides a policy solution.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.