Thursday, January 13, 2011

In Defense of Self-Defense and the Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Noted for the concept of the separation of powers, so highly regarded by our republic's founders that they based our Constitution on the idea, Montesquieu had this to say about self defense:
The life of governments is like that of man. The latter has a right to kill in case of natural defence: the former have a right to wage war for their own preservation.

In the case of natural defence I have a right to kill, because my life is in respect to me what the life of my antagonist is to him: in the same manner a state wages war because its preservation is like that of any other being.

With individuals the right of natural defence does not imply a necessity of attacking. Instead of attacking they need only have recourse to proper tribunals. They cannot therefore exercise this right of defence but in sudden cases, when immediate death would be the consequence of waiting for the assistance of the law [emphasis added].

Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, 1748 (Nugent, trans. 1750), Book X, 2.

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