“That all men are created equal” is the cornerstone of modern society. This sentiment is however somewhat paradoxical in being both simultaneously true and untrue. The truth flows from the recognition of a necessary commonality of the Natural Rights of all humans. It would be a logical contradiction to assert such rights for oneself whilst simultaneously excluding a grant of that same right on one’s neighbors. Therefore any asserted rights must exist equally for all ipso facto equality of all with respect to their rights.
But upon moving from the philosophical to the physical realm we see that the truth of this statement evaporates. Some people are tall, short, fat, thin, fast, slow, smart, or challenged. We are far from equal. By far the most significant molder of human history has been the strong/weak dichotomy. Throughout history the law of the jungle has ruled virtually all human interactions; the physically strong exploit the physically weak because the gains vastly exceed the costs. The cavemen did it, ancient kings did it, American Indian tribes did it, and the large nation-states of today do it to both those without (via annexation) and within (through taxation). But it is not merely groups that exert violence upon the weak; individual interactions play on this stage all too frequently.
Prior to the existence of guns there were not many options left to the physically weak when confronted with a would-be rapist or mugger. They could run, fight or submit; but being weaker they were destined to lose no matter which route they chose. The invention of the gun changed the balance of power. In short, the gun erases the chasm of physical inequality and puts both the strong and weak on an equal footing. No more must women submit to the designs of the rapist. No more must one choose between being robbed or being nearly beaten to death for resisting.
In a prior article I suggested that a hypothetically ideal world would be one where we could wave a magic wand and all guns would disappear. In retrospect this would be anything but ideal. It would once again permit the physically strong to exploit the physically weak through violence.
Those that argue for total gun prohibitions question the need for anyone to own a weapon. They fail to understand that a violent maniac who kills or wounds an innocent is misusing their weapon no differently then had they used a hammer or knife. No one suggests we outlaw hammers because someone might misuse it because we recognize the utility of the hammer. So what then, if any, is the utility of the gun? Equality. More than any other other invention, the gun makes manifest in the physical world the striven for truth of our highest ideal, that “all men are created equal.”