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The Right to Self-Defense

(Part 1 of "Second Amendment and Gun Control")

Here, we start getting into a more murky area. Generally speaking, no one questions the right of individuals to defend themselves and their families against an aggressor whether physically, socially, or politically. But (as is so often the case) there is sometimes a subtle distinction between which party is an aggressor and which is a defender.

The saying goes that "no one likes a bully", but a view of almost any schoolyard altercation contradicts that statement. In psychology and sociology, there are a few reasons that some people like bullies:

  • A sense of belonging: some people feel good to be part of the bully's in-group. The bully taps into their desire to be part of a group that shares a common identity and excludes others. Being part of an in-group can boost one's self-esteem and sense of belonging.
  • A sense of self-preservation and survival: some people fear becoming a target themselves. Laughing with a bully or supporting their actions can protect them from incurring the bully's wrath.
  • Self-defense in the form of "projection": some people have a hidden cruelty streak that they loathe and do not want to admit or express themselves. Supporting a bully is a perfect way to vicariously vent those negative emotions without having to actually take responsibility for those emotions themselves. Thus, they attribute their own unacceptable feelings or impulses to someone else.
  • Self-defense in the form of "identification": some people admire the bully's power and lack of restraints. They may adopt the characteristics or behaviors of the bully, whom they perceive as someone who is more powerful or influential. Bullies generally tend to lack the restraints of empathy, remorse, and emotional control. They are willing to harm others to get what they want, and some people may see this as a sign of strength and confidence, and thus, aspire to be like them.
  • Coercion or manipulation: some people are persuaded by the bully's stories and lies. Bullies often tell a great story that is simple and compelling, yet usually false, about their victims leading people to side with the bully. Thus, the bully influences or controls others through deception, coercion, and/or persuasion.

So, returning to the idea of a subtle distinction between which party is an aggressor and which is a defender, much of the distinction resides in which group the observer identifies with. If they are part of the bully's cadre, they may see any action against their group as requiring "defense" against an outside aggressor, but if they are outside of the bully's cadre, they may see any action by the bully's group as one of aggression against which they are obligated to defend.

This is why I prefer the principle of non-aggression in self-defense; "do no harm through force or threat of force, but be able to defend yourself and your loved ones against an outside aggressor".

Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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