Other letter writers to this newspaper, who like me favor retention of Oak Park‘s handgun ban, tend to use “public health”-type arguments. For example, they will cite statistics of death and injury due to accidental discharge of weapons in support of the gun ban. These kinds of public health arguments are akin to arguments in favor of smoking bans or in favor of mandatory wearing of motorcycle helmets. And they have all the strengths and weaknesses of those arguments.

To me there is a much more powerful, philosophical argument in favor of bans on private gun ownership that goes to the very heart of concepts of ordered liberty in a democratic society: the right of the people to delegate a legitimate monopoly of armed force to our democratically-elected representatives and to the authorities who report to those representatives, such as our armed forces and our municipal police. Some would probably go further and state that it is prerequisite of any sovereign state that it possess a monopoly on the use of violence. But in a democracy, the argument seems especially persuasive.

I believe the
United States may be the only nation in the world that has interpreted its laws as permitting individual private ownership of shot and bullet-firing gunpowder weapons. No other sovereign entity is willing to recognize an independent citizen’s right to possess the means of wielding a mechanical force as violent and destructive as gunpowder weaponry.

I suspect that when the
United States has engaged in overseas “nation-building” exercises, whether in postwar Germany and Japan, or in Iraq or Afghanistan today, we have been unlikely to insist that the basic laws of these lands include provisions for the right of an individual citizen to keep and bear arms. The opposite is likely true. My sense is that the U.S. and other international bodies are doing everything we can to get guns out of the hands of individual citizens and their irregular militias, and to restore a monopoly of armed force into the hands of the struggling legitimate governments of those war-torn lands.

Christopher Damon

Oak Park

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