The development and use of weapons and more specifically firearms runs parallel to the development of mankind and human society. In prehistoric times mankind had to forage & hunt for sustenance. When hunting small & big animals some sort of weapon greatly improved their chances of feeding themselves and their families hence improving the chance of survival. Weapons also aided in the defence of their territory and their food stores (if they had any). Weapons such as rocks, spears, axes etc. served as a force multiplier and one can argue that these weapons were one of the attributes which gave early humans an edge over other species and put them on an early path to the top of the food-chain. As mankind developed and evolved growing from hunter/gatherer groups to farming and eventually industrial society weapons developed at an ever increasing rate. We went from rocks and spears to arrows and the first firearm, the fire-lance, making its appearance in the mid 10th century. Since development has taken us all the way to ICBM’s and beyond. However all these weapons were in essence only a tool, or a means, of delivering a projectile. Said projectile was launched either to defend ones territory or to kill prey for hunting/feeding purposes. A firearm has never been, was never designed to and has never been able to autonomously kill people. There was always human thought behind the use, aiming and firing of said weapon.
Throughout the centuries as we developed into more cohesive and civilised society certain duties were abdicated from the individual to the collective (community or state). Instead of every person or family gathering or hunting their own food we had butchers, bakers and greengrocers. To defend our communities we had volunteer watchmen, militias and eventually a state run police force and military. With this the actual “need” for every person to own a firearm decreased to the stage where, at least in Western society, the number of firearms owners on a whole is a minority. However what has evolved out of this is that governments now do not want individuals to own firearms for the simple reason that a armed citizenry potentially has more power to rise up against a corrupt government than a society which has been effectively disarmed. History is full of examples where despots made it their priority to disarm the citizens they oppressed. This disarmament has been achieved not only by very strict laws on private firearms ownership but also by using the media to portray people who do own or want to own firearms as deranged and crazy individuals. It has come to the point where in certain company you would be scorned less for defecating on the dining table than admitting that you own a firearm.
The discussion about a persons “right to bear arms” has been an extremely hot topic in the USA recently with Obama constantly throwing petrol on the flames by ignoring the US constitution and issuing unconstitutional (and undemocratic) executive orders. But let’s not just focus on the US as the 2nd amendment of their constitution (which makes the right to bear arm a constitutional one) puts them in an unique position. However over on this side of the Atlantic the debate has now flared up in Ireland where the Irish politician Michael Healy-Rea last week made a statement that people living in rural areas should be allowed to own a firearms for self defence purposes. This following the recent drastic rise in crime especially in rural areas. This rise is following severe cuts in the Irish police force’s budget. This raises the question that if the government fails in its commitment to protect its citizens should those citizens then be allowed to reclaim their natural right to self-protection? Because that is the real crux; the government does not have the right to decide whether it’s citizens have the right to own firearms. That right is naturally the citizens right and has only been temporarily been given up in exchange for protection by the state. However as with any contract if one party defaults then the whole of the agreement becomes void. The right to bear arms is one that the government has no right to bestow. As with all natural rights its something that the government might manage but the only “right” a government has is to ensure that firearms are not owned or carried by people who are not fit to do so. So rather than police who is allowed to own firearms the reverse should be true, the state only has the right to police who *is unfit* to own firearms. The practicalities of this need to be clearly defined but I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect that someone who wants to own a firearm posseses a certain proficiency with said firearm especially when it comes to the safe handling and storage of firearms. I know that a lot of my US based friends will disagree with me on this as it would require the registration of firearm owners but I would consider making a bi-annual firearms proficiency test mandatory a good idea. Passing such a test would allow one to own any type of firearms under a certain caliber (I think that a separate licensing for anything over 20mm is not unreasonable).
The above all centers around the logical reasoning that a firearm is only a tool and that without human utilisation a tool is an inanimate object incapable of doing any harm. Restricting responsible adults who have proven to be compos mentis to own a firearm infringes on their natural rights and hence is an undemocratic and in-tolerable act. It’s a governments duty to protects its citizens not to restrict or nanny them.