Is a Hyper-Active Armed Citizenry Actually a Good Thing?

 

As we saw in 2020, the police and fire departments and National Guard often hang back, stand down, and otherwise refuse to deal with destructive rioters and “peaceful protesters.” Kyle Rittenhouse was only one counterforce, a citizen who (however imperfectly) sought to preserve property in the face of gratuitous destruction.

Nevertheless, when the government fails to do its most basic job – keeping the peace – is there not a silver lining? After all, this is only our Republic for as long as we can keep it, for as long as we maintain a desire for, and will to defend, our rights to life, liberty, and property.

Doesn’t government failure give Americans an opportunity to grow up, to be responsible for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities? I recognize, of course, that this makes enemies not only of our rightful enemies, but sometimes also of our government, which instinctively craves a monopoly on the use of force. Nevertheless, I see an opportunity here: when Americans recognize the government is not the answer (whether in police or schools or housing, etc.), do we not have an enhanced opportunity to address problems ourselves?

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    iWe: I recognize, of course, that this makes enemies not only of our rightful enemies, but sometimes also of our government, which instinctively craves a monopoly on the use of force.

    I think rather that we gave them the monopoly in exchange for keeping the peace. If they fail at the latter, they abdicate the former.

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    Korean shopkeepers?

    More Americans carrying guns than ever before while the deaths per firearm rate keeps dropping? 

    Home schooling? 

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    Korean shopkeepers?

    More Americans carrying guns than ever before while the deaths per firearm rate keeps dropping?

    Home schooling?

    France

    Columbia

    Mob justice

    I am all for carry. I am not for police abdication and then relying on citizens.

     

    • #4
  5. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Yes.

    An armed society is a polite society.

    EDIT: The title on this post changed.  I address this in a comment forther below.

    • #5
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Welcome to Vigilante | Batman funny, Batman the animated series, Batman  comic art

    • #6
  7. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    Korean shopkeepers?

    More Americans carrying guns than ever before while the deaths per firearm rate keeps dropping?

    Home schooling?

    France

    Columbia

    Foreign countries are not a counterproof. 

    Americans have a different culture, and a different way of protecting our own. I want homeowners and citizens, not roving mobs.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    iWe: do we not have an enhanced opportunity to address problems ourselves?

    My son was in high school when the Columbine shootings occurred in 1999. Columbine changed local policing in small towns more than anything else ever has, I think. In our sleepy town on Cape Cod, Democrats that they are, half the people wanted more gun control and more police.

    Watching the response here gave me a bird’s-eye view of my fellow human beings and how dumb they can be in wanting something, pursuing it, and getting exactly the opposite. This was the beginning of the militarization of small town and suburban police.

    The schools adopted insane security measures: all the doors were locked, everyone got IDs that were checked by someone before they were allowed to enter. Every teacher and classroom were now burdened with an array of protocols and procedures. My son participated as a pretend “school shooter” with a police drill at his high school to prepare for an “active shooter.” The police and the kids had paintball guns to mimic a real situation.

    This is when the police departments started buying old used government military equipment.

    These measures are all still in place. When I look at the defund-the-police movement, I can’t help thinking that this is what started it and that perhaps to some extent their anger is justified and warranted. People have been living under a strong police presence that isn’t really helping them in some of the ways local police can and actually used to help the community. It’s just an overbearing presence, and on a day-to-day basis, it’s way out of proportion to the actual threats from violent offenders in small towns and the suburbs.

    Interestingly, I suddenly wanted my son and his friends to each have a gun. These were really smart kids. Why should some deranged shooter have the opportunity to kill these kids? The answer to me to the Columbine shooting was more guns, not fewer. The Democrats certainly understand the principle–these are the same people who want everyone to know how to use the CPR method to save lives.

    Getting more people to carry guns seemed so obvious to me, but not to my fellow citizens. Instead, they created a crazy police state that served no one’s interest and was actually slower to protect people than arming individual citizens would be.

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    MarciN (View Comment):
    It seemed so obvious to me, but not to my fellow citizens. Instead, they created a crazy a police state that served no one’s interest and was actually slower to protect people than arming individual citizens would be.

    Quite.

    Precisely the same as Covid. I have consistently (yes, even back at the beginning) pushed for quarantining the at-risk, and encouraging the spread of Covid as widely and rapidly as possible for all others.

    But no, we have to govern using fear instead. And get everything backward.

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    Americans have a different culture, and a different way of protecting our own. I want homeowners and citizens, not roving mobs.

    But maybe just one or two billionaires who dress like winged mammals?

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    iWe (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    It seemed so obvious to me, but not to my fellow citizens. Instead, they created a crazy a police state that served no one’s interest and was actually slower to protect people than arming individual citizens would be.

    Precisely the same as Covid. I have consistently (yes, even back at the beginning) pushed for quarantining the at-risk, and spreading Covid as widely possible for all others as quickly as possible.

    But no, we have to govern using fear instead. And get everything backward.

    My thoughts exactly. 

    Would everyone please calm down!?!?!

    :-) :-)

    • #11
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    Korean shopkeepers?

    More Americans carrying guns than ever before while the deaths per firearm rate keeps dropping?

    Home schooling?

    France

    Columbia

    Foreign countries are not a counterproof.

    Americans have a different culture, and a different way of protecting our own. I want homeowners and citizens, not roving mobs.

    Vigilantism is what you get when the system breaks down. Americans have plenty of times when mobs lynched people in the past. Indeed, in my own hometown, a Jewish man was lynched by a mob. I would think, that sort of thing would be a problem for someone like you. 

    The idea that we should celebrate armed citizens taking the law into their own hands is, frankly, delusional. Trained professionals do a poor enough job, without relying on citizens to take up the role of police. We do not all live in small towns where people look after each other. The internet is full of people acting nuts, trying to police each other. We had, right here at Ricochet, a member vowing to dox people for not wearing masks. Maybe shooting people for not wearing masks is next? 

    Armed citizens defending themselves from crime as it happens is one thing. Vigilantes seeking out criminals is another. It is a fire that cannot easily be put out. Part of what the mob sold to immigrants was protection that was not given to them by the established system. That was here, in America. I am all for American Exceptionalism, but humans are human. That is why I am a conservative. 

    If the rule of law retreats, we are doomed to tribalism and strong men. That is how it always goes, even in America. Always.  

    • #12
  13. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    The authorities are already backing down.  It’s time for “normal” people to step up.

    • #13
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Indeed, in my own hometown, a Jewish man was lynched by a mob. I would think, that sort of thing would be a problem for someone like you. 

    I hate and fear mobs, of all kinds. Armed citizens with something to defend are a great antidote to a mob.

    The idea that we should celebrate armed citizens taking the law into their own hands is, frankly, delusional. 

    I have lived in many environments where citizens were the only authority. I totally accept that “getting carried away” is a profound danger.

    Still, from time to time, if the police are not doing their job, citizens defending their own are a great reminder that we are nation of people empowered by self-determination. 

    Armed citizens defending themselves from crime as it happens is one thing. Vigilantes seeking out criminals is another.

    I accept that. My title was too provocative. 

    If the rule of law retreats, we are doomed to tribalism and strong men. That is how it always goes, even in America. Always.

    Right now, the rule of law is in full retreat. The tribalism and strong men include the Deep State. If we are to restore law and order, the government needs to be incentivized to do their job, properly. I think a well armed and vigilant populace is a good incentive. Do you have a better idea? 

     

    • #14
  15. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

     

    The idea that we should celebrate armed citizens taking the law into their own hands is, frankly, delusional. Trained professionals do a poor enough job, without relying on citizens to take up the role of police. We do not all live in small towns where people look after each other. The internet is full of people acting nuts, trying to police each other. We had, right here at Ricochet, a member vowing to dox people for not wearing masks. Maybe shooting people for not wearing masks is next?

    Armed citizens defending themselves from crime as it happens is one thing. Vigilantes seeking out criminals is another. It is a fire that cannot easily be put out. Part of what the mob sold to immigrants was protection that was not given to them by the established system. That was here, in America. I am all for American Exceptionalism, but humans are human. That is why I am a conservative.

    If the rule of law retreats, we are doomed to tribalism and strong men. That is how it always goes, even in America. Always.

    I agree with this.  A lot (not most, but a lot) of the violent crime have in this country is a form of vigilantism – people taking the law into their own hands and retaliating against some offense, perceived or real.  It happens a lot and it’s a mess for everyone.  Criminals often believe they are doing the right thing when they commit crimes, but usually their sense of what’s right, at least in that situation, is out of whack because they’re outraged or jumping to conclusions, etc… 

    If you’re concerned about privacy, civil rights, due process, and all that, you should be a strongly against vigilantism, which respects none of that.  Vigilantes rarely produce any kind of law and order.  They usually just cause more chaos. 

    After all, weren’t all those BLM riots a form of vigilantism?  Something close, anyway.  There you had a large group of people who believed the police were getting away with crimes against young black men, the justice system was broken, and that our society was fundamentally unjust to them in a number of ways, and they were setting out to get justice, to take that process into their own hands.  Maybe it’s not quite vigilantism because they weren’t necessarily trying to find one guy and punish him, but it’s some kind of cousin to it.  

    This should all be discouraged. 

    Vigilantism is the sexy girl at the party, but don’t flirt with her.  She’s trouble.

     

     

     

    • #15
  16. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    Yes.

    Gun culture is not a problem in America.

    The lack of a gun culture is.

    • #16
  17. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I don t think so. It has not worked out in the past.

    Humans will always strive to create order.   Usually it is a strongman with mightier thugs.  The Walking Dead series is good exploration of humanity.  When order breaks down, you need to fear the other humans (Negan) more than the zombies.   That said, an aggressive neighborhood watch can help maintain order.  

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Indeed, in my own hometown, a Jewish man was lynched by a mob. I would think, that sort of thing would be a problem for someone like you.

    I hate and fear mobs, of all kinds. Armed citizens with something to defend are a great antidote to a mob.

    The idea that we should celebrate armed citizens taking the law into their own hands is, frankly, delusional.

    I have lived in many environments where citizens were the only authority. I totally accept that “getting carried away” is a profound danger.

    Still, from time to time, if the police are not doing their job, citizens defending their own are a great reminder that we are nation of people empowered by self-determination.

    Armed citizens defending themselves from crime as it happens is one thing. Vigilantes seeking out criminals is another.

    I accept that. My title was too provocative.

    If the rule of law retreats, we are doomed to tribalism and strong men. That is how it always goes, even in America. Always.

    Right now, the rule of law is in full retreat. The tribalism and strong men include the Deep State. If we are to restore law and order, the government needs to be incentivized to do their job, properly. I think a well armed and vigilant populace is a good incentive. Do you have a better idea?

     

    Restore the rule of law is the only solution that will last:

    Seriously: Why not loot?

    The people of San Fan have three choices: Do nothing and let the problem get worse, vote the people making these laws out, form mobs and defend the stores with violence that will get them arrested and prosecutor Rittonhouse style. 

    It sounds like you don’t like the Mob part. Here is the thing: I don’t see how armed population incentivizes the government to do its job until said armed population is in actual rebellion. The citizens of Rome did not put an end to the Senate run mobs, Julius Caesar did using the army. 

     

    • #18
  19. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Is a Hyper-Active Armed Citizenry Actually a Good Thing?

    Yes.

     

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    If the police aren’t allowed to do their job, then we citizens are the only thing standing in the way of the mob and our homes & families . . .

    • #20
  21. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Changing the title is unfair when there are responses based in part on the first title. If you are going to change your title after people have posted, you should make it clear that you have done so in the OP. You did not. I find that to be shady at best and duplicitous at worst. I made comments based on your use of the work “vigilantism” and now you have struck it from your whole work. I have a real problem with that. It is not in the spirit of open and honest debate. 

    For the Record the Original Title of this post was:

    Is Growing Vigilantism Actually a Good Thing

    You know I am telling the truth because it is preserved in the perma-link. 

    I will retire from the discussion now, because it is clear that since I commented, the goal posts were moved. That is not the sort of conversation in which I want to continue. 

    • #21
  22. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Okay, the title has changed from vigilantism to “hyper-active armed citizenry”, which by definition is bad — hyper mneaning “over”.

    “Vigilantism” is bad enough — I presume this draws upon vigilante, rather than upon the simple vigilant.  Run anything through Spanish and you get a twisted take.

    This supposed vigilantism or whatever, let us recall, was one young man who would have been killed several times over if not for his ability to defend himself.

    We institue governments to protect our rights, including life and liberty.  When the government becomes injurious to those ends, the […] government is lucky it’s not getting shot at.  Merely defending oneself is small potatoes.

    “Vigilante” is a lot like “Capitalist”; a word applied by those who disagree, who disapprove, and who don’t understand in the first place.

    How about “armed and alert people”, “ready armed populace”, “capable and responsible individuals”?  Under-indoctrinated, insufficiently intimidated, morally courageous and physically committed…

    No need to call us “hyper-active” or even vigilantes.

    I know you’re not “calling names”.  Just pointing out how far down the language trap you already are with this — I’m not getting in.

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Changing the title is unfair when there are responses based in part on the first title. If you are going to change your title after people have posted, you should make it clear that you have done so in the OP. You did not. I find that to be shady at best and duplicitous at worst. I made comments based on your use of the work “vigilantism” and now you have struck it from your whole work. I have a real problem with that. It is not in the spirit of open and honest debate.

    For the Record the Original Title of this post was:

    Is Growing Vigilantism Actually a Good Thing

    You know I am telling the truth because it is preserved in the perma-link.

    I will retire from the discussion now, because it is clear that since I commented, the goal posts were moved. That is not the sort of conversation in which I want to continue.

    Calm down.  iWe is not being dishonest —  just changing his mind a little late.  I sympathize with wanting to phrase things better.

    • #23
  24. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The people of San Fan have three choices: Do nothing and let the problem get worse, vote the people making these laws out, form mobs and defend the stores with violence that will get them arrested and prosecutor Rittonhouse style. 

    You are missing a key middle path: defend property without a mob. Each storeowner and family protecting their own. 

    It sounds like you don’t like the Mob part. Here is the thing: I don’t see how armed population incentivizes the government to do its job until said armed population is in actual rebellion. The citizens of Rome did not put an end to the Senate run mobs, Julius Caesar did using the army. 

    Caesar was killed by the same mob. 

    The government has to justify its existence. It has to offer a better set of solutions than we can offer ourselves. Failing that, the threat of defunding the government/police is something that the government actually fears. 

    • #24
  25. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Changing the title is unfair when there are responses based in part on the first title.

    Bryan, you corrected me, and I SAID that it was an overstatement. So I changed the title!!!

     If you are going to change your title after people have posted, you should make it clear that you have done so in the OP.

    OK. Will do now.

    I will retire from the discussion now, because it is clear that since I commented, the goal posts were moved. That is not the sort of conversation in which I want to continue. 

    Seriously? I am not moving the goal posts. I am learning and growing. Note that I ONLY changed the title, not the text itself. 

    It was YOU who read my text and concluded that I was pushing for roving mobs, instead of people defending themselves. 

    • #25
  26. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Government must realize that either it or we the people will secure ourselves and property. Which one should we prefer? The one that will protect us. We establish local government to do that as one of its chores. If the government chooses to not protect us or is unable to protect us, then we can and will assume that responsibility as the lesser of two evils. Right now, people want a government to assume that task responsibly but the government is failing in some places. There is no national push for vigilante law enforcement. There are desperate people abandoned by their government defending themselves.

    • #26
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    BDB (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Changing the title is unfair when there are responses based in part on the first title. If you are going to change your title after people have posted, you should make it clear that you have done so in the OP. You did not. I find that to be shady at best and duplicitous at worst. I made comments based on your use of the work “vigilantism” and now you have struck it from your whole work. I have a real problem with that. It is not in the spirit of open and honest debate.

    For the Record the Original Title of this post was:

    Is Growing Vigilantism Actually a Good Thing

    You know I am telling the truth because it is preserved in the perma-link.

    I will retire from the discussion now, because it is clear that since I commented, the goal posts were moved. That is not the sort of conversation in which I want to continue.

    Calm down. iWe is not being dishonest — just changing his mind a little late. I sympathize with wanting to phrase things better.

    Changing the Title changes the meaning. We don’t give the NYT a pass on this. It is perfectly reasonable for me to object. Telling someone to “Calm Down” really is saying “You don’t have a right to your feelings.” Well, you don’t have a right to dictate my response to me. 

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The people of San Fan have three choices: Do nothing and let the problem get worse, vote the people making these laws out, form mobs and defend the stores with violence that will get them arrested and prosecutor Rittonhouse style.

    You are missing a key middle path: defend property without a mob. Each storeowner and family protecting their own.

    The middle path still results in getting arrested and prosecuted, even if you don’t fire a shot. Remember the couple in Missouri? The system is not going to allow it. 

    It sounds like you don’t like the Mob part. Here is the thing: I don’t see how armed population incentivizes the government to do its job until said armed population is in actual rebellion. The citizens of Rome did not put an end to the Senate run mobs, Julius Caesar did using the army.

    Caesar was killed by the same mob.

    No he was not! Caesar was not killed by Senate run mobs, he was killed by the Senate! The political forces of the status quo who had worked against him in the first place. And their actions kicked off chaos and Civil War. 

    The government has to justify its existence. It has to offer a better set of solutions than we can offer ourselves. Failing that, the threat of defunding the government/police is something that the government actually fears.

    The whole point of rule of law is to prevent rule of force. There is no middle path. Either laws are supported by the persons We The People put into power, or they are not. Trying to enforce them ourselves will not work. It has never worked. 

    Remember I am the one who has been predicting a sectarian civil war for over a year. This pushes us closer. 

    • #27
  28. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Kyle’s imperfection was his age. He should have understood – or someone should have explained to him – what he was about to do was a very adult thing. In a perfect world, the governor and mayor would have lived up to their oaths and had the police supported by national guard stop the riots. In a lesser world, maybe the owners of the car lot, pick up their own rifles and protect their own property – like the Roof Top Koreans in the 1992 riots. (Did they actually shoot anyone? Or was their presence enough to deter violence?) But in this world, a kid sees adults too cowardly to act, so takes it upon himself to do something…

    Why isnt the ACLU suing the states for violating the civil rights of the store owners – who’s property was knowingly and willingly sacrificed to the mob violence? Dont they have the right to live in peace and be left in peace? In all of these cities – even going back to the Watts Riots in the 1960’s – its the minority business and communities that are destroyed.

    • #28
  29. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    Appropriately enough for this discussion, the Arbery trial will likely go to the jury today.  I haven’t kept a close eye on the trial, and what evidence the jury saw and heard, but if the news reports were accurate (and I recognize that’s a big “if” these days), this is a good example of hyper-active armed citizenry going too far, and unjustly killing someone.  So, again, this kind of thing should be discouraged.  By all means, hold leaders accountable for poor security, keep arms to defend yourself, but don’t go hunting criminals.  You may well get it wrong and become the thing you hunted.  

    • #29
  30. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The people of San Fan have three choices: Do nothing and let the problem get worse, vote the people making these laws out, form mobs and defend the stores with violence that will get them arrested and prosecutor Rittonhouse style.

    You are missing a key middle path: defend property without a mob. Each storeowner and family protecting their own.

    The middle path still results in getting arrested and prosecuted, even if you don’t fire a shot. Remember the couple in Missouri? The system is not going to allow it.

    And yet the Korean shopowners in the LA riots were not prosecuted.

    It sounds like you don’t like the Mob part. Here is the thing: I don’t see how armed population incentivizes the government to do its job until said armed population is in actual rebellion. The citizens of Rome did not put an end to the Senate run mobs, Julius Caesar did using the army.

    Caesar was killed by the same mob.

    No he was not! Caesar was not killed by Senate run mobs, he was killed by the Senate!

    IMO, a distinction without a difference.

    The political forces of the status quo who had worked against him in the first place. And their actions kicked off chaos and Civil War.

    There was already a civil war – Caesar crossed the Rubicon, remember? 

    The government has to justify its existence. It has to offer a better set of solutions than we can offer ourselves. Failing that, the threat of defunding the government/police is something that the government actually fears.

    The whole point of rule of law is to prevent rule of force.

    I accept and agree with this – but I disagree that only the government can rule with the law. It is patently obvious that they are not doing so. So we have to do the best we can until the ship can be righted.  

    Where I live, the government is grossly incompetent, the police have no interest in law, and you would be a fool to rely on the criminal justice system to deliver justice, let alone law and order. We are not overrun in part because the bad guys fear people like me. So we remain largely unmolested. 

    Remember I am the one who has been predicting a sectarian civil war for over a year. This pushes us closer.

    I have been hoping and praying for this country to peacefully separate in two or three pieces. And I think it can – and should. When it does, I’ll aim to establish a Red State escape option.

    • #30