cf. tao te ching ch. 31

i have no interest in firearms. i am broadly, personally "anti-gun," mostly for practical reasons. to own a gun is to put yourself and anyone with whom you share a home at risk of serious or fatal injury, and the trade-off of hypothetically being able to scare off an intruder does not seem worth it to me. the data on gun ownership are clear. simply having access to a firearm puts you at much higher risk of suicide. gun suicides are significantly more common than gun homicides in the US, and the use of firearms in the commission of a crime is more common than the use of firearms in self-defense by an order of magnitude. the data offer little cause for belief that guns are particularly useful for home defense. they are akin to pickup trucks: useful in a narrow set of circumstances, which don't apply to the vast majority of people who own and use them, for whom they function primarily or exclusively as a signifier of masculinity. naturally, a self-styled patriarch who owns a gun is far more likely to use it against his family than in their defense.

even if we grant the "self-defense" premise, against all available evidence, there are other problems. the typical suburban fantasy of self-defense is at base anti-social and morally unjustifiable. locke famously argues in his second treatise that in the state of nature anyone can justifiably kill a robber because there exists no common authority to establish penalties proportional to any offense—that is, one is justified in killing a robber because there is no recourse to law or courts, and one cannot trust that the robber will stop at robbery absent them. in the absence of a social contract, one is potentially at war with any other person at a moment's notice. this is the headspace many US gun owners occupy. they begin from the assumption that the social compact is null and void, thus all offenses are potentially capital. perversely, this does not actually coincide with a breakdown of the established order of law enforcement, but a sprawling, authoritarian expansion of it. so the household armory invariably pairs with the other trappings of blockwartsmentalität: security cameras and alarms that connect directly to the police department, lawn signs that alert anyone who so much as looks at your house that they are on thin ice, routine escalation to vigilante assaults and homicides of people who simply walked down the wrong street or knocked on the wrong door.

this brings us to why the "revolutionary" argument for gun ownership is facetious at best. the standard second amendment argument is that citizens ought to be armed to prepare themselves against tyrannical government overreach. outside of a few armed cells (and even within some of those), this is not actually the function that gun ownership serves in the US. the actual purpose of private gun ownership (if we allow that the purpose of a system is what it does) is to augment state power and its discretionary use of deadly force, not contest it. examples are numerous, from profligate shootings of protesters, to shootings of "suspicious persons" (delivery drivers at the wrong address, drunk teenagers trying the wrong door, lost travelers turning their car around in a private driveway) by homeowners and neighborhood watch patrols, to vigilante tourists traveling to shoot "looters" in the aftermath of natural disasters. this is far and away the modal form of gun "self-defense:" extralegal execution of undesirables. it is a deputization of the petty bourgeoisie to carry out the mandate of state violence without even the nominal "use of force" constraints placed on law enforcement and private security personnel.

this is the only way it could conceivably be—the united states is not a society on the verge of revolutionary breakdown, nor is it a government that could be meaningfully weakened by popular insurrection unless said insurrection is backed by a powerful rival country (president xi, if you're reading this, i am amenable to revising my position on starting an armed cell with the proper financing). the crisis of american society is one of protracted, incremental decay; secular declines in the average quality of life; and the increasing paranoia and viciousness of the remaining middle class beneficiaries of the postwar fordist–keynesian compromise: those who perceive how tenuous their grasp on the middle class life is, and see no way to solidify it except by murdering anyone they believe might take it from them. as daughter of the confederacy diane feinstein once said, it is californians' god-given right to water their lawns.