Chimpanzees have to be watchful of violence both within their own troop and by their neighbors. Chimpanzees form troops for a variety of reasons, one of which is to provide some security from neighboring predators like hyenas but also from other Chimpanzee troops. Encounters with other troops can be a positive experience but can alternatively lead to horrific genocide.
Yet governance within their own troop is dangerous as well. The leader rules by brute force within the troop. A dissenting chimp might find himself severely injured or murdered by the leader. And while one of the leader’s roles is to brutally defend against fighting within the group, it still occurs. The question is, “How far has human governance evolved beyond chimps?”
Some governments have not evolved very far, tending to rule by brute force. Others tend to slip back into brute force whenever newly formed democracies fail. The more evolved democracies have added protections to attempt to stabilize governance from reverting to its lowest apelike common denominator. Yet, in the end, without constant vigilance, we are all destined to devolve to the governance of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.
But unlike the chimpanzee, men do not have to allow the strongest specimen of our species to rule over us, for we have equalizers. Rather than allow the combination of evil and brute force to dictate a subservient existence, we can use the power of the vote to change our leadership. And if the vote is taken from us, we have the power of assembly, and if that too is taken, we have the right to bear arms.
It is true that this freedom to bear arms adds a dimension of watchfulness that we would not have to endure if we simply succumbed to chimpanzee tyranny. Giving our neighbors rights to bear arms necessarily means they could bear them against us just as neighboring chimps bear their teeth against one another. However, removing our ultimate rights to arms will not remove the threat from our neighbor, for we are descendants from the same branch on the tree of life as our brethren chimps, and we are just as violent if not more.
Chimps kill subordinates, members of their own troops, and of other troops. People do as well. It is our fate, therefore, to endure the unhappiness that comes with millennia of evolution. We will have to endure protecting against tyranny and simultaneously against our fellow man as evolution progresses.
Now the chief chimpanzee could not wreak violent discipline amongst his troop if all chimps had access to the gun. How effective is the gun at violence equalization among the humans. I suppose it depends on whether or not the citizenry has sufficient access to guns and are willing and able to use them.
For gun equalization to be effective, tyrannical power seekers must know that others are prepared to use gun equalization, or the threat of gun response will be ineffective. If that is true, then we should expect to see an inverse relationship between violent crimes and the ultimate response to them or the homicide rate.
In the UK and Australia, their governments have seen fit to take away access to guns among the general public in an attempt to limit homicide rates. Whether or not from government actions or other factors, both the UK and Australia can boast rather low homicide rates of .09 and .72 per 100,000 population, compared to 3.7 in the U.S. This data leads some in the U.S. to clamor for tighter gun control, even to the extremes of taking guns away as in the UK and Australia. Yet an inverse relationship does exist in these countries with respect to violent crimes.
For instance, in the UK violent crimes are highest amongst the industrialized nations with a rate of 2,034 per 100,000. In Australia, that rate is 903. Yet in America, violent crime is only 466 per 100,000, lower than both EU countries and Australia. We endure 3 more homicides per 100,000 with a trade-off of 1,568 less rapes, assaults, robberies and kidnappings committed against each 100,000 of our innocents.
Let’s face it. People and apes are violent creatures. If we do not equalize the predator aggression of our own species, our human predators will most certainly commit heinous acts against our own. In committing to the equalization of force against predators, we certainly create the power to increase homicides. What is the acceptable trade-off?