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In the Politics, Aristotle explains how “heavily armed men” (hoplites) form the foundation of political order. Their violent coercion, even in the form of bloodless potency, overrides both the wealth of shiftless plutocrats and the inheritance claims of the gentry.

Americans will recognize the colonial minutemen as our hoplites—not an inconvenient anomaly from America’s past, but the politically necessary foundation for America’s present and future. Aristotle is being descriptive, not prescriptive: he observes that while the liberties of landowners and craftsmen should be protected, the liberties of the hoplite are protected by definition. While reason must precede law, violence always precedes order.

The American right must acknowledge the association of guns with violence, while rejecting the fallacy that all violence is evil. Like the hoplite with his shield and spear, gun owners who take their duty seriously become bulwarks against both tyranny and anarchy. Instead of pretending our guns are only for outdoor sportsmanship, a luxury graciously allowed us by a piece of paper in the National Archives, we should acknowledge what they represent and accept the violent responsibility they entail.

Heavily armed men are a necessary but insufficient condition for the rule of law. The U.S. Constitution—a mere document subject to revision and manipulation—cannot alone protect the right to keep and bear arms. Rather, the inverse is true: keeping and bearing arms, as an act of political violence, is all that protects the Constitution.

— Andrew Cuff in Gun Ownership Is Political Violence

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