Reason: When Nonviolence Isn’t Enough

Jason Brennan, professor of ethics, economics, and public policy at Georgetown University, over at Reason.com has a longer article up, examining government authority, briefly touching on civil disobedience, and then going on to explore when you are justified to go beyond civil disobedience.

When Nonviolence Isn’t Enough: Does the right to self-defense apply against agents of the state?

In August 2017, Richard Hubbard III stopped at a red light in Euclid, Ohio, but his front bumper went a few feet past the white line. The cops pulled him over. That’s no surprise: Police in Euclid, Cleveland Heights, and the surrounding cash-strapped towns strictly enforce traffic rules. But officers didn’t just give the driver a ticket.

The police demanded Hubbard—a black man—step out of his vehicle. Dashcam footage shows that he calmly complied. Yet one officer immediately spun Hubbard around, bent his arm, and slammed him against his Hyundai. He flipped Hubbard again, punched him in the face, and kicked his groin. Hubbard screamed and put his arms up to protect himself. The other officer joined in.

They threw Hubbard to the ground but continued to punch, hammer, and kick him. When he tried to protect his face, they chanted the informal motto of American police, “Stop resisting!” Even when Hubbard was subdued, prostrate with his hands behind his back and two large officers pinning him down, one officer continued to pummel his skull.

Imagine you witness the whole thing. A thought occurs to you: You’re armed. You could shoot the officers, perhaps saving Hubbard’s life or preventing him from being maimed and disabled. May you do so?

Below, I defend a controversial answer: Yes, you may. Shooting the cops in this case is dangerous—they may send a SWAT team to kill you—and in many places it’s illegal. But it is nevertheless morally permissible, indeed heroic and admirable. You have the right to defend yourself and others from state injustice, even when government agents act ex officio and follow the law…

American Partisan: Lawful Resistance

Bryce Sharper at American Partisan has written Case Studies in Lawful Resistance I in which he gives a brief synopsis of the doctrine of magistrates and its relation to lawful resistance, and also gives an example of lawful resistance from Illinois.

The state of Illinois is collapsing financially.  It owes its vendors in excess of $10 billion and has no money to pay its pension obligations.  Foolish state elected officials are floating every scheme under the sun to avoid the inevitable: declaring bankruptcy.  People are moving out in every direction.  The thing is, Illinois is a lot like California: there are a lot of decent, God-fearing people there.  Illinois is really the territory of the corrupt city-sanctuary-state of Chicago.  I have wondered for a long time why the rest of the state doesn’t secede or at least stop obeying Chicago.  I have to wonder no longer.  Second Amendment activists in the state have begun the basic process of resistance by creating sanctuary cities for gun owners.

Without gun sanctuary resolutions, these new state laws could take guns away from owners who need them: after all, people who believe in emergency preparedness and survival often purchase guns for protection. The sanctuary gun resolution is to protect homesteaders and those who believe in emergency preparedness from losing their second amendment rights.

It’s easy to understand how county officials feel the need to place the state on notice about restricting gun rights. These new Illinois laws could restrict someone who has a criminal record or history of violence, even if it was years and years ago, from owning a gun. They could have turned over a new leaf entirely and now want a gun simply for home protection or hunting, but the new laws would make that very difficult. It isn’t right to place a blanket ban on people because of some offense without looking at the circumstances surrounding the charge.

The article goes on to allude to the fact that these gun sanctuary city laws might not hold up to state law.  IT DOESN’T MATTER.  City leaders are perfectly justified in defying state law to allow their citizens to protect themselves.  The main duty of magistrates is to protect their citizens.  The state of Illinois sees its main duty as thievery and oppression…

For more about the doctrine of magistrates, you can read Theodore Beza’s De jure magistratuum
(On the Rights of Magistrates) at Constitution.org.

There is also a book by Matthew Trewhella titled The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates. You can read a review of it here at The New American. The review covers the basics of the doctrine in more detail than Sharper’s brief summary, but in a more digestible format that Beza’s longer piece.