In any case, the idea that the existence of police officers in some way negates the right to bear arms has always been a ridiculous one. Police are an auxiliary force that we hire to do a particular job — there to supplement, not to replace, my rights and responsibilities. Every time we debate gun control in the United States, I am informed that the Sheriff of Whatever County is opposed to liberalization. To which I always think, “So what?” My right to keep and bear arms is merely the practical expression of my underlying right to self-defense. That, as a polity, we have decided to hire certain people to take the first shot at keeping the peace is fine. But it has no bearing on my liberties.

And how could it, given that I do not live in a police station? The old saw that “when seconds count, the police are minutes away” is trotted out as often as it is because it is unquestionably true. Whether the average police department is virtuous or evil is irrelevant here. What matters is that no government has the right — and in America, mercifully, no government has the legal power — to farm out, and then to abolish, my elementary rights. It would not fly if the government hired people to speak for me and then shut down my speech; if would not fly if the government hired people to worship for me and then restricted my right to exercise my religion; and it will not fly for the government to hire a security agency and then to remove, or limit, my access to weaponry. This is a personal question, not an aggregate question: I have one life, and I am entitled to defend it in any way I see fit against those who would do me harm. If there is a single principle that has animated this realm since the time of the Emperor Justinian, it is that.