Who shall watch the guardians?

Communism kills. The Khmer Rouge killed many CambodiansThe Khmer Rouge murdered more than a million Cambodians -- after first disarming them -- for their own protection
Who shall watch the guardians? Governments claim to be our protectors, our guardians, but they require watching. Not only to keep the politicians honest, but more importantly, to protect the public from the government. Power corrupts. Juvenal pointed this out centuries ago.

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

“Who shall watch the guardians?”

Juvenal’s warning about the dangers of government (the supposed guardians) remains true today. Particularly powerful centralized government. Canadians may trust the RCMP to watch the politicians, but can the RCMP be trusted?
Gun control proponents believe armed government officials (the police) will protect civilians. They assume that normal civilians can’t be trusted with firearms, but they trust completely authorities who wield deadly force. Historically, this is a bad bet. In 1910 no one could have predicted that Germany, with its liberal constitutional monarchy, would give birth to the Nazis and launch a holocaust of mass murder in the 1930s.


Armed citizens are key

Gun control (despite whatever supporters may claim) eventually means disarming ordinary citizens. But disarming the citizenry removes an important deterrent to tyranny. In democracies or republics, citizens provide the best bulwark against government abuses. Not just by voting or signing petitions, but armed civilians provide an important deterrent to potential tyrants. Just by being armed. It is difficult for government to launch a mass murder campaign if they face armed citizens. Almost all of the mass murders by government over the 20th century took place where the citizens had first been disarmed.

Despite lurid media reports, the dangers of civilian criminals with guns are wildly exaggerated, while the dangers of armed powerful governments are often ignored. Governments over the 20th century have murdered more than 5 times as many innocent people as have civilian killers.


Murder in the 20th Century

Murders by criminals46.3 million
Government mass murders273 - 400 million

How many criminal murders have been committed during the 20th century?

The best source of worldwide statistics on criminal murder (or intentional homicide) is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which publishes compilations of murder statistics from UN member countries. The UN Global Study on Homicide, 2019, reported 463,000 intentional homicides across the 193 member states; the highest number of homicides committed in recent years. Multiplying this number by 100 gives a rough estimate of the number of homicides during the 20th century. The real number might be lower, but it’s unlikely to be higher.


Worldwide criminal murders (intentional homicides)

Criminal homicides (millions)
Total World46.3

Source:  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its Global Study on Homicide, 2019

Government mass murders in the 20th century.

Governments murdered their own citizens at much higher numbers than were killed by all the criminals during the 20thcentury. Estimates vary. Perhaps, five times as many, perhaps much more. And all were innocent civilians. Note: these counts do not include civilian deaths by either bombing or war-exacerbated disease and malnutrition..

Professor R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii, the renown political scientist and statistician, estimated that at least 272 million innocent, non-combatant civilians who were murdered by their own governments during the 20th century. According to Rummel, this estimate is his lower, more prudent figure, stating that it “could be over 400 million deaths.” Professor Rummel coined the word “democide” to denote all mass murder by government, regardless of whether the victims were selected for ethnicity, politics, economics, or other reasons. He included famine in his death counts if he deemed it the result of a deliberate policy, as he did for the Holodomor.

Illustrative examples of government mass murders (Not a complete list)

Time periodDeaths (millions)Government perpetratorVictims
China1949-198787.6CommunistsPeasants, opponents
USSR1917-198761.9CommunistsUkrainians, opponents
Germany1933-194520.9NazisJews, opponents
Japan1936-19456.0Military governmentcivilians in occupied countries, China, Korea, Philippeans
Cambodia1975-19791.5Khmer Rougecity residents, peasants
Turkey1909-19181.9Young TurksArmenians, Christians


Who shall watch the guardians?

Trusting armed government officials has historically been a bad bet. A reasonable question to ask is could it happen here? Perhaps. We’ll see.

Professor Rummel argues that political mass murder grows increasingly more likely as political power becomes unconstrained. Mass murders, or democides, are most likely to occur where power is concentrated in one party or one leader, where there are few sources of countervailing power, and the citizens have been disarmed; in other words, a tyranny. At the other end of the scale, where power is diffuse, checked, and balanced by other power sources, including armed civilians, such as in democracies and republics, political violence is a rarity.

Canada still has a relatively robust democracy. Elections are conducted more-or-less honestly, there is some semblance of free speech, and many Canadians own firearms. On the other hand, power is centralized in the Laurentian elite and the Liberal Party appears to be attempting to shut down free speech and disarm Canadians. Canadians have a national police force, the RCMP, the Liberal Party has ruled Canada for most of the past hundred years, and the Liberals are intent on increasing their control over everything. The Prime Minister dominates the House, appoints all members of the Senate, the head of the RCMP, CSIS, and all Supreme Court judges; nevertheless, not all power in Canada is controlled by the Liberal Party. At least not yet. Free speech has not been completely trampled, it’s still possible to expose some government corruption, and citizens can still keep some firearms.

Power corrupts. Canadians need to keep close track of the government. And, by the way, keep their guns. Disarming citizens is a dangerous step down a slippery slope to tyranny.

For further reading:

Stephen Halbrook, The Right of the People to Bear Arms

Paul Johnson, Modern Times

Don Kates, The Second Amendment, A Dialogue

Dave Kopel, Guns kill people, and tyrants with gun monopolies kill the most.

Gonzaga Journal of International Law

Joyce Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right

R.J. Rummel, Death by Government

1 Comment on "Who shall watch the guardians?"

  1. Anyone that believes that the police will come to their front door to protect THEM, in the event of a major breakdown in societal norms, with the potential for violence directed at the people, is delusional. In the end, we are all responsible for our own safety and protection, and if that means by the use of force, then so be it. It has been said that “whoever has the best weapons, makes the rules”, and in Canada, the Liberal Laurentian Elites (and to a large extent, the NDP) want to make sure they’re the ones “with superior firepower”. If we are to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government, think Ottawa February 2022, then it stands to reason that we must protect civilian firearms ownership, en masse, to have a fighting chance at resistance and survival. The RCMP and other provincial, regional, and municipal police forces have regularly demonstrated that they are just humans after all, with all the same flaws as the rest of us. Arrogance, and the God complex being the 2 most distasetful, and obvious ones. They serve their political masters, for the most part, without fear of retribution. Heck, they can kill without fear of serious consequence, and often use far more force than is necessary in the situation, but are rarely ever found to be at fault. I would hazard a guess that in all of those 20th century mass murders of their people by their own governments, those democides, the people naively said to themselves beforehand, “it can’t happen here”, just before it did happen there.
    When it comes to power hungry despots use of lethal force to reach their goal of complete control (enslavement) of the population, there is usually only one outcome, and the history books all show it is not a pleasant one.

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