Neo-Republicanism, Nondomination, and Gun Rights in Uncertain Times
Antonin Scalia Law School, Liberty & Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series
35 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 31, 2020
Republican political theory has long feared the tyranny of uncontrolled power. While maintaining the tradition’s suspicions of concentrated power, neo-republicans regard the presence of a constitutionally limited political state as an essential constituent of nondomination. In this essay, I suggest that the summer protests of 2020 provide an occasion for scrutinizing philosophical idealization of the political state. If an image of the political state as a source of domination is placed alongside its usual image as the solution to domination, how would that revision affect neo-republican prescriptions? I consider this question specifically with respect to private ownership of firearms. This paper has two aims. First, I contend that private possession of firearms does not suffice for mutual domination. The neo-republican’s premises are inadequate to build an argument for gun control. Second, I make a positive case that when the state becomes a dominating power or complicit in domination, private possession of firearms can potentially offer a valuable source of antipower.
Keywords: Neo-republicanism, Guns, Ethics, Rights, Domination
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