Americans claim the unalienable rights to life and liberty, and as with all rights these come with certain responsibilities, among which is the duty to protect and defend against threats to life and liberty, up to and including through force of arms if necessary.

Each of us is responsible for our personal defense and that of those who depend on us, and each citizen is responsible for helping to safeguard the nation’s liberty.

These twin principles are at the heart of America’s gun culture. People of arms – those who are aware of their responsibility and recognize their duty – have a culture, and a cultural identity as indelible and undeniable as race, creed, or color. They cannot be separated from their firearms because they cannot be separated from their enlightened sense of responsibility. You cannot ban a responsibility, and enlightenment cannot be undone.

We would all be better off if everyone understood and acknowledged this simple fact. Gun ownership at its core is an ethnic identity, not a consumer choice. People of arms do not cling to guns any more than people cling to their own hair.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is a civil right that supports the human rights of self-defense and defense of liberty. This is a matter of eternal principles and requires eternal vigilance by the people, which is why the right to keep and bear arms is timeless, as relevant and important now as it ever was.

The most immediate and obvious benefit of the right to keep and bear arms is for personal defense. But no country can afford to assume that its government is immortal, that the government has somehow managed to transcend history, never to run its course and fall like so many others, that it will always reflect the best in human nature, and never need to be treated with stern measures at the hands of its people.

Some think the right no longer matters because the people have already lost, that the modern state with its dazzling array of destructive weapons is much too powerful to oppose with force, and that doing so and expecting to prevail is some sort of romantic fantasy. But believing that the American people could not mount a potent resistance, or that they should surrender the rights and firepower they have without a struggle, itself is the real fantasy.

Violent criminals and tyrants alike will respect no bans on type of firearms or magazine ammunition capacity. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that if a tyrant were at work today, firearms such as semi-automatic pistols with 17-round magazines and AR-15 rifles with 30-round magazines would be the primary weapons of the tyrant’s henchmen, used to subdue and terrorize the people. Accordingly, any restriction or prohibition of such weaponry is illegitimate, a violation of the right of the people and without force of law. The people recognize a right and a duty to resist such violations. And government should recognize that illegitimate law means illegitimate government.

Registration likewise is illegitimate: one does not give the fox the keys to the henhouse. And any “law” prohibiting a registry is merely a government promise, which is worthless. Not even the possibility of a registry can be permitted. Complete data on which citizens own what firearms – information accessible to government with the ability to be gathered and compiled later – must not be allowed to be created in the first place.

If all this seems like an unwillingness to compromise, that is an illusion: accepting a handicap in a gunfight – via inferior firearms and/or ammunition limits – is not a compromise, and neither is a government demand for registration. And if this evokes the vague charge of absolutism, that is only because few things are more absolute than matters of life and death, liberty and slavery. Whether it’s in a fight against the criminal or the tyrant, the blood of the innocent, like the blood of the patriot, should command a high price. No one should ever expect either to be sold at a discount.

Today people of arms are a minority. And like any minority they are subject to bigotry. They know it when they see it and they know that it is wrong. But it is ineffective and counterproductive (not to mention unflattering to the bigot). No amount of denigrating or demonizing can shake the confidence of this culture or prevent its logic from being heard. Self-reliant people of arms have been here since before this country existed and were instrumental in its creation. They have a direct link to the American Revolution that cannot be severed.

Odysseus M Tanner