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John Locke is often said to hold that individuals have a natural right to bear arms for self-defence. I argue that this view ignores an essential feature of Locke's political theory: once we join political society, the preservation of society takes precedence over the preservation of individuals. In political society, on Locke's view, regulations of the means of self-defence may be enacted by a duly constituted legislative power if thought to be for the public good, even though this may limit the arms available to individuals when confronted with aggressors or tyrants.
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Keywords: Locke; Second Amendment; natural rights; right to bear arms; right to rebel; selfdefence; state of nature

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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