Mandatory militia service faded away after the Civil War in part due to the realization that as long as the American people remained armed, they could form militias if and when necessary. More importantly, the military-industrial complex realized that it could get higher congressional appropriations if the American people felt vulnerable to invasion from Mexico and/or Canada, with help from some Eurasian or East Asian power of course. Mandatory militia service remains alive and well, though, in Israel and Switzerland, and Kennesaw, Georgia has mandated gun ownership since 1982, though enforcement is lax.
How could the leaders of those democracies, as well as America’s Founders, justify forcing citizens to bear arms? Well, via the negative externality argument many use to justify mask and vaccine mandates. See, your not carrying a gun imposes at least five major negative externalities on me, and everyone else.
- The unarmed cannot defend themselves, which might force others to do so out of some ingrained or involuntary Smithian empathetic impulse.
- The unarmed cannot defend themselves, so they attract attackers, who might kill innocent bystanders in the process.
- The unarmed cannot defend their communities, so all Americans have to pay higher taxes for a militarized police force, the overbearing tactics of which led to several waves of massive urban uprising riots in the 1960s, 1990s, and 2020.
- The unarmed cannot defend the country, so all Americans have to pay higher taxes to support standing armies and navies.
- The unarmed cannot defend the country, so all Americans have to suffer the existence of a military-industrial complex, which has been known to initiate attacks on “our democracy” by currying favor with politicians and rendering them more hawkish.
Obviously, those externalities are far more costly than the cost of mandating firearms for all, even if taxpayers have to pick up the tab for the guns and ammo.
— Robert E. Wright in Mandate This!