Friday, January 23, 2009

John Moses Browning

Since January 23 is the birthday of John Moses Browning, I have selected him as today's hero of capitalism. It may seem like an odd choice to some, but I think there is a good reason why his accomplishments should be celebrated.

For those of you who don't instantly recognize his name (or haven't guessed from his photo), he was an inventor and designer of firearms. In fact, he was one of the best. Browning was born in 1855 in Utah, and he worked as a young man in his father's gunsmith shop, learning the ins and outs of firearms from their basic design and manufacture to their operation and utility.

In the late 1870s, Browning and his brothers took over his then deceased father's shop and began not only repairing guns (as a gunsmith would normally do) but designing and manufacturing new ones. The quality of the designs soon caught the attention of the Winchester, Colt, and Remington companies, which all purchased and manufactured Browning-designed firearms. 

Among his many innovations was the slide design that is the essential part of an automatic handgun, the gas-cycled automatic machine gun, and the semi-automatic shotgun. In all, he is credited with over 100 patents related to firearms. His most popular models, such as the M-1911, became long-standing standard issue weapons for the US military and many police forces.

Now, for those who are still wondering why Browning is a hero of capitalism, here are the reasons. First, firearms are essential to hunting, sportsmanship, and other recreational activities. Because of the innovations Browning introduced, hundreds of businesses thrive in these areas.

The second reason, which I think is far more essential, is that firearms are absolutely essential for capitalism to exist. Firearms are an essential part of law enforcement and the military, which are themselves essential to capitalism. The fundamental root of capitalism is the right to life, and the implementation of that right requires a right to private property. To make the use of retaliatory force objective, a system of capitalism requires a police and military (two of the essential functions of government) to protect and guard the private property that leads to wealth creation. I think it is clear that when police forces and the military are armed with efficient and well-designed firearms, they are less likely to have to use them in defense of our rights and we are more likely to enjoy the freedom of wealth creation that is the hallmark of capitalism.

Sources:
Wikipedia entry on Browning
Petition for Browning holiday
The M-1911 page biography of Browning

1 comment:

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