Remember that rights are moral principles which define and protect a man’s freedom of action, but impose no obligations on other men. Private citizens are not a threat to one another’s rights or freedom. A private citizen who resorts to physical force and violates the rights of others is a criminal — and men have legal protection against him.
Criminals are a small minority in any age or country. And the harm they have done to mankind is infinitesimal when compared to the horrors — the bloodshed, the wars, the persecutions, the confiscations, the famines, the enslavements, the wholesale destructions — perpetrated by mankind’s governments. Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims. When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is men’s deadliest enemy. It is not as protection against private actions, but against governmental actions that the Bill of Rights was written.
POV: Man’s Rights; The Nature of Government
[Via email from Stephanie.—Joe]