What is the basis of the right to own a gun for self-defense?

The right to own a firearm is an application of the right to self-defense, i.e., the right to obtain the means to defend oneself. The right to self-defense is itself is a corollary of the right to life (a corollary is an implication of a principle).

It would be absurd to say one has the right to life but does not have the right to the means necessary to protect that life. It would be like saying one has the right to life, but not the right to purchase food. This is what opponents to the right to own a gun are really against the right to life.

Unfortunately, it is the right to life, that is ignored in the debate over the right to bear arms, both by its opponents and by its so-called defenders! As Adam Mossoff writes in Capitalism Magazine:

“The field of battle on which gun control should be fought is exactly on this issue: man’s rights. Statistical arguments on gun control are a red herring — as the leftists’ appeals to hungry children or the environmentalists’ appeals to clean parks are also meant to distract their opponents from the fundamental issues at stake. While the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other defenders of the right to bear arms argue over statistics and interpreting the Constitution, the real issues remain untouched and are sacrificed to the enemies of our freedom.”

How is the right to self-defense applied under capitalism?

Under capitalism, it is the government’s job to use force to defend its citizen’s rights; however, the government is not omnipotent, and it is not omnipresent: it cannot be everywhere.

In cases where the police are not present to resolve a criminal situation in time to prevent an irreversible situation, one has the right to those means necessary to protect themselves, until the police can arrive to handle the situation, i.e., an intrusion by a would-be rapist when a woman is alone in her apartment.

Isn’t owning a gun inherently evil?

No. Evil and good are moral terms that apply to entities that can make choices. A gun is a non-volitional object. Guns have no power of choice. Unlike a gun, the user of a firearm possesses free-will and can be judged for their actions. It is only the user of a gun who is good or evil: a woman who uses a gun to shoot a man wishing to rape her is acting selfishly to save her life; a bank robber using a gun to rob a bank is acting irrationally and self-destructively. To say that a gun is intrinsically evil because criminals — and corrupt governments — to rob peaceful citizens, is like saying water is evil because people can drown in it.

Does the right to bear arms include the right to privately owned nuclear weapons?

No. There is no right to bear weapons like a gun, outside of the right to life (whether for self-defense, or hunting). A corollary of a principle (such as the right to bear arms) cannot violate the principle on which it hierarchically depends upon (the right to self-defense). A nuclear weapon is a weapon of mass destruction. There is no such thing as the right to own a weapon of mass destruction, as it lies in contradiction to the right to self-defense. One does not defend oneself against a mugger by tossing a nuclear bomb.

Nuclear weapons are not weapons of self-defense. They are weapons of total offense that render (in the present context) all weapons of self-defense useless. Such a ‘right to own a nuclear weapon’ would in practice turn the right to self-defense into a chimera.