I Can’t Say I’m Entirely Sold On The Libertarian Gun Control Position

In light of the recent shootings, I suppose I have a duty to provide some gun control commentary.

A poster on the libertarian Reddit boards had this to say:

I will make the concession that restricting access to guns in a society that is already brimming with guns is ridiculously stupid. It’s too late in the US to start taking them away – there are too many guns that banning them would create an enormous black market.

I know all the common Libertarian arguments against gun control. But on a philosophical level, I reject the notion that “an armed society is a polite society.” Do you really think that a society in which there were NO guns would be safer than what we have today in many parts of America?

Do you really think it’s necessary to own a machine that exists for the sole purpose of putting holes in human beings?

The statistics simply do not lie: gun crime is a much, much bigger problem in the US than it is in other places where the vast majority of people don’t have access to guns. Of course you’ll point to Switzerland, but they also don’t have the socioeconomic issues that we have in the US.

Thoughts?

Obviously there is a disconnect between the kind of world the majority of us would like to live in, and the actual world that we do live in.  I’m sure if most people were given the choice of magically teleporting themselves into world where violence was impossible, they would do it.  Of course, if they stopped to think about it for more than a few seconds, they would realize that such a world would always be in a state of peaceful anarchy.  No one could ever stop someone else from engaging in consensual behaviors through the use of violence, and taxing people would be impossible.  That said, we do live in a physical world that is pervaded by scarcity, and with that comes the possibility of violence.

It’s important to remember that guns are inanimate objects.  Guns are tools that extend mankind’s capabilities.  They allow for the projection of our inner desires on to this world of form.  If people wish to project harm on to others, the most economical way to do so is through the barrel of a gun.  Likewise, if people wish to defend their physical bodies and possessions from violent aggression, the gun is one of the best tools to do so.

Wishing that things were different is all fine and good, but we must face reality when it comes to dealing with guns.  I think one of the most overlooked attributes of the gun is its ability to equalize force between individuals of disparate physical strength.  A 200 lbs male rapist is going to think twice before tangles with a 100 lbs armed female.  In a world without guns, the strongest would have total dominance over the weak, as it was for most of human history.  Such a situation would not be a step forward for humanity, but rather a step back.

The pervasive violent culture that we live in is a temporary blip in human history.  Banning or restricting guns isn’t going to solve the problems of murder and violence.   In China, where guns are harder to come by, mass murders take place using bladed weapons.  Recently a man in China stabbed 22 children and an adult.  Two years prior to that incident, another man stabbed 28 children in a nursery school attack.  To solve the problems of mass murder, the underlying problems with the human ego must be addressed.  Restricting weapons isn’t going to change a person’s violent tendencies or somehow make them less dangerous to society.

Humans are really good at assigning blame to everyone but themselves.  They like to blame politicians, inanimate objects, business executives or anyone else who seems like they might have had the power to do something about any particular “problem” that arises in their life.  Mass murders, along with all other violent crimes, occur because of a confluence of events that create a person capable of committing such atrocities.  How does a murderer come to be in the first place?  Does anyone honestly think gun laws will prevent a murderous rage?

The truth of the matter is that all of us play a role in every violent event that takes place in this world.  Individuals shape the world we live in.  Individuals shape the culture of our society.  Individuals promote an attachment to the material world that is so powerful it drives people to commit acts of violence.  Gun laws are just another means of avoiding personal responsibility.  “It’s the state’s responsibility,  not mine!  I didn’t create that murderer!  And even if I did, it’s not my responsibility to stop him!  The state should have stopped him, and it should have prevented him from getting a gun to commit his violent acts!” – How ridiculous does that sound?  What is the state?  It’s nothing more than a group of individual human beings, all of whom have the same faults as the rest of us.

Now that I’ve made my emotional and metaphysical arguments against gun control, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t also include all of the purely logical arguments against it as well.  In my opinion, there is no other person more knowledgeable on the subject of gun control than economist John Lott, who has spent a large part of his life studying this issue.  If you’re still up in the air about gun control, take the time to listen to his lecture on the subject.

John Lott speaks at the 18th annual Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conference, San Francisco, CA. July 2000:

  • http://twitter.com/Stevehayders Stephen Hayden

    I think the easiest way to reduce gun crime would be to end the global war on drug users and producers. All drugs could be made here with the exception of cocaine. There are already coca farmers who supply legitimate US pharmaceutical companies with leaves to be made into cocaine. End the current cartels, after that begin the process of wrapping up the DEA’s business and let the states decide when and where drugs can be sold. Like alcohol, eventually they’ll all decide to let them be sold in stores by adults to adults, as opposed to having open air drug markets. Our inner cities have been turned into war zones only because we’ve made recreational drugs illegal.

    • http://www.libertariannews.org/ Michael Suede

      Yeah, that would certainly have a huge impact on gun violence. But I think it needs to be taken further than that. If we know that eliminating the war on drugs would drastically reduce the murder rate, what do you think would happen if we stopped using violence to control people all together?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/WVLIZXIVJOUTYLWKPRZ2ETVHBE Clifton

        The only thing the violent respond to, is violence directed toward them. So if “we stopped using violence to control people altogether,” then we would lose all our property and freedom to those willing to commit violence to take them from us. That’s what I think would happen.

  • RevoGen

    I think you touched on it when you mentioned the “Individuals” role in all of this. We as individuals, being part of society have allowed our society to trivialize death and killing and thereby human life. In our movies, our music, our video games… Our govt. using drones, the acceptance of a nearly constant state of war (somewhere on the planet). This is what we teach our kids because this is what we learned from watching our elders. This is not really a gun issue it’s a violence issue and that is a societal issue. How can we expect our kids to grow up with a respect for human life when everything around them is violence. I agree with you that it is up to the individual, We must do more to change our view, to strengthen our respect for the sanctity of life. or we will continue to face the atrocities like this.

  • Picard90

    Mike, let me toss in my two cents. Most gun control proponents overlook a very basic fact: criminals who are determined to commit any kind of crime will stop at nothing to obtain a weapon. Gun control laws will not deter any serious criminal, and in fact, will give him a decisive advantage over law-abiding citizens if they are unable to defend against him.

    And frankly, it’s my strong belief that the gun control isn’t the real issue, the shootings are only a symptom of a much larger problem. The real problem is people themselves. In my humble opinion, we’re raising a generation of violent copycats. It seems that when a shocking crime occurs that affects the nation deeply, some people go out of way to emulate this crime as a way of sending a violent message to the society at large.

    I think the shooter wanted to send a powerful message to the society, and was more than willing enough to take down as many as he can before killing himself. I’ll bet you that a few months or years from now, someone sick enough will be inspired by Aurora and Newtown shootings and want to go out in a blaze of glory.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YO75SLRQ4NG3YVESHCZ7T4IS7E James

    I do believe the more guns is the answer. Look at Florida. It used to be every day we heard about carjackings in Florida. Then Florida passed concealed carry. The only place in Florida there where carjackings after that was rental cars leaving the airport. They had stickers on them for the rental car companies. The criminals knew you could not have a gun, as you just flew in on an airplane. Florida took those stickers off, and we almost never hear of carjackings in Florida. Fact is most shootings take place in these gun free zones. Even if the perpetrator knows he will take his own life, he knows these zones are the place he will be able to do the most damage before the police (guys with guns) show up. Few wait to be shot by the police or captured. They take there own life when they know the Police are close.

    • kirk

      only the irretrievably stupid would think that the way to rid society of murders is to make more defenseless victims. these are our ‘fellow citizens’.

      only the irretrievably sociopathic would use the murder of innocents as the means to remove defensive capability so the sociopathic can then achieve their end and prey on all. these are our ‘leaders’.

      with stupids listening and sociopaths preaching, is there any question as to the origin of the dire straits facing us?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WVLIZXIVJOUTYLWKPRZ2ETVHBE Clifton

    Yes, I do think an armed society is safer, for the same reason that the cold war did not end in nuclear disaster. In societies where armed people are everywhere, people are less inclined to commit gun crimes. Secondly, I wonder if you gun control advocates actually believe that some madman out there will say to himself, “conditions are perfect for a mass murder, if only I could buy an assault rifle. Oh, I can’t? I guess I’ll just call it off then. No use trying one of the hundreds of other methods of murder at my disposal.” If you think that, you are sadly misled. Or do you think, as I do, that it is more likely to deter the madman, if he thinks the school’s principle will blow his demented melon right off the top his neck?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.raymond.31 Rick Raymond

    Speaking of drug prohibition and it’s relation to violent crime, wasn’t it during alcohol prohibition that machine-guns became the weapon of choice for both the gangsters and police (or do I repeat myself)?

    I guess what I would be interested to know is, how much of a role has the state played, with it’s many wars, in escalating the deadliness and firepower of modern guns, when it might have not otherwise been so?

    • kirk

      gangsters and police: you do repeat yourself.

  • papaswamp

    Why is the reaction to a lunatic always to restrict the freedoms of everyone else? After 9-11 we allow ourselves, children and elderly to be strip searched. We are allowing drones to fly above our heads, indefinite detention of US citizens without due process and electronic observing of everything we send….all for the illusion of security. With freedom comes some chaos.

    • kirk

      the lunatic’s actions are the springboard to disarm all. when all are disarmed, the master class will have an entirely captive, docile population. they can then do anything and everything they desire to us all.

      THAT is why the reaction to a lunatic is to restrict the freedoms of everyone else.

    • Tony

      Because the biggest lunatic on top of the lunatic foodchain is always sitting in the white house. And right underneath it, in congress and the senate.
      “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” is the prime lunatic’s mindset.

  • kirk

    Turn the tables on those who would violate the right to keep and bear arms.

    Since the grabbers would use force to get their way, the non aggression principle does not apply to them.

    FORCE THE GRABBERS TO OWN FIREARMS.

  • Daphne Sylk

    Very few people are going to change their position regardless of how many kids are shot. As far as this video, Lott provided minimal supportive evidence for his argument, a few quick overheads at the end that allowed for no examination of what the charts actually said or how he arrived at those figures. His data has been repeatedly questioned by responsible people, he tends to leave out stats that don’t support his positions. There is an answer to be drawn from unbiased statistics, but both sides only point to numbers that support their foregone conclusions.

  • First Last

    Great documentary!

    Resonance – Beings of Frequency

  • Tighe

    I really can’t fall in line with the arguments against gun ownership, even when compared to other industrialized countries. Using recent statistics from Mother Jones on mass shootings and gun deaths from the CDC, we find that there have been about 60 mass shootings (+4 causalities) during the past 30 years, which the organization claims isn’t rare, though counting up the death toll one arrives at an underwhelming ~400 mass shooting deaths in that time period. Given that there are roughly 12k gun homicides (17k gun suicides per year) per year in the US, mass shootings account for around 0.001% of those. CDC further finds that a little less than 10% of gun homicides occur using a rifle rather than handgun, and account for fewer deaths per year than bladed homicides. So an ‘assault weapon’ (a politicized term, which really categories big scary guns in terms of cosmetic modifications, such as scope attachments and bayonet mounts, that are never reported in mass shootings, as well as extended clips, the exchange of which during a shooting is inconsequential to the unloading en masse of the device) ban then is over-regulating a negligible problem, particularly as it’s commonly known that murders more frequently occur between intimate parties, in which the murdering party usually has one or two victims in mind and a gun is a slight obstacle to that regard. It may also seem crass or unsympathetic to say gun violence is a negligible problem, but until adherents of gun restrictions take up the cause of preventing smoking deaths in the US (approx. 443k deaths per year in the US, ~40k of which are attributed to second-hand smoke, essentially homicide by smoke, compared to ~30k gun homicides plus suicides per year) at least as strong if not more so than the cause of gun regulation, it’s hard to suppose the final goal is to spare human life rather than to closet a big scary thing. And certainly, proponents of a ban similar to Clinton’s in ’94 can’t care at all, as it was superficial to say the least; if they claim there was a correlation to the decrease in gun violence, it may be the case, but in the years preceding the ban, gun violence was growing at a precipitated rate and only returned to levels prior to the increase during the ban; and just as well, gun violence as a whole has shown a marked consistent decrease after the ban expired. If there is any analogy to be drawn between the US and other industrialized nations with regard to their gun restrictions, it ought to be focused on the usual increase in general violent crime after a strong restriction is put into place. And with the US making up 39% of the small arms global market, often selling to warlords and autocrats, I’m certainly more comfortable with an armed citizenry.

  • Christian

    “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil
    interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”
    — George Washington

  • KStanonis

    This is not about defense against criminals, or about hunting, or going out and plinking some steel. It’s about protecting ourselves from tyranny and foreign invasion.

    Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto expressed an appropriate comment in the 1940’s (although some think this is could just be press propaganda):

    “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

    Whether or not Yamamoto ever actually said those words, doesn’t diminish the facts as they stand. A society without guns equal to those that might be turned at us (Perhaps by our own military) in the face of tyranny, could very well be subject to totalitarian rule