Anyone Fancy Answering These Questions about Guns?


by Sean Gabb

I am just back from Slovakia, and have a mountain of writing and other work to climb. Debating the effects of firearm ownership is very low on my agenda.

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Dear Sean

I read this on the Libertarian Alliance website:

“For us, freedom of association is about the right to deal (or not) with any other consenting adult,  for any non-aggressive purpose, and without need for explanation.”

Can’t argue that one, really (but note my italics). No argument either with your stance on drugs. But how do you square the ‘non-aggression’ clause with…

“We believe in the right to carry and use guns for self-defence…”

Who decides whether or not an act is performed for the purposes of self-defence? Who, other than the despised State and its law enforcement officers, could be in any position to ensure a proper investigation into the facts and that justice is done, in the potentially countless incidents that’d surely arise if your wish-list were to become a legally-enshrined societal code (itself an oxymoron in this context, since you don’t seem to believe in ‘laws’)?

On any Friday night you’ll find any number of lairy, Stella-fuelled twats aching not just for the chance legally to swagger into their local with ‘nines’ on their belts, but to use the things, and with an impunity that our present structure denies them. What then? Gun law? Watch your backs, and the devil take the hindmost? Literally kill or be killed? Presumably all the perps need do is bleat “self-defence, guv, he had it coming” and everything’s okay.

What a future! Interested in your case for the defence. Preferably one grounded in sense, reason and rationality and that doesn’t involve a lot of reheated, pseudo-profound Ayn Rand bilge.

Richard Butterworth
Economy with Words®

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6 responses to “Anyone Fancy Answering These Questions about Guns?

  1. Having gradually lost the freedom to own and carry effective means of self defence a similarly gradual reversal might be necessary as well. That’s partly because of practical considerations – for all its faults the reality is that we live in democracies and the majority will not allow this liberty unless they’re persuaded that the sky won’t fall. So perhaps a loosening of restrictions to allow licensed carry of capsicum spray first, then maybe tasers and stun guns, and finally firearms, possibly starting at the low powered end of the scale with de-restriction and perhaps phasing out of licenses being the eventual aim. Make no mistakes, this will be a very, very hard sell, but I think to go straight to de-restriction would be an impossible one.

    I think there’s also the problem that the concern about Stella fuelled fighty drunks with firearms in clubs on a Friday night isn’t unfounded, though there are also libertarian solutions – as private property a club or pub or bookshop or any other business would be able to have a no guns policy and insist that they’re left at home or checked in at the door etc. If that’s a problem for the gun-owner they can go and look for a competitor that will let them in tooled up. I’d bet most pubs and clubs will go with a no guns rule. Again, a gradual move toward freedom of self-defence may help.

    As for the question about who determines what is an act of aggression and what is self-defence, yes, assuming that it had maintained it’s monopoly the hated state would investigate, but while it may decide to charge or not it doesn’t make the final decision – juries do. Aside from removing the absolute offences, the ones that reduce the jury’s roll to rubber-stamping a pre-determined verdict decided by politicians rather than the courts, I don’t see why they can’t carry on doing so.

    And since when did libertarians not believe in laws? Laws that restrict freedom unnecessarily, yes, laws that create victimless crimes, sure. But I doubt many libertarians oppose laws against theft, murder, rape, assault, fraud and so on. Shouldn’t think they’d have too many issues with laws that restrict the state either ;-)

  2. Presumably, non-aggressive self defence means not getting a gun in order to be a lairy Stella fuelled twat down the pub, but rather someone who might, -if he or she were about to be a victim of crime- use it for defence. As to whether there would be more violence if we had relaxed gun laws, who can say.There was a time before gun control, and it would be interesting to compare rates of gun use for criminal activity with the present. I haven’t actually seen any research on it but, I suspect there is more gun crime now if only because, apart from a few police officers the only people who regularly carry and use guns are the bloody criminals. As to the question of who decides self-defence that would be up to the courts just as it is now.The difference in being allowed to carry a weapon for defence might be that instead of waiting for a jury to decide whether or not I was a victim- murdered/battered and robbed/ raped I could be waiting to hear if I was justified in shooting the would-be attacker. And I know which position I would sooner be in because I have complete trust in myself to know when I am in danger. And if I make a mistake of judgement then I will pay the price. What we have at the moment is a situation where we pay the price of someone else’s bad intentions, i.e the criminal.

  3. “Preferably one grounded in sense, reason and rationality and that doesn’t involve a lot of reheated, pseudo-profound Ayn Rand bilge.”

    My response:

    What would be the point of that? Judging from the language, the general tone of the email, the straw man about not believing in laws and the gratuitous Ayn Rand* comment, I’ll bet you wouldn’t recognise a rational argument if it shot you in the kneecaps.

    *The only thing I’ve ever heard Ayn Rand mention with respect to firearms was a general comment during an interview (I’ve forgotten who it was with) that she was against gun control except in marginal forms, and that it was a non-essential issue in the grand scheme of things. But denouncing as ‘bilge’ a position you’re clearly unfamiliar with? Now where does that fit on the stupidity scale, I wonder?

  4. Since arbitrary gun law has never been legal, the whole thing is really a straw man, or an argument ad extremum, or some such fallacy. It’s always been the case under the common law that anyone- including the “authorities”- using violence indiscriminately is going to end up standing trial themself. Self defence never has been and would not be a recipe for carte blanche.

    There’s no case to answer.

  5. “I haven’t actually seen any research on it but, I suspect there is more gun crime now if only because, apart from a few police officers the only people who regularly carry and use guns are the bloody criminals.”

    As they say in the USA, “if you outlaw guns, only OUTLAWS will have guns”.