Gun Rights and Freedom

For those that do not know me, I am an avid gun owner and hobbyist. I reload my own ammunition, build my own guns, and own multiple different firearms – aka the neoliberal nightmare. As such, I hold the right to bear arms as one the most crucial tenets of human freedom. Gun ownership allows one to defend their person and property from threats of violence and aggression from other parties, including the government. Criminalizing self-defense is, in practice, the prohibition of an individual maintaining their human rights.

Similar to drug prohibition, I believe the gun control debate starts and ends with one simple truth: the government has no authority to regulate or prohibit what an individual does with their legally acquired property as long as it does not violate the rights of another, nor do they have the authority to regulate what you can possess. It is a dangerous presumption that the only means to reduce violence is restricting the natural rights of otherwise law abiding citizens.

I don’t intend to dive into statistics because I view them as moot. With many hotly debated topics, statistics are generalized and can be very misleading, regardless of which side is using them. Gun crime statistics rarely address an underlying cause and are used to draw false conclusions. A lot of the most violent gun crimes are a result of black market drug distribution and would likely cease to occur if drug prohibition were repealed. Further, the actions of one or more people do not justify infringing upon the rights of another.

One argument I frequently hear is that the “founding fathers didn’t intend for 2A to include modern firearms”. I believe the constitution is outdated and needs some reform to address the ills of an ever-intrusive government. However, I do not believe that a 200 year old piece of paper defines and protects my natural rights. These rights exist by virtue of being human, not because our founding fathers “bestowed” them upon a piece of paper.

Let’s assume they could not foresee the development of modern firearms. We can also assume they did not foresee the development of the Internet. Does this mean the first amendment does not protect free speech on the Internet? A neoliberal will likely say that it does as long as no one is offended and you agree with them.

Gun control activists will often call for “reasonable” gun laws often aimed at deterring mentally ill people from acquiring guns. Describing gun control laws as “reasonable” is political double speak. What is reasonable to one person may not be to another, nor are any infringements of natural human rights “reasonable”. It also fails to acknowledge many of the laws already on the books. They want “universal background checks”, but they ignore that states already do this. For example, in my state of PA, we use the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) for transfers and LTCF permits. PICS checks all state, local, and federal records. It even checks international records for certain countries. In fact, PA gun laws are about as sensible and basic as one can get.

After tragic shooting events, there are rallying cries for “common sense laws” to prevent mentally ill people from acquiring firearms. For one, I do not believe that any predisposition of one’s person (i.e. physical or mental handicaps) provides them with less rights. There are cases which this may be acceptable, such as prohibiting blind people from driving. However, these cases are few and far between, and only exist because of a direct threat to another. A blind person driving poses a much greater risk to others while driving, whereas a mentally ill person with a gun can only be as violent as speculation permits. There are no metrics or systems that prove a person with Disease A is X% more likely to commit acts of violence.

While some mentally ill may have more violent tendencies, there is no way of knowing if a person with one disease will certainly commit an act of violence. A different person with the same disease may not commit any violent crimes. It’s merely speculation at best. As stated before, the acts of a few do not demand your rights be subjected to questioning.

Furthermore, while mass shootings are certainly tragedies, they represent a very small drop in a very large bucket of violent crime. If gun control is intended to reduce crime, where do we limit the regulation to prohibit ownership of deadly objects? Government rarely limits the extent of its power, as evident in the recent controversy of domestic spy programs and the calls for reform.

For gun control advocates, they seem to be oblivious to how gun laws (or any laws) are enforced. When the state makes a law, advocates of the law often overlook the inevitable outcome of disobeying it. Let’s say that the federal government passes a law tomorrow that bans all guns and citizens must immediately handover their guns. For those who do not comply, armed agents of the State (the police) will come to your house, kick in your door, and hold you at gun point until you hand over your guns. Failure to comply authorizes these agents to assault/kill you or, at the very least, kidnap you. Thus, while anti-gunners claim that their end is a peaceful society, the means to that end is filled with aggression and threats of violence. One can look no further than Eric Garner’s death to see that the State will ultimately kill in order to enforce their subjective laws.

While gun control will continue to be a hotly debated topic, I do not foresee any major changes to gun laws. Yes, regulatory bodies like the ATF will continue to make gun ownership more of a hassle (i.e. interpreting the National Firearms Act). Certain states may continue to pass strict laws, such as Washington and Connecticut, but I think federal politicians have realized gun control is hopeless and political suicide. Efforts to reduce crime would be more effective by concentrating on reducing the causes of violence (i.e. drug distribution) and not the tool of such violence.

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