Monday, September 18, 2006

Autonomy, the NRA, and Shooting Thy Neighbor

Dear Mr. Supposed Philosopher:
{Audio this essay @ 3.6MB .mp3}

Having sat-in on your ultra right-wing, red-state lecture on capital punishment a couple years ago where you claimed to vote republican (once), I have a question for you, you raging conservative. What is your opinion on issues regarding gun control, second amendment rights and the right to bear arms?

I've been having a discussion with a couple of guys at church about these issues and would be interested in hearing your take on them I figure you may be torn because although you are a red-neck, ex-military boy from Ken-tuk-eeeee, you have spent ample time in the liberal academy, which should possibly offset these tendencies. Please, do tell; and remember, Bubba shot the jukebox last night!


--Armed in Missouri

Dear Missouri Freeloader:

Admittedly, I have often contemplated joining the NRA, since I affirm that gun ownership is both a constitutional right and a prudential decision. I should also point out that the NRA, though now known for its (overly) zealous position on the constitutional rights of gun ownership, was originally formed by a couple of Civil-war generals who were concerned about the despicable marksmanship of the young men entering into military service.[1]

Originally, gun ownership was based upon the abilities of local militia to keep government at bay and to have a standing citizenry as an armed force at the impetus of our country's independence. Obviously, the former is no longer possible, and the latter is no longer practical.

However, my interest is not in keeping the government at bay, but in keeping my fellow citizens at bay. Thus, I can protect my property and my natural family interests by having sufficient firepower to keep random thugs, or even thug bands at bay. When there exists both sufficient state registration laws and the pervasive presence of weapons among the populous, it makes breaking and entering a much more dangerous endeavor; this will lower the probabilities of otherwise unscrupulous thugs attempting burglary on a casual basis.

Morgan O. Reynolds, in a study titled, "Crime By Choice: An Economic Analysis"[2] gives what I take to be convincing evidence for my personal anti-thug-infestation position:

* New Jersey adopted what sponsors described as "the most stringent gun law" in the nation in 1966; two years later, the murder rate was up 46 percent and the reported robbery rate had nearly doubled.
* In 1968, Hawaii imposed a series of increasingly harsh measures and its murder rate, then a low 2.4 per 100,000 per year, tripled to 7.2 by 1977.
* In 1976, Washington, D.C., enacted one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. Since then, the city's murder rate has risen 134 percent while the national murder rate has dropped 2 percent.

What this (and other studies) tell me is that if gun control laws have any effect, then such control laws seem to increase rather than decrease crime.

Admittedly, The current per-capita risk of thug infestation is certainly very low, but times can change quickly and short term disasters could come suddenly (e.g. Hurricane Katrina or the LA riots). In those cases, I might want to have adequate defenses to guard what has been justly acquired by law, but which is under unjust threat from my fellow citizens. For example, and as we've seen in recent natural disasters, local and state authorities can lose control for short durations of time, so gun ownership is a fall-back position for when governments fail in their ability to maintain order. The weaker members of our society also gain the ability to assert their natural right of self defense, as one of the more interesting second amendment advocate organizations makes very, very clear.

And, please, keep in mind I'm Libertarian, not Republican. God bless America (and any other democracy which respects the liberty, autonomy, and self-determination of its citizens).



[1] "A Brief History of the NRA" Official NRA of America Homepage (Accessed 18 Sept 2006)

[2] Morgan O. Reynolds, Crime By Choice: An Economic Analysis (Dallas: Fisher Institute, 1985), pp. 165-68.



At 2:10 PM, Anonymous JCM said...

If Mr. Missouri Freeloader ever saw you shoot at anything he would surly know that although you are a supporter of the NRA, you pose little threat to all of those small little creatures of God that run around in the barin land of Idaho...

Proudly Republican,



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