No Harm? No Crime

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America didn’t become a continental penal colony overnight. It happened step by step, over a period of many years. It’d be wonderful if we could do an overnight re-set, but that’s neither likely nor (probably) practical.

So, what can we do?

How about the same thing that was done to us – only in reverse: A piece-by-piece deconstruction of statism? A re-investing of individual rights – and individual responsibilities – as opposed collective obligations and group responsibility?

A return to the ancient, honorable principle of no harm – no crime.

Pie in the sky? Not at all. Consider, for example, the tremendous progress that’s been made over the past decade or so with regard to re-investing people with their right to possess arms. “Gun control” – that is, denying people who have done nothing to warrant it their the right to possess guns because some people have misused them – has been rolled back almost everywhere. Even in the heart of darkness itself – Washington, DC – where it is now at least possible for a resident to legally own a handgun.

Such a thing would have been inconceivable ten or twenty years ago.

In nearby Virginia, the peoples’ right to the means of armed self-defense has been almost fully restored. Open carry is lawful nearly everywhere. The state must issue a concealed handgun permit to any person who isn’t a convict who fills out the form and pays the small ($50) fee. In past years, the process was may issue – which meant it was up to the state to issue a permit – or not – at its whim. Often enough, it did not. The applicant had no recourse.

Other states have followed suit.

The one gun a month thing is gone. Draconian prohibitions on the possession of firearms are now the exception – not the rule. The demagogically named “assault weapons” ban (which outlawed rifles that “looked military” even though they functioned no differently than other rifles) is gone. In most states, a person can buy almost any type of gun he wants to.

The wheel has turned.

The general public no longer supports “gun control” – recognizing that it was built on a lie (take away honest people’s right to own guns and crime will go down; in fact the opposite happens everywhere this idea has been applied; the truth of this is so obviously self-evident it can no longer be denied). And much more critically, people are increasingly intolerant of having their rights rescinded on account of what other people have done.

This is a tremendous thing – a near total rolling back not merely of “gun control” laws but of the collectivist ideas behind them. The importance of this achievement cannot be over-emphasized. It is also a tonic – a reminder that all is not yet lost despite the almost daily accretion of collectivism.

We can effect change for the better. It is possible to snatch back our liberty.

It just requires the determination to see it through.

Here’s another area where we might focus our efforts: Mandatory “buckle up” (and motorcycle helmet) laws. As with laws denying people their right to to possess arms, these laws attack a basic human right – the right to be left alone by the law unless your actions threaten to harm or actually do cause harm to others. No one else is harmed – or even threatened – by someone not wearing a seatbelt. Or a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Therefore, the choice ought to be a matter of individual discretion – and not a matter for “the law.”

The main argument supporting laws requiring us to “buckle up” and to wear a helmet when riding a bike is that we might impose “costs on society.”

It is a silly, arbitrary argument – and much more profoundly, an affront to our right to be left in peace so long as we are peaceful.

Silly – and arbitrary – because we don’t sic the law on people for countless other personal decisions that don’t cause harm to others – everything from being overweight to exercising excessively to “worrying too much” to mowing the grass on a 96 degree day. These – and many more such – can all be said to involve elevated risk to the individual. Getting out of bed in the morning entails more risk than staying in bed. Life itself is necessarily “risky.”

Think of the laundry list of things you could come up with that might potentially involve “costs to society,” but which present no specific threat to any other individual.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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