Paths to Greater Safety

Only a couple of general paths will be mentioned in this brief blog, not a complete menu.

“Libertarians believe that every person has the right to arm themselves in self-defense.” That’s a quote from the Libertarian Party. That’s one path to greater safety. The baseline is that arming oneself is a right. It therefore should be legal and available to all adults. This means that the government has no right to impose undue obstacles on acquiring and carrying firearms.

In a world without a state, protection vendors, cooperatives and insurers of safety determine whom to accept as customers. They may impose conditions before selling protection. We do not know what may result.

Alternatively, when there is no state, one may always exercise one’s right to arm oneself by oneself and not buy protection.

In a world with a limited state, the government has the franchise to protect. It delivers public safety. Our actual system is dual. We personally do many things to secure our safety. Of great importance is that each of us also has an assured constitutional right to bear arms personally. This mirrors the right to self-defense that exists irrespective of government.

In a world with a state, a government’s general charge to protect us runs into an area of ambiguity concerning our personal right to bear arms because some adults have shown by their behavior that they are threats to the peace. By doing so, they lose their right to bear arms. A government does nothing inconsistent with libertarian theory if it disallows such unqualified persons from access to arms.

There are other gray areas. Any adult is a threat to others who does not know how to handle firearms. A certain amount of training is essential. An adult who allows unqualified persons access to arms is a second problem. A qualified arms-bearer who allows an unqualified person access to his arms is acting irresponsibly to cause a threat to the peace. A third problem is the nature of the arms. Arms that can destroy masses of people may be per se threats to the peace.

The two general paths to greater public safety are, first, implementing every adult’s basic right to bear arms. This path creates greater deterrence against crime, and people who want to carry arms will have a good in the form of greater safety. The second major path is to prevent arms in the hands of people whose records are such that they have forfeited their right to bear arms. These people are unqualified because if they are armed they are a threat to the safety of others.

Here’s an addendum, 2 hours after the preceding was published. It’s to quell the uneasiness that some may feel at having to face up to the unpleasant truth that a government may rightly filter out people from bearing arms who are threats to the public safety.

In the no-government situation, no one, no protection company, has the authority to walk up and say you cannot be trusted with firearms. However, a property owner has the right to deny entrance to people deemed unfit to bear arms. A person might need to be granted a guarantee of insurance by some third party protection company before a property owner would allow entrance, and such seals of approval might not be granted to various people based on various criteria. A mall owner might limit access and not allow in people without such seals.

In our actual world, the whole process is done without markets and with rules determined in irrational and partly-rational ways by governments. In reality, rights are only imperfectly the baseline for thinking about what should be done by governments and what governments actually do.

We cannot hide from the apparent truth that there is probably going to be a process of preventing some persons from getting arms in both worlds: Ex-felons, juveniles with records of various kinds, violent schizophrenics, people with several characteristics that are known to signal violent behavior. Someone is going to have to draw lines, imperfect lines. In the ancap world, the mall owner offering greater safety by admitting only preferred people would surely do more business after a few shootings in malls without such protection measures. In our world, we have this very slow, cumbersome, irrational, politically volatile process by which states try to find ways to control violent behavior.


9:47 am on August 7, 2019