Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrate Veterans Day with Sam Adams, Guns, and James Bond

Today is Veterans Day, the perfect time to reflect upon the brave men who defend our freedom with guns — like James Bond (appearing in this week’s Quantum of Solace, prior to which a certain taxidermist and I, noted yesterday and discussed in more detail tomorrow, plan to watch more than one version of Casino Royale).

Why not celebrate the occasion by purchasing New York Sun survivor Ira Stoll’s book on Revolution-stoker Samuel Adams and Reason editor Brian Doherty’s book on Gun Control on Trial?

As I told a skeptical Obama supporter at an election-night party last week (after he was done grilling the taxidermist about her vote for McCain and her fondness for her fellow hot librarian type, Palin): no right is more fundamental than the right to self-defense, and the fiend who would take away a citizen’s right to bear arms is no better than the thug who holds someone’s arms behind his back while another thug beats the victim’s face.

NRA4ever, in short — troubling as I find the NRA’s capitulation to some existing gun laws. But no organization is perfect.

(I’m sure to some of you this attitude sounds simplistic, but I assure you I am a high-IQ Ivy League-minted philosophy major — oh! and tomorrow I need to swing by the comics shop and buy the one where Superman from Earth-22 fights Superman from Earth-1 — or is it Earth-0? Or New Earth? Anyway, if I had a gun that shot Kryptonite bullets, you can bet your ass I’d never kneel before Zod.)


Perry said...

I thought libertarianism was just about economic issues, Todd.

David said...

I’m saddened to see you go soft like this as you age.

Dirtyrottenvarmint said...

While generally supportive of the policy goal, I think the argument requires further study. The fundamental right is that to self-ownership, i.e. life and that which a life creates – private property. The right to private property implies (creates?) a right to defend that property.

The right to _bear arms_ specifically firearms, certainly relates in part to this right to self defense, but as the old saw goes about Mr. Colt making men equal, firearm ownership is first about equality, and only secondarily about liberty. The healthy constitutional democratic republic requires common ownership of firearms in order that (a) a well-armed minority is unable to subjugate the masses, and (b) the masses are unable to subjugate a well-armed minority without significant cost. Thus the language in the DoI: “…being necessary to the security of a free State…” Common firearm ownership creates a relative egalitarianism of force. Absent this state of affairs human social interaction is inherently Hobbesian: given an unequal distribution of physical martial prowess (and there is) the strong will always rule the weak (the strong define themselves as “we who rule”. Usually this means the physically strong, but this is not necessary.) Only if this naturally unequal distribution is radically altered – through the common ownership of firearms which make weak and strong relatively equal in martial prowess – can rule-of-law liberalism/libertarianism succeed. (While it’s true that use of a firearm requires some skill and physical ability, it is nothing compared with that required by, say, a medieval man-at-arms.)

I hope this relatively long comment helps make the point that while firearm ownership (and use) is certainly one means of effecting one’s right to self-defense, firearm ownership is more fundamentally important: an egalitarianism of deadly force is the bedrock on which is built the entire principle of democratic rule-of-law. (Liberty without rule-of-law is impossible: anarchy is no different from a state of nature which is, of course, naturally Hobbesian. Note that “law” does not necessarily imply a State, however.)

As such, it is not enough to be _allowed_ to bear arms; it is vital that firearm ownership be common and widespread. Any significant monopolization of deadly force in a society will inevitably lead to monopolization of rule, that is to say, tyranny. (See “Road to Serfdom”.)

Questions: Is the U.S. already on the road to monopolization of force? If so, how far along, and what can we point to as the start?