Via the Mises Economics Blog
From Ayn Rand Answers
What is your opinion on gun control laws?
I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it’s not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, noncriminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It’s not an important issue, unless you’re ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn’t very practical.
What is your attitude toward gun control?
It’s a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people–they are not carried for hunting animals–and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.
Interestingly, one of the commenters points out that Capitalism.org, affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute has taken a much more pro gun stance than Rand. Plus which, they don’t believe that gun rights are based on the Second Amendment.
Is the right to own a gun based on the second amendment?
No. The right to own guns is not based on the second amendment. If there were no second amendment in the U.S. Constitution, one would still possess a right to own a weapon of self-defense, which in today’s context, means a firearm, i.e., a gun.
What is the basis of the right to own a gun for self-defense?
The right to own a firearm, is based on the right to self-defense, i.e., the right to those means to defend oneself against those who wish to destroy one’s life. The right to self-defense is itself is a corollary of the right to life (a corollary is here defined as a self-evident implication of a general principle).
It would be absurd to say one has the right to life, but does not have the right to the means necessary to protect that life. It would be like saying one has the right to life, but not the right to purchase food. Yet, this is what opponents to the right to own a gun are really against: the right to life.
Unfortunately, it is the right to life, that is ignored in the debate over the right to bear arms, both by its opponents, and by its so-called defenders! As Alexander Maher writes in Capitalism Magazine:
“The field of battle on which gun control should be fought is exactly on this issue: man’s rights. Statistical arguments on gun control are a red herring — as the leftists’ appeals to hungry children or the environmentalists’ appeals to clean parks are also meant to distract their opponents from the fundamental issues at stake. While the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other defenders of the right to bear arms argue over statistics and interpreting the Constitution, the real issues remain untouched and are sacrificed to the enemies of our freedom.”
How is the right to self-defense applied under capitalism?
Under capitalism, it is the government’s job to use force to defend its citizen’s rights; however, government is not omnipotent, and it is not omnipresent: it cannot be everywhere. In many cases the protective forces of government cannot arrive to a criminal situation in time to prevent an irreversible situation, i.e., such as a murder. As such, every peaceful citizen has the right to those means necessary to protect themselves in emergency situations, until the police can arrive to ‘takeover’, i.e., an intrusion by a would be rapist when a woman is alone in ones apartment.
Now I have read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: An Unknown Ideal and most of Return of the Primitive. I don’t remember the subject of gun control coming up in her books. So I guess that’s why this post caught my eye.
This whole exerp from Capitalism.org is one the most cogent arguments for gun rights I’ve ever read — I would say as good as the excellent book The Seven Myths of Gun Control. I think conservatives get into trouble when they argue for gun rights just on the basis of the Second Amendment. I mean, you’re going to have quite the uphill battle if the other side wholeheartedly believes that a “well regulated militia” just means an armed state or federal government. So rather than arguing about what does or does not constitute a militia, I think a good question to ask a gun control freak is if they would put up a sign on their door that their home is a firearm free zone. They would most likely say no, then add that there should be more police. Now I don’t know about you guys, but from what I’ve noticed, many liberal types hate the police. I think that would be another thing to remind them of.