Special to TLE
This weekend 100,000 women are expected to visit Washington to push
for new gun-control laws, as part of the "Million Mom March."
I understand their desire to make the world safer for their children.
But, unfortunately, their proposals would make their children -- and
themselves -- less safe.
There already are 20,000 federal gun laws and regulations on the
books. If those laws haven't made America safe by now, why should we
think 20,001 laws will suffice?
We shouldn't. Instead, we need to recognize that those 20,000 laws
are a principal cause of the current violence in society. They have
made our children and all innocent adults much less safe -- by
disarming innocent citizens and encouraging armed criminals to take
advantage of us.
So it's time to face reality and repeal these laws -- all of them.
By definition, law-breakers don't obey laws. Hardened criminals do
whatever is necessary to evade identification and arrest. So they
don't buy guns that can be traced; they buy them in the underworld or
simply steal them.
Thus the gun-control laws don't apply to criminals or stop gun
violence. They simply make it much harder for innocent people to
defend themselves -- encouraging criminals to take advantage of us.
In other words, gun-control laws make the world safer for criminals
and less safe for you.
Stripping Away your Safety
Let's take a brief look at how the various kinds of gun-control laws
make you more vulnerable.
Waiting periods: A waiting period means that a woman being stalked
will have to remain defenseless for a few extra days. Will her
stalker refrain from assaulting her until the waiting period is over?
Safety locks: Although safety locks might prevent a child from
accidentally firing a gun, they also can slow you down when you need
a gun in a hurry to defend yourself. Imagine a woman attacked by a
rapist in a parking lot. Will she be grateful for the time it takes
to unlock her gun? And, of course, if her adversary is carrying a
gun, it won't have a safety lock.
Registration of handguns: What would this achieve? Nothing positive.
Evil-doers won't register their guns; only law-abiding citizens will.
And once your gun is registered, you'll have to be afraid that some
future President whose heart isn't pure will use that registration to
confiscate your only means of defense against armed criminals.
Licensing of guns or gun-owners: Since criminals won't acquire them,
gun licenses won't help find the perpetrator of a violent crime. They
are simply a gratuitous invasion of your privacy and that of other
Background checks for purchasers: No one wanted by law-enforcement
agencies is going to buy a gun in a way that requires a background
check. He'll get his gun from another criminal or steal it. So the
only achievement of a background check is your inconvenience.
But don't background checks catch people with criminal records?
If someone is wanted by the police, he certainly isn't going to
undergo a background check. On the other hand, if the gun-buyer is an
ex-convict who has paid his debt to society, he should have the right
to defend himself from predators -- just as you or I do. Or should
his criminal record also prohibit him from buying food or clothing?
Require guns to be locked up: If the law requires guns to be kept out
of reach of children, how will the law be enforced? Will the police
invade your house periodically to verify that your guns are in safe
places? If not, what's the point of the law? If yes, this is another
gratuitous invasion of your privacy.
Ban some types of guns: At first glance it might seem reasonable to
ban such things as assault weapons or mortars. After all, you
don't need such a weapon.
But some people do.
During most riots, the police have been outnumbered and have
intentionally stayed clear of gangs that were looting and
vandalizing. Suppose your life savings are invested in a store the
gangs are about to loot. And suppose you have little or no insurance
because your store is in a poor and dangerous section of town. How
will you defend the store against the looters? With a knife? With a
handgun against a dozen attackers? Or with an assault weapon?
If you prevent innocent citizens from acquiring assault weapons,
criminal gangs will still have them -- even if they have to smuggle
them into America from thousands of miles away. So why pass laws that
disarm only the innocent?
You might be able to imagine the perfect law that allows just the
right people to own just the right types of guns, while prohibiting
other people from owning inappropriate firearms. But remember, you're
only imagining such a law; it will never be a reality. Once the issue
is turned over to the politicians, it will be decided by whoever has
the most political influence -- and that will never be you or I.
A Sane Crime Policy
The only effective crime policy is to have no laws regulating the
ownership of guns, but to prosecute anyone who intrudes on the person
or property of another -- with or without a gun.
You really have only two choices. Either:
* Politicians will decide what you can own -- and they will never
stop their prohibitions at the point you believe best.
* Or people will decide for themselves what they can own.
Any apparent middle ground between the two actually grants the
politicians the power to choose for you.
And all such choices will be made by whoever has the most political
influence. So attempts to limit gun ownership will do more to promote
the political interests of well-connected people than to reduce
A Safe Society
Disarmed citizens encourage crime and violence.
Armed citizens encourage criminals to find a safer line of work.
The National Rifle Association and Republican politicians have
recently urged that today's 20,000 gun-control laws be enforced -- no
matter how bad those laws.
Libertarians easily see the folly in this. Libertarians know that
those laws are, at best, useless -- and, at worst, highly dangerous.
Libertarians want all the counter-productive gun laws to be repealed
This year there will be 2,000 Libertarians running for federal,
state, and local offices -- all the way from President of the United
States to municipal offices. All of them support your right to defend
yourself -- without qualification.
They provide the one avenue by which you can register your
unqualified disapproval for today's gun-control climate.
For safety sake, we must repeal all the gun laws.
Harry Browne is running for President of the United States as a
Libertarian candidate. More of his articles can be found at