L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 87, August 28, 2000
I Am The Very Model
I Haven't Killed Anyone Today
by Jeffrey Schwartz
Special to TLE
I haven't killed anyone today.
Heck, I haven't killed anyone at all.
It has nothing to do with the law saying I shouldn't, or my being afraid of being caught and going to trial, and then a jail term modified by "good behavior" and "gain time".
I've not done it because it is, to me, morally wrong to initiate force against another.
On the other hand, I feel it to be a moral imperative to reply to force with enough force to prevent the initiator from continuing. If I do not do something to stop a criminal, then am I not in some way responsible for his future actions?
Why am I mentioning all this?
There's a lot of debate going on about "The Second is or isn't an individual right" and "The Supreme Court says such and such." But that has nothing to do with the morality of the situation. It is worries about laws, and people don't obey laws they don't think are morally correct. They tend to do what they would do anyway.
Most people do what they think is morally correct, and when they don't, it's because they either don't have a developed moral sense, or some circumstance has caused them to decide to break the law.
I could use some extra money, and I would likely get away with a convince store heist. Heck, most bank robbers get away with the first one, and it isn't until they try it again they get caught.
But, to me, it isn't an option. Morally, it isn't correct.
Some people are desperate enough to do what they know is morally wrong - and then they break the law. They don't research it, and say "I'll be breaking USC ###-## in three particulars, later this afternoon, but the Supremes say that as long as I have a purple hat on, I'll be less likely to go to jail". They know they're doing something wrong, without worrying about the legalese.
To me, the argument over keeping and bearing arms is a similar moral issue.
Morally, as a free person, I believe that so long as I don't harm anyone else, I can own whatever I want to own. I can buy what and from whom I wish to conduct business with. I can go where I want to, so long as that doesn't impede others' personal property.
The position of the anti-gun crowd is that every person is a criminal waiting to happen, and people who own guns are on the "short waiting list". They must be tracked and registered and regulated the way a convicted child molester under Megan's Law must be.
I feel that to be an insulting abuse of someone who has committed no crime. It weakens the presumption of innocence our court system is based on, and opens the door for other things to be considered "public matters" that should best be left private.
Past that, though, is a deeper moral issue:
The most basic right of any living thing is to use whatever means are at hand to stay alive.
A little old lady has the right to be able to fight back effectively when pummeled by someone who is twice her weight and strength.
A woman jogging has the right to fight back, as effectively as possible, when attacked by a group of 'wilding' youths.
A man has the right to keep the money he worked for when a slob holds up his store.
The main reason the US/USSR Cold War never got hot was a parity of force; both sides were afraid to push the other. In some states, that balance is replayed on a smaller scale, and crime is dropping. The people who disdain morals and the law are not so quick to put their own lives in danger.
But that balance works, and it prevents more deaths. As a nation, we spent 50 years ready to trade nukes with "the commies", and that prevented the deaths that a conventional war would have caused.
I submit that the same is true on the smaller scale - in those CCW states, the honest, working, people and the criminals 'enjoy' the same balance. Meanwhile, in places like Washington DC, a small scale replay of the Soviet Forces vs Hungary occurs nightly. And just as the UN ignored that, the DC Police fail to prevent the murders.
The anti-rights people make an argument based on legality, and a form of "flexible ethics" where violating the privacy and rights of the 99%+ honest, law abiding gun owners is OK, so long as the end justifies the means.
I feel that argument to be morally wrong. Others, more skilled in legal understanding than I, debate it more effectively. Personally, I think enough has been cited to show the Second is an individual right, but I also think the argument is missing the point.
The "Anti's" need to ask themselves a couple questions:
Is it acceptable to be legally correct, and morally wrong? Are they debating legalities, and ignoring the moral issues?
And everyone should ask themselves:
Should anyone who thinks the morally correct thing is more important than the legally correct ever trust someone who believes the opposite?