We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Cheap shots and lousy aim

Besides the oversights and misreads by Charles Dodgson that Perry has already pointed out, Charles also missed the whole point behind my argument when he says

But the state is involved in sales of private cars in the United States; individual states maintain registries of who owns what vehicle. That’s what the funny metal plates with the numbers on them are all about. They also generally demand annual inspections, and will deny the use of a car even to that car’s lawful owner if they don’t like the smell of burning oil coming out of the tailpipe.

I was more hopeful in this bit where Charles stumbled upon the truth but then he picked himself up and hurried away as if nothing had happened.

As to the breathalyzers, that’s not tied to purchases, but the sad facts there are even worse. Even if you’ve already purchased a vehicle, the state will deny you the use of that vehicle — your own lawfully acquired property — for trifles like a few drunk driving arrests. And, as Walter seemed to acknowledge, most of them won’t let you drive unless you buy insurance, interfering with another private choice.

Yes. The state places many regulations on the use of your property after you buy it. It does not stop you from acquiring it nor does it specify from whom you can buy it or to whom you can sell it. In most states the local government is more concerned with collecting sales tax on the transaction than on who was involved in the deal. Indeed, all the use regulations only apply if you intend to operate the auto on public roads and lands. Keep it in the garage or drive it only on your property and you often don’t have to deal with any of that.

With guns, laws were originally of a similar “use type” and codified what was already common sense, i.e. no shooting in town, etc. The current trend in firearm regulation, however, interferes with the acquisition and possession, not just the use. That is a very important difference. I believe the technical term is prior restraint but perhaps a Constitutional scholar out there could clear that up.

This issue actually runs deeper than guns. It touches upon the fundamental worldview of individuals, states and the balance of rights. Are we subjects with a few privileges doled out by an over-riding state or are we citizens with basic rights that our chosen leaders must observe?

As you probably guessed, I lean very heavily toward the latter. While I value the US Constitution, I don’t believe it grants us any rights. It simply codifies what our basic rights already are. That’s the bit in the pre-amble talking about self-evident truths and inalienable rights. The US is different from most countries in that the government acknowledges its obligation to recognize those inalienable rights and vows to protect them. To the extent that it limits those rights and the liberties they describe, the government reneges on that promise.

I have to ask about this one too:

Which is what I think of people who try to protect their civil rights with guns. Any actual use of the guns against government authority turns into a firefight which, even Perry acknowledges, you basically can’t win:

Why then has every newly installed tyrant and dictator begun their reign by rounding up the guns in private hands? No to dwell too long in the past, but I believe it was Ben Franklin who said “Tyranny can not exist in the United States because the whole body of the people is armed.” (emphasis mine)

Charles may not realize it, but he is making our point when he states.

If Britain were just trying to maintain control and damn the consequences, they (Irish Republicians) would all have been rounded up and shot, along with any other Catholic who showed a hint of sympathy for the cause. There’s a ready stock of Protestant militants to serve as informers and triggermen …

Yup. You have some definite sectarian violence there. But what if the weapons are scattered across ethnic, racial, religious and economic lines and you can’t get one group to turn on the other? When everybody is a potential resister and willing to pay the price, you have to kill everybody to end all resistance.

Which brings us to the granddaddy of them all. Do you think the US military would fire on its own citizens? A very similar question was actually asked some Marines during a training exercise in 29 Palms. The exact question is in this article, but the upshot was something like: “Would you fire on citizens who refused to turn in illegal weapons?” 60% said no, 28% said yes, 12% didn’t care either way. The implications of those numbers could fill volumes.

But aren’t you just a teensy weensy bit curious why they asked?

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