What Government Should Do About Crime and About Ownership of Guns by Private Citizens

In my previous post, I argued that Americans Absolutely Need to Own Advanced Firearms. The people who want to take away our guns are the people who have caused high crime in the first place, through their New Leftist ideas: anti-reality, anti-free will, anti-reason, anti-moral absolutes, anti-individual, anti-capitalism, anti-West, anti-America, anti-human. Moreover, the New Left has caused and/or made us vulnerable to serious threats to the very existence of civilized society. I concluded, “Because the New Leftist world we now live in is so dangerous, we need our guns not only in our homes, but also in public places.” I also stated, “Keeping our firearms is a necessary part of our best chance for survival. Indeed, we need more firepower, not less.”

In this post, I answer the question, “What should a rational government do about crime and about ownership of firearms by private citizens?”

The Obama Administration certainly will not take any of the actions I propose. But it is possible that states or local governments could take at least some of these actions. More importantly, it is necessary for us gun owners to understand what government should do. We need to know what is right in order to defend our rights.

It is also instructive to consider how much of our current crime is caused by current government policies, and how much less crime there could be under more rational government, even in the face of anti-reason cultural forces—among our so-called intellectuals, educators, and artists, for instance—that transcend politics.

The most fundamental thing that government should do is to take a clear stand that Americans’ right to bear arms, in accordance with the Second Amendment, is absolute. A private citizen has the right to own the same weapons that a soldier or a police officer uses. There are more than a million American soldiers and roughly a million police officers on active duty in the United States. If millions of Americans can be trusted with advanced firearms, then so can tens of millions. The fact that millions of private citizens already own advanced firearms supports my point. As I wrote in my last post, “It is far more likely to be murdered by an Obama-supporter than by a capitalist, anti-Obama owner of advanced firearms.”

While the Obama Administration has been undercutting the Second Amendment, the Utah Sheriffs’ Association last week took a principled and heroic stand:

We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights—in particular Amendment II—has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.

The next thing government should do is to remove all forms of sanction and financial support for the ideas that encourage crime. This means an end to the welfare state, that is, an end to all government programs that rob from some to give to others. Above all, government should end all public education, which not only takes from some to give to others, but explicitly teaches that it is good to do so.

New Leftist ideas are entrenched in many private schools too, such as Harvard and other Ivy League colleges. But ending all government financing of education, including student loans and research grants, would create a freer market in which capitalist educators could compete against the citadels of socialism/fascism.

Similarly, the government should get out of the fields of journalism, broadcasting, and the arts; the government has no right to be in those fields any more than it has a right to be in religion or education. The government should end public broadcasting and stop licensing broadcasters, instead recognizing broadcast frequencies as private property. (See Ayn Rand’s essay, ‘The Property Status Of Airwaves, in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, originally in The Objectivist Newsletter, April 1964.) The government should end the ironically-named National Endowment for the Arts—National Disgrace Against Art and Country would be a more apt name—which forces individuals to pay for live theatre, art, and music that these individuals would not pay for voluntarily. The government must not ban depraved, crime-promoting movies, art, and music, but it can stop subsidizing depraved live theatre, art exhibits, and concerts. One generation’s depravity on the pseudo-intellectual art scene often becomes the next generation’s depravity in popular culture.

The government should also end all regulations that limit the freedom of private citizens to work and to enter into contracts by mutual consent. That means an end to all laws entrenching labor unions, an end to all restrictions on the freedom of business owners, and—above all—and end to minimum-wage laws; unskilled workers must be set free to work, if even for low pay, and thereby acquire more skills to climb the ladder of success. People who are politically free and economically busy have less excuse and less time for crime.

Next, government should end prohibition of all drugs, as it ended prohibition of alcohol in 1933. The prices of currently-illegal drugs would plummet, because there would no longer be government-enforced barriers to entry into the market, and the incomes of drug traffickers would plummet. That means that the drug traffickers would have much less money with which to buy guns and commit crime. At the same time, people currently receiving government welfare payments would not have money with which to buy drugs and guns. At the same time, the drug addicts would not get drug treatments paid for by government or by insurance companies coerced by government. People on drugs would have to face the alternative presented by reality: forego drugs and become productive; or use drugs, be unproductive, and die. Either way, they would be less available to commit crime.

Ending prohibition would also free up a tremendous amount of police resources to respond to real crime instead of ‘victimless crime’, which is not real crime.

Government should also abolish laws against other victimless crimes such as gambling, prostitution, and—above all—immigration. Any non-criminal, non-disease-carrying individual should be free to enter the United States and work just like any American citizen. [Update: I have changed my mind on immigration. See this post dated December 28, 2015.]

On one condition, illegal immigrants who are already here should be granted immediate amnesty. Yes, they violated immigration laws in coming here, but—with the exception noted below—they did so under duress: they were escaping governments that were even more socialist/fascist than the Obama Administration. (After all, Obama is still somewhat constrained by the Constitution.) They deserve a medal, not deportation.

The one condition is that immigrants must not be eligible for any government handouts: no public health care, no public education, etc. We don’t have an immigration problem; we have a welfare-state problem. It used to be that immigrants came to America for freedom, and so America got most of the world’s best people. Since the rise of the welfare state, some still come here for freedom, but others come for handouts. If we end the government handouts and also abolish the minimum wage, then the ones who are here for freedom will stay and work, and the ones who are here for welfare will either starve or first leave and then starve.

Immigrants who are here to work do not commit crimes. The criminal immigrants are ones who are here for drug trafficking (which would go away if we legalized drugs), human trafficking (which would go away if we legalized immigration and other victimless crimes), and the fruits of the labor of others (which would go away if we ended the welfare state). When the reasons for these criminals to be here go away, the criminals too will go away or die away.

Citizenship is another story; citizenship should be very difficult to attain, because voting is a grave responsibility. For one thing, immigrant candidates for citizenship should be required to pass a rigorous test of knowledge of American principles of government—a test that our current President would fail.

Now I come to policies explicitly about firearms. We should take a lesson from a metaphysical fact and a historical fact.

The metaphysical fact is that good people are far more productive than bad people are. The reason is that good people are rational, and bad people are not. In primitive times, when weapons were crude, evil people could sometimes conquer good people through muscle power. Those days are long gone (unless the New Left brings them back). The good guys—the free guys—produce more food and other necessities, giving them more time to work on advanced weapons; and the good guys are the ones who invent and produce each new generation of advanced weapons. All that the bad guys can do is steal the ideas or the weapons of the good guys. The only ways that the good guys can lose to the bad guys are by helping the bad guys or by giving in to them. Otherwise, the bad guys have no chance.

That is why the United States—the freest nation—became the strongest nation.

If we good guys work to be strong, and if we refuse to give any assistance or sanction to the bad guys, then the bad guys will never be able to keep up with us. If they try to fight us, they will get shot. If they try to match our strength in weapons, they will starve.

That is how we beat the Soviet Union.

The governmental policies I proposed above would starve the bad guys. Most of them would not have the money to buy even an old revolver.

Here is what government could do to allow the good guys—the productive guys, the guys who work for a living—to get even stronger.

I propose a large property and income tax credit—perhaps 25% or 50%—for citizens who own advanced weapons and have completed training, at each citizen’s own expense, in the responsible use of these weapons. I also propose a property and income tax credit for citizens who become trained (at their own expense), concealed carry, auxiliary security officers.

The tax-credit approach is a just approach, because the recipients would be lessening the government’s cost of protecting their rights. And this approach would provide incentive to the most productive among us, not to the criminals who live off others, to possess firearms.

I also think there should be severe penalties for negligently letting one’s weapons fall into criminal hands. And Attorneys General should not be exempt from such penalties.

Offering such tax credits would require screening, licensing, and some kind of registering of firearms, all with involvement by government. I know that many advocates for gun rights object to such involvement by government. But it is proper for government to protect against the use of force or the threat of force. Indeed, that function is the only proper function of government. I think there are ways to protect against improper use of information by government. For instance, screening, licensing, and registering could be done by private organizations authorized at local levels of government, so that sensitive information never gets into federal databases. Moreover, it could be stipulated that all standards for licensing be no stricter than the standards set for soldiers and police officers, and that the standards include no considerations regarding a citizen’s political, religious, or philosophical ideas.

The best protection, however, is safety in numbers. If tens of millions of citizens are on a list of owners of advanced firearms, what harm could come to someone on such a large list? The only people who would need worry would be the people not on the list. It is true that government could try to tax owners of firearm; but if the government were already offering tax credits, it would take a great deal of political change to shift from tax credits to taxes.

In summary, what government can do regarding firearms is set good people freer to grow wealthier and stronger, and cut off the welfare state’s approval and funding of criminals. The good people will acquire much more firepower, and the criminals will end up with much less. Criminals will either fight and get shot by the good guys, or they will starve. Or some of them might even surprise us and turn good.

Most importantly, good individuals will be free and safe.

5 thoughts on “What Government Should Do About Crime and About Ownership of Guns by Private Citizens

  1. Great post. Most of the issues related to violence in our society will go away if we become an a free, objective, rational society.

    I do find the issue of gun ownership an interesting subject though, and one thing that seems to always be missing from every discussion on this subject is where the right to own a firearm actually comes from and what exactly it entails. I believe that it comes from one’s right to self-defense. But this right to self-defense is limited to defending your life in the face of an immediate physical threat. i.e. a threat that you must dispatch of on your own right at that moment. Anything else should be left to the police or military. If this logic is correct then I do not see how we can therefore conclude that we should be able to own weapons equal to that of the police and the military. Nor do I see that one could logically conclude that a gun designed to kill a target 300 yards away is necessary for self-defense (based on the definition above). Could one conclude that there are limits to what types of weapons are protected under the right defend your life?

    Also, what about guns and other deadly weapons that are owned, not for self-defense at all but for other reasons such as hunting or sport shooting? I do not believe that one can necessarily treat them as protected under one’s right to self-defense (since they are not owned for that purpose) but I do believe that people should absolutely be able to own and use them for their intended purpose. Should they therefore be treated no differently than a pair of hunting boots or a fishing pole?

    Am I completely over-thinking this?

    Note that I am by no means anti-gun, nor am I trying to argue a specific point, I am merely trying to clarify my own understanding of the subject.

  2. John, your questions regarding the role of police and military are good. My answer is based on the principle, articulated by John Adams, of “government of laws and not of men.”

    A well-known aspect of this principle is that government acts according to objective rules, not subjective decisions by men who happen to be in office at a particular time.

    In my judgment, there is another aspect of this principle: Government does not consist of a specific group of citizens distinct from the group of citizens not in government. That is, government is not a group of special citizens; rather, government is a special form of organization of all citizens.

    True, some citizens are elected officials. But all citizens can vote. Voting is an official act of government. As has been said–by whom, I don’t know–the Constitution identifies not merely three branches of government, but rather five: the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the States, and the Electorate. There are checks and balances on all these five branches. And all citizens are in that fifth branch.

    Similarly, a juror conducts official government business when he sits on a jury, even though he is not an elected official. A juror performs an act of government: he decides whether another citizen will be put in prison, or he decides who is the owner of some private property.

    Government should not say, “These special citizens are the ones allowed to use force.” Rather, government should define the role of each citizen in the use of force. Of course, different citizens have different roles depending on their objectively-defined office, but every citizen has a role.

    The Army, the Navy, and the Marines are branches of our military. I think there should be another branch, larger than all the rest: the private citizenry trained in the use of firearms.

    Similarly, I think the largest part of the police force should be the private citizenry trained to carry a concealed weapon.

    This mistaken idea, that government consists of a special group of people with special rights, is similar to another mistaken idea: that ‘the press’ consists of a special group of people with special rights. Many professional journalists believe that freedom of the press applies only to them, and that they therefore have the right to do things–such as protect sources of information–that other citizens don’t have the right to do. In fact, however, freedom of the press is a right of every citizen; it is the right of every citizen to print his own words. Professional journalists deserve no special rights or special exemptions from the law; rather, every citizen has the right of the freedom of his press.

    Similarly, freedom of speech is the right of every citizen–not only professional speakers–to speak publicly.

    A similar mistaken idea is the notion that an economy consists of some people who are producers and some other people who are consumers. But of course, in a rational society, an individual can be a consumer only to the extent that he is a producer.

    Just as an economy or a market is a certain form of organization in which all citizens can participate, so government is another, very different form of organization in which all citizens do participate.

  3. If only the Federal and State governments
    enforce the “zillions” of gun laws on the books
    then we would not need this on going debate.

    Crooks and the people who have mental problems
    will always find ways to kill people.
    how about those movies that show the gangsters
    using baseball bats? knives? rocks? etc.

    Mark my words, there is not ONE GUN LAW that will
    prevent murders in schools or elsewhere.

    I will eat your (cotton) shirt, without the buttons, if
    Obama stops that kind of violence.

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