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Guns and libertarians

October 24th, 2002

Ken Parish presents a solid demolition of gun lobby lies, particularly those of John Lott in yesterday’s Oz. The claim that widespread ownership of deadly weapons is going to save lives is so silly that no-one without a strong prior prejudice could believe it, even without the glaring evidence of the US. The most common prejudice is that of ‘ordinary law-abiding gun owners’ who have no intention of killing anybody, and don’t see why they shouldn’t have a gun. Almost certainly, the Monash killer fell into this category until fairly recently.

Another possible prejudice is political/ideological. Jason Soon took the trouble to argue that gun control wasn’t inconsistent with his libertarian views, but most of those arguing against gun control (including John Lott) are ideological libertarians. Rather than fighting over the statistics, which are pretty clear-cut, I’d be interested to see some of these critics present a principled statement of a libertarian position (there’s obviously more than one) on gun ownership. In particular, does it extend to private armies, and to military weapons, that is, heavy weapons and not just firearms? This would seem to provide a defence against the state so feared by libertarians, whereas handguns just give citizens the means of killing each other.

Update: The two students killed in the Monash attack were Steven Chan and Xu Hui (William) Wu. We should think of their families along with all the others mourning loved ones in these dreadful times.

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