I’ve been reading the latest back-and-forth exchanges over gun rights and safety in the wake of the latest mass shooting hoopla brought to us by the perpetual news organizations (24-hour news channels and the Internet), and one fact stands out: Everyone manages to miss the mark in coming up with a trump card argument.
(note 1: the hoopla refers to the media circus and not the actual shooting. Suffice it to say the pain/loss/etc is real and those directly affected have my sympathy).
(note 2: a trump card has nothing to do with that pair of fucking clown shoes leading the GOP at the moment. Let’s not make that joke, like he is.)
The overriding argument comes down to property rights.
This argument applies whether we’re talking about guns, property, a toaster oven, a spatula, and so on. Because all of these things are, in fact, things. Quantifiable objects in some sense. Stuff.
And property, by its nature, is that which you have acquired by the use of your time and your skills. It’s something you’ve earned. Pieces of your life, converted to a solid form.
That brings us to a simple question: Do people have the right to own things?
For a libertarian, the answer is easy: YES!
From there, it really goes downhill. There are people that would say yes, but people should have (fill in the blank), because (excuse citing safety, morality, “common sense”).
At the other end is the collectivist, who espouses that no one owns anything. I’m guessing they either believe their own bullshit, or just vomit it out before curling up with their prized non-possessions.
Ultimately, if you’re not deluded and you’re not an absolutist libertarian, then you believe people have property rights, except…. So that leaves the next question: How do you enforce the list of prohibited items (whether it’s guns or drugs, raw milk or dildos)? Are you going to ask nicely and hope everyone complies? Are you going to pass laws and hand out fines? Or are you going to send in armed men with lots of guns to take out the person that won’t comply (that would be me) with your demand that they give up something that is theirs.
And yes, that means I believe that everyone has the natural right to own anything, with the exception being those who violate the rights of others (and therefore sacrifice a portion of their rights).
It comes down to what you believe freedom is. Is freedom, and the rights that define them, an absolute (with the only limitation being that you can’t directly violate the rights of another in exercising yours), or is freedom something that is meted out and determined by others who decide what rights you have, and therefore not freedom?