This past weekend, 100,000 or so women visited Washington, D.C., to
push for new gun-control laws, as part of the “Million Mom March.”
I understand their desire to make the world safer for their children.
But, unfortunately, their proposals would make their children — and
themselves — less safe.
There already are 20,000 federal gun laws and regulations on the
books. If those laws haven’t made America safe by now, why should we
think 20,001 laws will suffice?
We shouldn’t. Instead, we need to recognize that those 20,000 laws
are a principal cause of the current violence in society. They have made
our children and all innocent adults much less safe — by disarming
innocent citizens and encouraging armed criminals to take advantage of
So it’s time to face reality and repeal these laws — all of them.
By definition, law-breakers don’t obey laws. Hardened criminals do
whatever is necessary to evade identification and arrest. So they don’t
buy guns that can be traced; they buy them in the underworld or simply
Thus the gun-control laws don’t apply to criminals or stop gun
violence. They simply make it much harder for innocent people to defend
themselves — encouraging criminals to take advantage of us.
In other words, gun-control laws make the world safer for criminals
and less safe for you.
Stripping away your safety
Let’s take a brief look at how the various kinds of gun-control laws
make you more vulnerable.
Waiting periods: A waiting period means that a woman being
stalked will have to remain defenseless for a few extra days. Will her
stalker refrain from assaulting her until the waiting period is over?
Safety locks: Although safety locks might prevent a child from
accidentally firing a gun, they also can slow you down when you need a
gun in a hurry to defend yourself. Imagine a woman attacked by a rapist
in a parking lot. Will she be grateful for the time it takes to unlock
her gun? And, of course, if her adversary is carrying a gun, it won’t
have a safety lock.
Registration of handguns: What would this achieve? Nothing
positive. Evildoers won’t register their guns; only law-abiding citizens
will. And once your gun is registered, you’ll have to be afraid that
some future president whose heart isn’t pure will use that registration
to confiscate your only means of defense against armed criminals.
Licensing of guns or gun-owners: Since criminals won’t acquire
them, gun licenses won’t help find the perpetrator of a violent crime.
They are simply a gratuitous invasion of your privacy and that of other
Background checks for purchasers: No one wanted by law
enforcement agencies is going to buy a gun in a way that requires a
background check. He’ll get his gun from another criminal or steal it.
So the only achievement of a background check is your inconvenience.
But don’t background checks catch people with criminal records?
If they’re wanted by the police, they’re certainly not going to
undergo background checks. If they are ex-convicts who have paid their
debt to society, they have the right to defend themselves from predators
– just as you or I do. Or should their criminal records also prohibit
them from buying food or clothing?
Require guns to be locked up: If the law requires guns to be
kept out of reach of children, how will the law be enforced? Will the
police invade your house periodically to verify that your guns are in
safe places? If not, what’s the point of the law? If yes, this is
another gratuitous invasion of your privacy.
Ban some types of guns: At first glance it might seem
reasonable to ban such things as assault weapons or mortars. After all, you don’t need such a weapon.
But some people do.
During most riots, the police have been outnumbered and have
intentionally stayed clear of gangs that were looting and vandalizing.
Suppose your life savings are invested in a store the gangs are about to
loot. And suppose you have little or no insurance because your store is
in a poor and dangerous section of town. How will you defend the store
against the looters? With a knife? With a handgun against a dozen
attackers? Or with an assault weapon?
If you prevent innocent citizens from acquiring assault weapons,
criminal gangs will still have them — even if they have to smuggle them
into America from thousands of miles away. So why pass laws that disarm
only the innocent?
You might be able to imagine the perfect law that allows just the
right people to own just the right types of guns, while prohibiting
other people from owning inappropriate firearms. But remember, you’re
only imagining such a law; it will never be a reality. Once the issue is
turned over to the politicians, it will be decided by whoever has the
most political influence — and that will never be you or I.
A sane crime policy
The only effective crime policy is to have no laws regulating the
ownership of guns, but to prosecute anyone who intrudes on the person or
property of another — with or without a gun.
You really have only two choices. Either:
Politicians will decide what you can own — and they will never
stop their prohibitions at the point you believe best.
Or people will decide for themselves what they can own.
Any apparent middle ground between the two actually grants the
politicians the power to choose for you.
And all such choices will be made by whoever has the most political
influence. So attempts to limit gun ownership will do more to promote
the political interests of well-connected people than to reduce crime.
A safe society
Disarmed citizens encourage crime and violence.
Armed citizens encourage criminals to find a safer line of work.
The National Rifle Association and Republican politicians have
recently urged that today’s 20,000 gun-control laws be enforced — no
matter how bad those laws.
Libertarians easily see the folly in this. Libertarians know that
those laws are, at best, useless, and, at worst, highly dangerous.
Libertarians want all the counter-productive gun laws to be repealed
This year there will be 2,000 Libertarians running for federal,
state, and local offices — all the way from president of the United
States to municipal offices. All of them support your right to defend
yourself — without qualification.
They provide the one avenue by which you can register your
unqualified disapproval for today’s gun-control climate.
For safety’s sake, we must repeal all the gun laws.
Harry Browne is running for president as a Libertarian. More of
his articles are available at