Sensible Gun Regulations and Disarming the Police

8 months ago

In my essay Let's Divide Law-Enforcement: Natural Law vs. Positive Law, I made the case that law-enforcement should be divided into two separate parts—a security force linked to insurance for the protection of persons and possessions against aggression and theft and a police force for the enforcement of rules and regulations enacted by the community. This would mean that the people who enforce traffic laws, drug laws, and gun laws would be entirely separate and detached from the people who respond to burglaries, domestic violence, and such. I also suggested that laws should be made directly democratically and that both divisions of law-enforcement should be subject to, and accountable to, public courts, tribunals, or judges. I personally prefer a system of trial by jury, following the recommendation of Lysander Spooner. (Cf. Lysander Spooner, An Essay on the Trial by Jury)

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Reforming law-enforcement along these lines would set us up to eventually be able to disarm police like they have in England, New Zealand, Norway, and elsewhere. The security guards who protect persons and possessions need to be armed, since they respond to violent crime. However, police officers that enforce arbitrary rules and regulations, rather than responding to violent crimes, would not need to be armed most of the time. If the police need firearms to raid some building in order to enforce certain community rules, they could be given firearms to do that, but the police that patrol the interstate would not need to carry. I don't think that it would be wise to immediately disarm police. You would have to wait until public anti-cop sentiments change. Within a decade or so, public sentiments would change as a result of these reforms in law-enforcement and people would generally like police officers, so the police would be relatively safe doing traffic stops and crowd control without carrying firearms.

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In order to disarm police, I think we would also need to implement sensible rules for gun-ownership. Everyone should be allowed to own a gun, theoretically. However, there should be certain requirements that one must meet. In order to get a license to operate a motor vehicle, you have to pass two tests, a written test to prove that you know the relevant laws related to operating a motor vehicle and a driving test to prove that you are capable of safely operating a motor vehicle. There should be similar requirements for gun licenses. Just as there are drivers education courses, there should be gun education courses that teach you when it is legal to use a firearm and when it is not. These courses should also teach you how to safely handle and fire a firearm, as well as emphasizing safe storage and maintenance practices. It might be desirable for such classes to be mandatory in order to get a gun license. Even if the formal classes aren't mandatory, it should be mandatory to take both a written and a shooting range test in order to get a license. If you don't know when it is legal to shoot, you shouldn't be allowed to have a gun. If you can't control your firearm and hit your target, you should not be allowed to fire it. It might also be a good idea to register guns like they do with automobiles.

When thinking about gun regulation, suicide is a big issue that we should focus on. It is the second most common cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34 in America. It is within the top ten causes of death for people of all ages. And 60% of gun-related deaths are suicides. More than half of all suicides are carried out with a firearm. Most suicides are entirely preventable and suicide rates drop when firearms are harder to acquire. And most people who attempt suicide and fail do not attempt it again, indicating that most gun suicide victims were likely going through crises that could be worked out with counseling or other tactics. These are victims that could have easily went on to live happy lives. Requiring counseling and mental health evaluations for people seeking a gun license would help prevent suicides. It might also help prevent mass shootings and gun violence. It would also be desirable to prohibit people with a history of violent crime from getting a gun license, especially if their crimes involved gun violence.

Having sensible gun regulations is a prerequisite for disarming police. And disarming the police is a prerequisite for having a safe and libertarian social order. That being said, everyone that wants a gun license should be able to have one, provided that they know the law, obey it, and can safely operate a firearm. In order to buy firearms and ammunition, you would have to show your license, like when purchasing liquor.

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Separating the police into a security force and a police force seems like a great idea.

As for guns - it seems sensible to have people learn how to properly use, clean, and store it. I know how seriously myself and other gun owners I know take gun safety - it is of the utmost importance.

This post reminded me of a study I read a while back, done by people at Harvard. (And yes, I actually read the study, not just someone else's interpretation of the study). The purpose of the study was to answer the question Does more guns result in more violence? After analyzing many stats, their answer to this question was a resounding "no". Availability of guns did not result in more violence. When guns weren't available, people just used a different weapon.

The purpose of the study wasn't to answer the question do more guns result in less violence? However, they did have quite a bit of language in there that suggests those results.

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Just for clarity, I am not advocating fewer guns. I am advocating fewer guns in the hands of police though. And fewer guns in the hands of people who don't know how to safely and appropriately use them. The key isn't to get fewer people to own guns per se, but to get the people who do to be better trained.

As for the study, I have read studies that suggested the opposite is the case. Although, I've always thought that the apparent correlation stems from a multitude of factors (lack of training requirements, etc.), so the findings are limited. I'd be interested in seeing the particular study, if you happen to have a link. The findings that you described are more like what I would expect if there was a way to control for variables.

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I'll try to find it for you tonight or tomorrow.

Rule by force is the underlying disease, who and how are symptoms.

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Communities will have to have rules. Under anarchism, those rules will be reached by consensus and determined by the community. If a community makes rules, then those rules will have to be enforced somehow. Even at the most basic level, if the community agrees on a set of property relations (communistic, usufructuary, or otherwise), they will have to use force to enforce those rules. I think these are the kinds of sensible rules that communities would want and might enact if decisions were made through deliberative or direct democracy.

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That is fine, but don't call it anarchy.
Enforcing rules is the antithesis of freedom, and therefore precluded from being anarchy.

I think consensus on deportment will be reached by the withdrawal of associations.
Once your behavior results in the inability to feed and clothe yourself in the consumerism paradigm you have committed suicide.

Any one you disagree with will not be welcome to your store of labor.
You can extend that to however many degrees of separation that you can convince folks to support.

I hope you are not calling for an extension of the police state.

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“Anarchism is order without violence.” Social order entails rules. At a very minimum, there will be a rule that says you cannot go around randomly slitting peoples’ throats. At the same time, anarchism requires the enforcement of rules. There must be some way of keeping psychopaths from slitting peoples’ throats or restraining them if they do. Anarchism does not mean “no rules.” It means “no rulers.” There will be rules that say you cannot burn down your neighbor’s house, or rape your neighbor, or murder your neighbor. And an anarchist society would enforce such rules. If you rape someone, someone will hold you accountable. There would be a system of law and order. The enforcement of rules is not the antithesis of freedom but the prerequisite of freedom. There must be the law of equal liberty that says you are free to do what you please as long as you do not impede the equal liberty of others to do as they please. And insofar as people work together to prevent individuals from imposing on the equal liberty of others, they are enforcing a rule. At a very minimum, an anarchist society will have a rule that you are not allowed to restrict the equal liberties of others, and they will have some mechanism for enforcing that rule. Any form of “anarchy” that does not entail such enforcement of rules is simply chaos and not true anarchy in my estimation. So, if my anarchism doesn’t constitute “anarchism” by your definition, so be it, but my anarchism entails rules and the enforcement of those rules.

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Ok, let me clarify a little.

Of course those that are violent to others will not be tolerated.
The very essence of anarchy is the willingness to do what it takes to live free of coercive violence.

But to turn around and tell me clean my yard, or else, is a horse of a different color.

Anarchy is order, and in such a case I'd expect to reach affinity with my neighbors in a positive manner, and to not get swatted by 'approved' thugs.

How do you propose to get me to keep my yard tended?
Do I further need to get a haircut, and real job, in your non-aggressive utopia?

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But stopping direct violence (self-defense) isn’t the only thing that is necessary. That is not the only sort of rule required. For instance, the people in the community are going to have to come to some sort of consensus on the question of property. They have to have some system of property, whether communistic, usufructuary, fee-simple, Georgist, capitalistic, or whatever. The community have to set some basic rules governing property relations, otherwise there will be constant conflict. And those rules regarding property will have to be enforced somehow. And there will have to be some sort of arbitration or adjudication too. Suppose there are three neighbors: person x believes in AnCap private property, person y believes in usufructuary property, and person z believes in no property whatsoever. Person x thinks he can punch people if they walk through his yard, person y thinks he should be able to take over ownership of x’s garage because he has homesteaded it for a few days while x was away on vacation, and person z likes to break into x and y’s houses and piss in their refrigerators because he thinks he should be able to do whatever the hell he wants. The community will have to deliberate and arbitrate and set rules and pass a judgement on who is right and who is wrong and they’ll have to enforce the rule or decision that they make. The community will need rules for a variety of things. People will have to get together and make decisions through face-to-face democracy, preferably through consensus processes, and rules will have to be made. The rules with also have to be enforced.

A key point to keep in mind is that the people who are going to have the rules enforced upon them will also have been involved in the decision-making process directly. If you have consensus democracy and you break the agreed upon rules, then you are basically violating a contract. And the enforcement of a contract is legitimate. For instance, if you have a contract to pay someone $30 for an hour of labor, that person does the labor, and then you refuse to pay, it would be totally legitimate for them to come after you in order to enforce the contract.

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Ok, I'm with you, if you agree to the rules you should abide by them.

However we have to get from there to there.
What comes to mind to me when you start talking about adjudication and enforcement is what we have today.
My interpretation of what you have said seems hierarchical, authoritarian, and centralized, and therefore contrary to my definition of anarchy, and the essence of the status quo.

To use your examples, person x is within his rights, though he should provide signs as a warning to stay out of his yard.
Persons y, and z, have clearly aggressed against their victims and surrendered their right to not be aggressed against.

What really dings my bell is the centralization and institutionalizing of authority.
To go back to your examples, I would support person x, while I would join the posse to eject persons y and z.

Were this to happen in my utopia it would be handled by the parties to the act, and potentially their neighbors if more help was needed, without any further institutionalized assistance.
The bare minimum is that you provide for your own security, presumably by cultivating a good reputation among your neighbors, and that you handle your problems internally to that group.

The status quo merely institutionalizes slavery.
Do what you are told or be taken away, regardless of whether you have consented or not.