Blogs > Liberty and Power > "Right to Carry" and the "Tragedy of the Commons"

Sep 3, 2009 3:11 pm

"Right to Carry" and the "Tragedy of the Commons"

The controversy about carrying guns in public is not new. In 1967, however, the political alignments on this issue were completely different. Many conservatives (and others) objected when the Black Panthers insisted on exercising this right. In response, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act banning the carrying of guns in public.

Many defenders of liberty have felt the need to reflexively defend gun-toting citizens at these rallies. This is a mistake, or at least an incomplete response. A far more productive contribution to an otherwise impoverished debate is to emphasize privatization as a solution. We can only find a just and efficient resolution by treating this as a tragedy of the commons issue.

Both sides have a point but neither can ever be satisfied as long as thoroughfares, parks, and other venues for town halls or rallies continue to be government owned. Under private property, the issue becomes a relatively simple one: the owner decides who can carry guns. The problem (to the extent it is a problem) arises only when we take private property out of the equation. In the absence of privatization, the controversy will never end until one side or the other forces its will over the commons through the brute force of legislation.

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Tizziec - 9/13/2009

I am not a gun kind of person, I don't own anything more powerful than my busted Red Rider BB gun, but I understand the desire of other to own them as well as respect their rights under our laws. I have to say though, that the argument of guns for protectection seems to have little place in teh example of the Black Panthers. It is obvious from the image that their guns are not for protection, but for antimidation. They are not alone in this. I was in NYC a few years beck and saw National Guard troops in teh subway walking around with some pretty heavy arms in hand. Now I was told it was for the purpose of protection of myself and others, but it was again, opbvious it was an antimidation tactic for the most part. They were using antimidation and human fear to keep order.

As for the comaprrison of concealing a weapon to concealing a tampon? Way too simplistic. A weapon, if pulled out, will most likly be done so to instill anything from fear to death. My tampon, even if used, will instill nothing more than perhaps a gag or two from a weak stomach in a crowd. The right to bare arms, either concealed or otherwise, shoudl be more of a privelage sor the sane of our society. There is such a deep responsibility in such a right that it muct be clear that person both understands that responsibility and is able minded enough to also act with said responsibility.

If all the gun owners of America had balanced minds and emotions, people would fear the possible outcomes less, but the fact is, even moreso in today's world of extreme stress and higher rates of mental and emotional defect, that citizens have a right to be scared and a right to demamnd more thourough checks of those allowed to take part in the privelage of carrying a weapon. You need to not only have the intelligence to use one safely, but also the mindset to know when to use one and a background that proves your intent to use one legally and in good concience.

Aeon J. Skoble - 9/3/2009

Not sure that works. On the one end, on your body and in your body aren't the same thing - we have dress codes, hard-hat-only zones, etc. On the other end, even "in" doesn't work - we have club-members-only meetings, party-members-only functions, only-our-religion affairs, and so on. When you say that your concealed weapon is no different from your example of tampon use, you infer from the surely-true premise that a woman would be amazingly unlikely to display the tampon to the dubious conclusion that a criminal would be amazingly unlikely to display the gun. David's point is, I think, the better solution - if it's my property, I'll be in charge of whether to allow gun-carriers (or smokers, or people in ties, or anarchists, or whomever). If it's Bob's property, he will. Since I have no "right" to be on Bob's property, my bodily integrity isn't threatened by any of Bob's restrictions.

theBuckWheat - 9/3/2009

I believe that the right to own and control property is one of the unalienable rights. However, I also have a right to the integrity of my person and herein I would draw an important distinction that conservatives should be attuned to.

Does the right to control my own property extend to being able to post a blanket refusal for permission to enter for people of a certain race, or people who carry HIV? Can I deny entry to all females? Or just to trans-sexuals? We go to great lengths to prohibit such discrimination. We allow it on where the property owner can demonstrate a compelling need for such a policy and even then it must be as minimally discriminatory as possible.

People who carry concealed firearms under legal authority do so for defensive reasons. If I have something concealed upon my person, in the personal spaces upon my own body, what I have there is of no concern to anyone else. To allow otherwise is to allow the violation of my personal space for purposes by the property owner of verification.

Should we, for example, allow a property owner to forbid entry to females wearing tampons or panty liners? That would be absurd. Such items of female hygiene are only worn in a concealed manner for their own personal needs. Such a person would never consider the public display of those items, except under extraordinary circumstances.

My legally concealed weapon is absolutely no different in principle. The legal environment is such that it will only be displayed in public under exigent circumstances. Those circumstances are by definition life and death and would only follow the failure of security measures on the part of the property owner, a failure that puts his guests at risk of injury or death. On this particular point it must be given special consideration with respect to the property rights of others.