Earlier this week I got into a very interesting conversation with another libertarian regarding the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. I’ll not reprint the entire conversation here but in summary I stated that, although holding some reservations, in general support the bill. My opponent holds a completely different opinion believing that it’s not for Congress to pass laws based on their interpretation of the Constitution and determining interpretations of the Constitution lies solely with the Supreme Court. Basically he believes Congress is overstepping its Constitutionally authorized powers by presenting this bill.
How can two libertarians come to completely different stances regarding this one bill? Simple, there are different categories of libertarians. My opponent is a strict constitutionalist while I am a voluntaryist. While both categories follow the non-aggression principle which constructs the foundation of libertarian philosophy and both categories believe in the rule of law there is a difference in belief of what constitutes aggression and what qualifies as law.
A strict constitutionalist does not believe a state operating under a country’s constitution is committing aggression as the constitution is considered a socially agreed upon document that those living within a country either must agree to or leave. Voluntaryists on the other hand believe that a state is necessarily violence as the definition of state is an entity that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a geographic area. Likewise a state can only be maintained through taxation which constitutes an act of agression against those being taxed.
Rest assured that I haven not wasted your time explaining the difference between the two as it is important knowledge to have in hand in order to understand the view I’m about to present regarding this bill.
As I stated in the beginning of this post I support the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act even though I hold some reservations about granting more power to the federal government. My support for this bill stems from my belief in absolute property rights which extents from my belief in the absolute right of self-ownership. There are only two legitimate means of obtaining property; homesteading and mutually agree to terms of trade between a prospective buyer and a person who either homesteaded the property or obtained it through a mutually agree upon trade. The act of homesteading necessarily requires that you mix your labor with the property (in other words make some kind of improvement to the property) in order to claim it as your own.
Unfortunately absolute property rights can not exist under a state. This fact can be demonstrated through two points; all land is claimed by the state as its own and the state maintains the power of eminent domain over all property within its geographic area. Being a state does not obtain its property through either of the two legitimate means of property attainment the state can not be said to legitimately own any property. What the state does have, however, is an incredible capacity for violence which its willing use in order to maintain its claim of property ownership.
Thus we have a conundrum, while the state should not be able to make rules regarding the actions of people on unowned property they do so through the threat and use of violence. Violence is an incredible tool for maintaining illegitimate claims and thus it’s often much easier to work within the state’s rules than to violate them. Thus it is in the best interests of those living under the state to acquire any liberties they can get away with. If acquiring these liberties can be done by obtaining permission from the state through a state approved legislative process then it might as well be used. A tool is a tool after all.
So we stand at a crossroad. In one direction the state claims the right to create arbitrary rules dictating the actions of those living within its borders. In the other direction we have the fact that the state has no legitimate claim to the property within its borders and thus has no legitimate grounds for dictating the actions of those living within. Meanwhile many of us wish to maintain our right to self-defense wherever we travel within the borders of the state (a right derived from self-ownership). I believe those of us wishing to maintain our right to self-defense should travel the road supporting the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.
The state has no right to demand that we travel through unowned property disarmed. If the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is passed it will remove an arbitrary restriction placed upon the people in the United States. That is to say we will gain an additional liberty and remove one more rule that is enforced through violence. Likewise this bill will maintain the rights of legitimate property owners as nowhere within the bill’s text is there a decree that private property owners must allow armed individuals onto their property.
Albeit I usually do not support the federal government granting itself additional powers over the individual states I still support this law overall as it grants an additional liberty to those living in the United States. I still find the claims of my opponent dubious as the Bill of Rights clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Most libertarians in the strict constitutionalist camp seem to agree that this bill is an overall good thing but I understand the view of those who oppose it on the grounds that any additional powers claimed by the federal government are generally dangerous.