On Firearms and Freedom
Property rights. Usually we think of this when we see a court order to evict someone and destroy their house via eminent domain, or when someone else’s car is stolen and they are attempting to get it back, but almost noone I can think of adds this perspective to the debate over the carry and ownership of firearms.
Firearms are property, like any other, and the difficulty with not acknowledging them as such is not hard to see. They are dangerous. Their original purpose for most shooters (around these parts anyway) is to kill – albeit animals, not necessarily people, as is the case with the police or military, but to kill nonetheless. The emotions flare and the basic principle of ownership of property gets lost in ghost stories and paradoxes about ‘sporting purposes.’ The gun is designed to kill and destroy, and serves little other purpose.
This does not, however, eliminate or diminish its status as property. Anyone here has property rights to things that they purchase through mutual consent. I hesitate to say ‘legally,’ because in some states the very ownership of half of all things ‘firearms’ is severely criminalized (see: California, for details).
As property you have the right to own and use it as long as you do not infringe on another person’s liberties or life. That is the guts, and the purpose, of property rights – they are yours until you abuse them by harming another person.
Firearms then become the palladium of this right, as they have but one practical use, and it will either infringe on a right, or protect it. You could show it, or draw it and aim it and possibly even use it, to defend yourself, or to harm another, through theft, slavery (or more commonly, kidnapping) or murder. The latter, being obviously more visible than a crime never committed or the few stopped by firearms that make the spotlight, become the only visible and palpable ‘use’ of this form of property, and thus it is fiercely attacked.
The same could be said for speech, but few consider that ‘property.’ It’s easy to destroy a reputation by the misuse of speech, even to change the way the public acts, but again its ‘not property’ in the conventional sense.
If we considered these ‘dangerous weapons’ property as they rightly are, there would be much less debate over the issue. Property rights are inherently inviolate, unless their use violates the rights of another.