Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Your right to bear arms ends at my property line.

This blog doesn’t take second place to anyone when it comes to defending the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I go further. I argue that the right to self-defense precedes the Constitution and no Constitution can strip citizens of their natural rights. Even if the Second Amendment were abolished, the right to keep and bear arms is not legitimately subject to state restriction.

But we must remember that all rights exist within the context of property. That means that one may surrender some rights voluntarily when one enters the property of other people.

My First Amendment right to free speech gives me no claim on your property. You are not required to provide me a podium, a microphone, a printing press, or even a spot to stand and proclaim my views. I have the right to use my own resources, and those that are freely made available by others, but I can not have the right to the property of others.

My freedom of religion doesn’t mean you have to give me a ride to the church of my choice. My rights exist within the framework of my property. Your obligation is to leave me alone, but not to provide me with the property, or resources, that I need, even if I need them to exercise some right I have.

My rights cannot create any unwanted claim on you. It merely requires you to NOT use force or fraud against me or my property.

This is true with the right to keep and bear arms as well. I have no right to go into your home and take your guns merely because they cause me discomfort. If you threaten me that may be a different matter. If you attack me, it is most clearly a different matter. But, if you are minding your own business, on your own property, then my disarming you is a violation of your rights.

What is equally obvious is that if you are on my property then I have every right to make requirements for admission. I may required you to leave your weapon at home. I am under no obligation to grant you entrance except on terms that suit me. And if you don’t like the terms you are free to go elsewhere. I can’t force you to enter on my terms and you can’t force me to admit you on your terms. Mutual agreement is how it works.

Some people get baffled when the private property is a business. One reason for this is that socialistically inclined politicians have tended to treat private businesses as if they were public property. For instance, the no smoking laws regulate smoking in public, but always defines public space as including private property.

Malls, offices, restaurants, etc., simply are NOT public property. They are open to members of the public on terms and conditions set by the property owner. And this applies to firearms and cigarettes both.

Just as a private business has the right to ban smoking on their property, or not, it also has the right to ban firearms on its property, or not. Politicians, however, have NO rights in the matter. They don’t own the property. They can’t rightfully forbid smoking anymore than they can forbid firearms -- not when it comes to private property.

Conversely they are not empowered to mandate smoking or to mandate firearms either.

When antismoking legislation was being pushed, mainly by Democrats, Republicans were rightfully screaming about the violation of property rights involved in such a ban. Of course, when it comes to principles the Republicans are, shall we say, very flexible.

In Florida they recently stripped companies of the right to restrict what happens in their own parking lots. A parking lot is private property. That is clear since entry is often restricted to customers, or employees only, or to those who pay a fee, for instance.

But Republicans in Florida passed a law saying that the legislature, not the property owner, may determine whether or not a person can park their car with a firearm inside it, in those private lots. Some employers allowed it and some didn’t.

Republican state senator Durell Peaden was one who seemed upset when he heard that a loophole in the law was allowing Disney World to forbid employees from bringing weapons into their private parking lot.

The new Florida law makes it a crime to exercise one’s rights of control over one’s own parking lot, when it comes to firearms. No employer may forbid customers, or employees, from using the lot and having a firearm in their car.

When it comes to smoking I am vehemently antismoking, but I don’t want public smoking bans effecting private property. It’s not my property, it’s not my business. Similarly, I don’t want the state ordering property owners to admit firearms to private property when said owners don’t wish to do so. Both are a violation of the fundamental right to property.

If it is socialistic for the Left to ban smoking on private property, then this Republican legislation is just as socialistic. Both violate property rights, and do so in exactly the same manner. Both apply the same principle just in different ways.

The difference between the Left and the Right is not one of principles. They hold exactly the same principles. The only difference is over which issues they are willing to club you over the head. The Democrats want to club you to prevent you from allowing smoking on your property. Republicans want to club you to force you to allow guns on your property.

The reasons are immaterial. The principles are identical. The one big difference is that Democrats don’t pretend to support private property rights; to them everything is public and subject to control. The Republicans, however, pretend they support property rights. Both are statists, but Republicans are hypocritical statists to boot. That just means the Democrats are more honest about their bad intentions while the Republicans lie about theirs.

That is one reason we need a libertarian alternative, and one reason why it is such a tragedy that no such alternative exists any longer.

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