Those Government Gun-Free Zonesby Jacob G. Hornberger
Dec. 18, 2012
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It's no big surprise. A gun massacre brings out the gun-control crowd, which loudly demands that gun control be imposed on the American people, as if that would have prevented the massacre in Connecticut.
It's really a shame to have to trot out the same arguments exposing the fallacies of statist thinking, but, alas, it must be done.
First, murderers don't and won't obey gun-control laws. If they don't comply with murder laws, they're not going to comply with gun-control laws.
The people who comply with gun-control laws are peaceful, law-abiding types who are now denied the right to defend themselves from the murderers. Why do peaceful, law-abiding people obey gun-control laws while murderers don't. Because the former don't want to be convicted felons, while the latter don't care.
After all, don't forget that it was illegal for the shooter in Connecticut to carry guns onto school property. No doubt much to the surprise of statists, he didn't say, "Golly, even though I want to murder all those children, I can't do it because it's illegal for me to carry my gun onto school property."
Second, gun-control laws won't eliminate guns from society, any more than drug laws have eliminated drugs from society. Given the millions of guns in existence, along with continued manufacture of guns all over the world, all that gun control would do is convert the business of owning guns into a black-market enterprise. That means gun gangs, gun cartels, robberies, muggings, and all the other things that come into existence with a black market. If you like the war on drugs, you'll love the war on guns.
Let's now address a more fundamental issue, one that statists can never consider given their inability to think outside the statist box in which they have been born and raised.
The Connecticut massacre took place in a public school or, to put it more accurately, in a government school. That's a place where parents are forced by law to send their children. If they don't send their children into this governmental system, they are arrested, charged, and incarcerated. They might even have their children taken away from them for "incompetence" or "abuse."
Sure, there are two alternatives for parents -- private schools and homeschooling. But for the vast majority of parents, those are not viable options. Private schools, which have to secure a license from the government to operate, are too expensive, especially for a vast number of families that also are required by law to pay school taxes even if they decline to send their children into the public-school system. Other parents do not feel competent to homeschool or are unable to do so for other reasons, such as the need to have two incomes.
So, that leaves a large segment of families being forced to send their children to these state institutions from the time they are six years old.
Along with the regimentation and indoctrination that comes with the government being in charge of children's education comes another distinguishing characteristic: These institutions are mandatory gun-free zones. That is, teachers and principals are prohibited by law from carrying a gun onto school property. I'd be willing to bet that there is a 99 percent compliance rate because most teachers and principals don't want to be convicted felons and they want to keep their jobs.
So, consider the situation: The state forces parents to send their children into state institutions in which there are already gun-control laws -- that is, laws that make it illegal for people to carry weapons onto the premises. The peaceful and law-abiding people obey the gun law. The murderer, knowing that everyone is defenseless, doesn't obey the gun law.
Now, obviously most parents aren't going to even question the horror in this. That's because public schooling is a part of their lives. They went to public schools. So did their friends. For them, public schools mean "freedom," even though they have a hard time explaining how it is that public (i.e., government) schooling is a core feature of communist and socialist countries like Cuba, North Korea, and China.
So, does that mean that the solution is to let public-school teachers and administrators carry guns to school? Not for us libertarians. We have no interest in telling the state how to run its schools. For us, public schooling is an inherently immoral and destructive institution. It should be dismantled completely, in favor of a total free market in education. See The Future of Freedom Foundation's book Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families by Sheldon Richman.
A free market in education would put families, not the state, in charge of their children's education. Some people would choose schools that are not gun-free zones. Others would choose schools that are. The same principle of freedom of choice would apply to a vast array of other things -- schools that are general in nature and others that specialize in things like music, religion, math, liberal arts, or science. Some parents would choose to have their children be educated without schools.
But the point is that in a free market, people are able to get what they want, as compared to having the state force it upon them and their children. As things stand now, most families have no effective choice at all -- the state forces them to send their children into a gun-free institutions where their children are defenseless against murderers.
As the gun-control debate gets ramped up once again, there's another thing to consider: the permanent culture of violence that the U.S. military empire and national-security state have brought to our nation. For decades, we have heard about how U.S. forces abroad have killed wedding parties, families, old people, and, yes, children. Oftentimes, there is the standard expression of regret by U.S. officials, but a callous mindset of conscious indifference to human life has, slowly but surely, been inculcated into the American people, at least with respect to Muslims and Arabs.
Consider, for example, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children whom the U.S. government killed with its 11 years of brutal sanctions against Iraq. When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked by "Sixty Minutes" whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were worth it, she responded that yes, they were indeed "worth it."
That mindset was really no different in the invasion of Iraq. When the bogus WMDs failed to materialize, U.S. officials said that their new primary objective was to bring "democracy" to Iraq. So, rather than exiting the country after failing to find those bogus WMDs, they stayed, killing countless more Iraqis. The mindset that justified the continued killing and mayhem was the same that undergirded the sanctions -- that any number of deaths of the Iraqi people was considered "worth it" -- worth the political goal of establishing "democracy" in the country.
How can that mindset of callous indifference toward the sanctity of human life not be transmitted to the American people, especially given the faith that so many Americans place in their federal officials?
For more on this, see my January 2011 article "The Banality of Evil," which was written in the wake of the Arizona shootings and which applies just as well today.
Finally, let us never forget the primary reason that gun ownership is so important. It is an essential prerequisite to a free society because it enables people to oppose the tyranny of their own government. History has shown that when the military and the police have a monopoly over the ownership of guns, freedom doesn't exist long in those societies. People must obey whatever edicts are issued by government officials and they must submit to whatever government officials do to them. As Judge Alex Kozinsky put it in his dissenting opinion in the case of Silveira vs. Lockyer, giving the government a monopoly over the ownership of guns is a mistake that people can make only once. It becomes too late to make it again because the deprivation of liberty becomes permanent given the inability of people to violently resist it. As our American ancestors understood so well, the right to keep and bear arms is the best insurance policy against tyranny.
This is what so Americans just cannot comprehend. Just today, in an editorial the Los Angeles Times extols China -- yes, that brutal communist regime in which the government has a monopoly on the ownership of guns -- for its gun-free society because Chinese children were able to survive a recent massacre in which the person used a knife, as compared to what happened in Connecticut, where no one survived the gun onslaught.
That editorial is amazing. For one thing, as I stated above, there is no way that the U.S. government could possible eradicate guns from society, as the Chinese tyrants have done, at least not without imposing the same type of horrible police state that the Chinese communist dictators have imposed on the Chinese people. More important, who wants to live under a brutal communist regime, one that is able to maintain itself in power precisely because people lack the means to violently overthrow it?
The Connecticut massacre is just one more sign of the aberrant welfare-warfare system that statists have foisted upon our land. The solution to the woes brought upon us by statism is not more statism. The solution is freedom, which is what libertarianism is all about, including the right to own guns, the right to educate one's children without state interference or control, and the right to live in a free, peaceful, and prosperous society rather than a warfare-state empire.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.