Friday, February 16, 2018

Mass Killings and the Law

By Victor J.Ward

I was talking with someone about the Florida school shooting. My friend is a reasonable enough fellow, but he, too, had begun to drink the Kool Aid.

“If we had gun control, this would, at the very least, slow down the number of mass shootings.”

You know, he is right about that.

First, before I go too far, I should say this:
Why is my freedom and liberty determined by some crazy nut job? My freedom should be determined by me and me alone. If I do something to endanger that freedom, so be it. Otherwise, leave me the heck alone.

But, Statists don’t care about freedom, so the liberty/freedom argument is unpersuasive. We all know that Statists want to control us in their misguided attempt to create hell on earth and call it heaven.

The fact is, however, that if all guns were banned, and all gun manufacturers were banned, we would have less school shootings. Someone could argue that a want-to-be murderer would still find a way to get a gun. Sure, but stopping the manufacture of all guns would force said manufacture of guns to the Black Market, and getting things from the Black Market takes longer, and it is conceivable that the number of school shootings would go down.

That does not mean that the number of students or people killed by rogue actors would go down at all.

The country of Kenya has had a few arsons at school dormitories. One fire killed about 60 students in 2000 or 2001.

What about Timothy McVeigh? He didn’t shoot anybody, yet his body count was over 150.

What about September 11? It doesn’t matter that it was a “terrorist attack.” The bottom line is that a few individuals wanted to kill a whole lot of people, and they did it without firing a shot.

Gun laws have the same problems that all laws have: First problem: They don’t address the heart/mind/character of the individual. No law can do that.

Second problem: The legislature is going to need to define what a “gun” or “rifle” is, and as soon as they pass a bill to stop X, the free market will create X prime. A similar problem is that it is impossible to completely eliminate guns for a gun is nothing but several individual pieces arranged in a certain way. Standing alone, those pieces do not have lethal properties, so there is no need to make them illegal. If a gun requires 100 individually innocent pieces, a person can obviously possess these 100 pieces, and then, at a later date, put the pieces together. There is simply nothing that the government can do.

Third problem: The third problem is the worst, but not many people think about it. The problem is unseen, but it will quickly remove its cloak if the government actually tries to make gun or rifle ownership illegal. Right now, all guns are not banned. So, if a deranged maniac wants to kill someone, they can get a rifle and start shooting. If all guns were banned, the maniac would find another weapon of choice and start killing that way. See the above-referenced McVeigh massacre or Kenya massacres or Boko Haran massacres accomplished with explosives.

There is no reason to believe that more lives would be saved just because the murderer didn’t use a rifle. Granted, a knife may limit the number of kills, although there have been plenty of mass killings with nothing but a sharp edge. But it is also true that arson or a pipe bomb has the opportunity to kill many more people than a rifle. Just check the historical record.

Right now, deranged people are not really using their creativity. They stick with the unimaginative way of the gun. Let’s keep it like that. I believe, in the long run, it may actually go to save lives. If the government gets involved in a misguided attempt to help, the government’s ban on guns will do nothing but fuel the creativity of the mentally unstable and of the morally infirm. 

Victor J. Ward  first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable. He holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and an MBA from Santa Clara University.


  1. Very insightful thanks for sharing. The 'run people over with a truck' method seems to be gaining popularity in Europe...I'm also reminded of that German pilot who crashed the commercial airliner a few years ago. Legislating firearms certainly doesn't address the core problem.

  2. I think liability in a PPS for manufacturers and sellers of things reasonably foreseeable to be used to kill is the right tactic. Then, the “background” checks will be done in the foreground and not by incompetent and evil Uncle Sam.

    1. I’m not sure if you are serious? You think in a PPS manufacturing companies and sellers would/should be held liable?
      I think I am just misunderstanding.

    2. I don't think you can justify such liability for multiple-use objects. Firearms can be used for defensive and sporting purposes, as well as for violent crimes. How can one determine that a violent use is "reasonably foreseeable"? A better locus of liability might be the property owner for failure to protect his visitors, but even there I don't see why he should have that obligation unless he assumes it voluntarily. If he doesn't, then people may not want to come onto his property, or may only want to come armed, if he lets them.

    3. I am being serious, but also thinking out loud.

      PPS: essentially hard borders, right. Hard, unless you have a “pass”. The pass will probably be admininstered by an insurance/protection agency. The “loophole” in that system is mental illness and a small, deadly object in the hand of that type of person. The insurance agency would most likely contract back to sellers and manufacturers of small deadly objects that they have some assurance the customers of those entities are not using that for nefarious purposes.

      Otherwise the “hard” borders come into play, where the insurance company then has to insure that they have it covered. This is just a spreading of risk.

    4. I don't see why an insurance company will be administering passes; why not the private property owners?

      Would car manufacturers have liability for deaths caused by negligent drivers? Knife manufacturers for stabbings? Detergent manufacturers for child poisonings?

    5. In a PPS, I’m sure some will directly do this. What I am suggesting is this is one option amongst many.

      By the way, apparently closed this line of thinking:

      To me, that’s a vote in favor

    6. For there to be a just system of liability, I would argue that there needs to be direct causation. If the firearms manufacturer is to be liable -- which I think is unjust, for want of proximate cause -- why not the steel or aluminum producers who supplied the manufacturer, or the lead producers who supplied an input for the bullets?

      As to the federal government's statute, it doesn't make sense to oppose this principle just because the state takes this view. The state also outlaws murder and rape, and we can agree that these are wrongful acts.

    7. Is the PPS meant to be a “just” system, or is it meant to ensure that contracts and property rights can control exchange and movement? By stating that private property owners can’t require this type of contract for others to pass onto their property, are we really talking about the same type of PPS?

      And my point about the federal law was meant partly tongue in cheek, though I do think it is violative of the contract between the states that set-up in the first place.

    8. The PPS is not a "just" system at the property level. My book on this goes into much more detail and should be out in about 10 days.

    9. Thank you, Robert. Look forward to reading it.

    10. By "just" I mean justifiable through cogent and consistent reasoning. I would assume a PPS satisfies that criterion. And I wasn't saying that contracts cannot be structured the way you suggested, but not everything may be dealt with in advance by explicit contracts, and thus other principles (custom) may need to fill in the gaps.

      That said, I too look forward to reading Robert's book to better understand what he means by a PPS.

  3. Thank God there was an armed police officer in the school. That never saw the shooter..... How strange! Maybe if they arm the teachers like they do in some Texas schools. The Big Pharma filled morons would move on to the next gun free zone. Maybe the could find a better use of their time not wanting to be shot by a teacher.

  4. And let us not forget these same douches would happily endorse state sanctioned violence to get their way.

  5. Government is an antiquated, barbaric concept that we no longer need. When policemen, firemen and nurses can expound on the differences between John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig von Mises we will achieve peace and prosperity. I hope the author does not sincerely believe Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in OKC; he was the Oswald of OKC. (and no, Oswald did not kill Kennedy for the truly brain washed among us.)

  6. Government is an antiquated, barbaric concept that we no longer need. When policemen, firemen and nurses can expound on the differences between John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig von Mises we will achieve peace and prosperity. I hope the author does not sincerely believe Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in OKC; he was the Oswald of OKC. (and no, Oswald did not kill Kennedy for the truly brain washed among us.)

  7. If we are going to go full totalitarian in the futile attempt to rid the world of mass shootings, gun possession should be mandatory. This would at least be a better deterrent than the completely unarmed population that some advocate. Those that go ahead with their rampage would then be deterred by massive return fire.

    A suicidal individual may be enticed by an armed populace, but suicide by mass shooting where only cops are armed may take longer but is just as likely.

    An armed populace will be less of a deterrent where the deeply disturbed, pharma-enhanced is shooting from a distance such as the recent Vegas shooting (even if the official story is accurate) or the Cleveland Elementary School shooting, but would still be far more effective in slowing and stoping the carnage than waiting for the cops to do something.

    Of course having everyone armed isn't going to to do much to stop bombings like Oklahoma and Boston, but when I see some jack-off driving down the sidewalk, running over pedestrians, I shoot the bastard, that's my policy.