META: Not another flamewar (BUT RE: a bit of GUNS & a bit of (meta?) rhetoric

Mark Phillips (
Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:57:17 CDT

Thanks to Nadia and Tom!

Based on both ethico-political considerations and empirical evidence (e.g., Lott's study), it would seem not at all especially UNreasonable to advocate
(or at least be sort of neutrally sanguine toward) right-to-carry laws (both
concealed and unconcealed) and other hand gun possession laws. That is, it would seem reasonable (or at least not especially UNreasonable) to permit competent adults to acquire/obtain handguns and not only to possess them on there (domicilic) property(s), but, indeed, to carry them in their motor vehicle(s) and/or ON THEIR PERSON, if they so choose. But there are a few snags that should not be swept under the rug:

  1. How to determine "competency." Is one "COMPETENT", even as a
    (statistically, anyway) "normal," reasonably mentally/psychologically
    "healthy" adult (and what's the age of adulthood, by the way?), ONLY AFTER ONE HAS HAD AT LEAST A *MODICUM* OF PROPER FIREARMS (HANDLING) INSTRUCTION??
    Or can one just be a normal, healthy, etc. Joe or Flo from Kokomo, waltz right into a gunshop (or, better still, a gunSHOW) and "buy mysef one a them thar guns--I likes that purdy pearl-handled one raght thar!" As a
    (more-or-less) libertarian anarchist, I am very, very tempted to say that,
    sure, they can buy it, without first having training, etc--surely (at least intuitively for me) it would violate a basic (natural, whatever--the point is that it's fundamental and non-derivative) RIGHT of said person to forcibly interfere with their doing so. Yet I for one don't want un(der)trained dolts walking around with guns. So this IS a bit of a normative conundrum. Now, Mike (Lorrey, that is), don't start tap-dancing on my trachea (so to speak!!) just yet. I am more or less in agreement with your position (your arguments are usually reasonably cogent (at least) and well-stated), but I think Joe Dees's position and his specific proposals are also not at all unreasonable, which brings us to...

2a) Surely it is counterintuitive (or at least it is for me), that the clearly, obviously, rather unarguably-otherwise INCOMPETENT person should NOT be able to access (much less on-goingly possess/use) a handgun (or, for the most part, any other weapon, for that matter). But, then again, for anyone who has read even just a smattering of Tom Szasz and/or Pete Breggin, one must be very careful and cautious about the criteria and protocols for ascribing incompetency (the extreme paradigmatic horror is a Sacharov being labeled insane (or disturbed, whatever) by the State, the de facto Power Elite, or whomever. I mean, geez, many extropians and transhumanists (as well as many if not most randomly selected Joe or Jane Does) could plausibly
(or at least not especially implausibly) be "diagnosed" with SOME (mild or
otherwise) "disorder" out of the current DSM-IV!! (and this point, of course, touches on a tangent of the topic
of transhumanist "ultra-rationality" and "ultra-psychological health" etc., also discussed here recently). We need to be very cautious about bandying around the label "incompetent" or "mentally disturbed" (or if you PC-prefer, "psychologically challenged"), yet on the other hand the clearly psychotic, or even "borderline" psychotic (e.g., say, a paranoid schizophrenic), can and should be legally (i.e., rightfully) precluded from obtaining/possessing a deadly weapon. So this particular prong of Joe Dees's proposal, is, I think, reasonably sound at the level of principle, but will inevitably encounter the OCCASIONAL "gray" case in practice. Yet as a principle, it is reasonably sound.

2b) What about criminals? This has always been a (at least as yet) not-(quite)-completely/satisfactorily-resolved point in both more-or less libertarian philosophy(s) and not-exactly-libertarian philosophy(s). I mean, do we throw 'em onto a Tanahill labor-farm (say), or do we do the Randy Barnett restitution thing, or...or... (and, of course, there are many well-argued hybrids and variations (Rothbard's, Peter Ferrera's, John Hosper's, and, of course, I'm sure Tom Morrow and Max More have thought about this occasionally)) But sure it is intuitively reasonable to hold something along the following lines: criminals convicted of violence-with-a-(artifactual) weapon should be prohibited from obtaining/possessing such weapons until such time (IF EVER) as they are INDEPENDENTLY judged genuinely rehabilitated and now no longer having much
(if any) propensity/proclivity for violence. This new thread will probably
not quite satisfy Joe or Mike, but I sympathize with Joe's not wanting to have criminals (even after their having "served time" to have immediate access to weapons (especially guns), but I also sympathize with Mike's point(s) that even a (former) criminal does indeed have rights, and could/should UNDER PROPER CIRCUMSTANCES be recognized and accorded such rights, including the right (if s/he proves sufficiently rehabilitated) pack heat.

Paradoxically, for a transhumanist, I am currently a bit of technopeasant of sorts (I'm accessing this list/chat site via a public (library) computer, and must shortly quit. So I now must sign-off, even though I have(had) more to say. But let me THANK ALL OF YOU VERY DEEPLY AND SINCERELY FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS SINCE I'VE JOINED THE LIST. I respect the hell out of ALL of you, and hope that the ongoing discussion(s) will be some less flamewar-ish, yet I am not discouraging the discussion of any topics.

One last thing: in BC Crandall's 2nd anthology (whose title I can't recall just now), there is , of course an article on u-fog and embedded in there, almost as an incidental-thought-in-passing, is the notion that nanotech (of some sort--some type of u-fog more or less) would enable a kind of macro-level active shield sort of interpersonal environment by be programmed to disallow (and pre-empt, intervene against, etc.) any would-be act(s) of AGGRESSION between and amongst people (and we're talking bodily aggression here, but this could be applied to some extent to "property" objects and what-not, as well). This struck me a way-cool (and utterly logical) and could be seen as the ultimate evolution/limiting case of non-lethal "weapon" tech thread here on the chatlist lately. Just a thought/quasi-reference!!

I have a genuine fondness for all of you, as fellow transhumanists!
(and Anders, you've got a great website; thanks for your feedback, always;
and thanks in advance to Joe and Mike and all the rest who may wish to comment of this missive (hopefully not a rant, geez!!)

Best regards to all,

MCP                      Beyond Eutopia--Toward (Meta)Cosmic Horizons!

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