The Nonaggression Principle and a Question

An excellent piece by our old libertarian friend Arizona cirminal-defense lawyer Marc Victor (warning: autoplay audio on that firm site): I Am a Peaceful AR-15 Assault Rifle Owner.

Our society is a sick one, certainly emotionally and arguably mentally ill. It sexualizes children and worships violence. If American society were a young man, we damn sure wouldn’t want it to own an assault rifle.

But the vast majority of assault rifles are safely held by peaceable people like Victor. I would have no problem having well-armed people like Victor as my neighbors (in fact, I have, and I found that they made good neighbors in good times and great neighbors during emergencies).

Victor has a diagnosis for the sickness infecting our society:

The single biggest contributing factor to our culture of violence is that our society no longer adheres to the once basic notion that initiating force against non-aggressors is wrong.

That once-basic notion to which Victor refers is what libertarians call the Nonaggression Principle: roughly, initiating or threatening violence against the person or property of another is illegitimate. All of us violate the Nonaggression Principle every day, so much so that most of us don’t even know we’re doing it.

“Well,” you say, “I don’t violate the Nonaggression Principle every day.” 

See, I told you: you don’t even know you’re doing it. You don’t know because you’re doing it through proxies. Every time a police officer pulls someone over for speeding (nonviolent victimless crime) he is threatening violence against that person and his property on your behalf: the speeder’s compliance is assured only by the fact that the police officer and his colleagues have your license to use force against him.

By giving the government license to use force on our behalf against our fellow citizens who have neither harmed anyone nor threatened to do so, we have abandoned the Nonaggression Principle. And as we don’t respect the Nonaggression Principle in our polity, so we abandon it in our society.

Victor has an AR-15, a military-style semiautomatic rifle that will accept a magazine holding twenty or more rounds of ammunition. Many people would call this an assault rifle (some would argue that true assault rifles are fully automatic). It’s precisely the sort of weapon that Dianne Feinstein would address with her assault weapon ban.

Feinstein would require that Victor give up his AR-15 or register it. Imagine that Victor (or Joshua Boston) refuses to relinquish or register his weapon. What then? The government has two choices: let it slide, or seize the weapon. The law is the law, and if the government lets Victor and Boston keep their AR-15s nobody else is going to surrender theirs. So the government has to seize the weapon.

Agents go to Victor’s door. “Mr. Victor, we’re here from the government, and we’re here for your gun.”

“You can’t come in.”

They can’t let him get away with that. Boom, down comes the door. Victor is held at gunpoint, his safe is cracked, his weapon is taken, and he goes to jail.

And that’s the best-case scenario: so much violence initiated against a peaceful man, all in the name of the public, and at the particular behest of those who would support Feinstein’s law.

So here’s the question for those who favor the government pointing a gun at Victor on their behalf to take away his rifle:

Assuming you could do so with impunity, would you point that gun at Victor yourself?

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