Monday, September 29, 2014

Would you sell a car to someone you do not know?

Alan Gottlieb, at the Gun Rights Policy Conference, asked a very scary question.  It is a question loaded with bad premises, freighted with unintended consequences.   It was terrifying when you consider where it leads us, as a society.

It was: Would you sell a gun to someone you do not know?

The premise that underlies the question is that selling a gun to someone that you do not know is irresponsible, and that it should be regulated by the government.

Alan followed up his question with another terrifying premise: If you sell your gun to someone who later uses it in a crime, you could be held liable for the criminal's actions. 

Alan asked us whether a jury would hold a person liable if they sold a gun to someone they did not know, who committed a crime with it later.

This premise has already been knocked down by at least one court, because it takes us down the rabbit hole to Alice in Wonderland.   No one should be held responsible for the actions someone else commits with property that was legally sold.   If you can be held liable for this, then selling a car, or a computer, or a telephone, or a knife, or a chainsaw to someone who later uses it criminally would make the seller liable for that criminal act.   It undercuts the very foundation of a free society.

Alan is a very smart guy.  I respect Alan.  I like Alan.   The premise of his question is horrifying.   It is a simple train of thought. 

1. Selling to someone you do not know is irresponsible.

2. To prevent this irresponsible action, the government must monitor who things are sold to, so that bad people cannot buy things that can be used in crimes.

3.  If the government must monitor transactions so that bad people may not buy things that the government thinks they should not have, then the government may stop those transactions.

4.  This does not stop at guns.   Knives can be used in crime, as can cars, and computers, and shoes.

5.  If the government may stop those transactions, they may stop *any* transactions, because virtually everything and all transactions may be used for criminal purposes.   Governments have historically used this power to disenfranchise and destroy those who they politically disagree with.

The freedom to buy and sell to people anonymously is a fundamental property right.  If the government can say that you may not sell your property, it has taken that property from you.

If we believe that some individuals are so dangerous that they should not have access to certain things, such as guns or knives or computers, then those people need to be in prison or closely monitored so that they do not have access to those things. 

Setting up a system so that everyone in society is monitored to prevent the actions of a few evil or irresponsible people is an excuse to control everyone.   It is what has brought us to the NSA recording all telephone conversations. 

A free society is put in grave peril when such systems are put in place.   Those in power are always tempted to use such systems to help keep them in power.

Could the IRS ever be used for political purposes?

President Nixon was hounded out of office for merely considering it.

It appears that elements of the current administration actually did it.

Alan Gottlieb made these remarks while talking to the conference about his concerns with the gun control dueling initiatives in Washington State.

He believes that severe gun control, disguised as "universal background checks" is likely to pass in Washington State.   The initiative for this is number I 594.  Billionaires have contributed millions of dollars to push I 594.  The pro freedom forces are being outspent 8 to 1. 

A competing initiative was put on the ballot to prevent the abuses inherent in the densely worded 18 pages of legalese that is I-594.

It is initiative I-591.   It is a simple one page initiative that  requires background checks in Washington State to comply with national standards, and to require due process before any gun is confiscated.     It is behind in the polls.

Whether you are a Christian or not, there is much wisdom in the Bible.   In the book of Revelations, the most evil of governments puts in place a system where no one can buy or sell without government permission.

For millions of people in NAZI Germany and The Soviet Union, that sort of control meant the end of the world.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

Alan stated back in early 2013 in a radio interview that not compromising on the Federal background check legislation will lead to a flurry of state level gun control initiatives that will be very costly to fight. So, aside from his view that the background check position would be morally indefensible, there was a more practical reason to his view.

One can beat up on him for his philosophical outlook, but the legislative fallout seems to be slowly shaping up according to his predictions. The passage of I-594 will unleash a flurry of similar initiatives in many other states. It is already planned for Oregon and Nevada, but it won't stop there.

A tough situation indeed.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I would point out that the whole premise is based on the assumption that all irresponsible behavior should be made illegal. I challenge that. History has shown that governments do not make good nannies, and that people need the right to be stupid.

Selling a powerful car to a teenage boy is irresponsible, but legal. Selling a gun to a stranger is less than totally responsible, and might be irresponsible if you suspected the stranger was dangerous. Making either act illegal invites greater social harm simple because governments are stupid, clumsy, intrusive, and arrogant.