11A016 Banner Alert by Jim Davies, 1/16/2011    

After every prominent shooting, there's a rash of calls from knee-jerk controllers to ban guns, and this week is right on track. The 20,000 laws violating Amendment Two are still too few for them. One of the clearest and frankest calls came from Mark Shields on Friday:

"As somebody who doesn't use guns and hasn't touched a firearm since I left the Marine Corps, and don't view them as sporting goods -- I view catcher's mitts as sporting goods -- they're instruments of death and destruction. So, I state my bias at the outset."

It's amazing. This articulate, intelligent and often amusing commentator accepts that while a Marine he could handle lethal weapons with impunity and kill whomever the government told him to kill, but once out of uniform he wanted no more to do with guns, not even to defend himself and his family from deadly attack. It takes a special kind of mind to be that fanatic a Statist.

However, one of the less ludicrous ideas floated was to ban gun ownership by the mentally unstable. In a zero-government society, no parent will let a young child play with a loaded revolver, and the same would apply to anyone caring for someone unfortunate enough to be adult but not mature or responsible for his actions. Even today, some of those 20,000 laws do prohibit gun ownership to the certified insane.

There though is the problem: how exactly is "insane" to be defined? Jared Loughner was gaga enough to scare his classmates, but not so crazy as to be denied admission to college, or thrown out long before he was, or to be so certified. Indeed, there are times when I think the whole world crazy except you and me, and I'm not even sure about you... so defining this is a tough job! Even some experts - Dr Thomas Szasz, for example - insist that "mental illness" does not actually exist; that it's a myth, that bizarre behavior is rather just a defense mechanism by those who feel unable to cope with the pressures of their circumstances. So if scholars and experts can't agree, what hope do lawmakers have? - the idea itself is mad.

Here's how this would play out in a ZGS: if Dr Szasz is right there will be less bizarre behavior, because the pressures of life will not be amplified by the monstrous impediments thrown in our way by government agents; nonetheless, no doubt there will be some. If I am ever unlucky enough to be close to someone waving a gun at me or someone else evidently harmless, I hope I'll have the presence of mind to draw my own and shout "You with the red jacket, drop that gun NOW!" and then if he doesn't, shoot him - if possible, to disable but not to kill. The natural right to use defensive force extends only to what is needed to remove the threat. Now, that right applies regardless of the mental state of the gun-waver, for I could not possibly know it.

Will that lead sometimes to the death of someone who is sick rather than malevolent? - unhappily, yes. I can't see a way to avoid that. A zero government society will not be perfect. It will just be by far the best of all possible worlds.

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