virus: simple machines

Eric Boyd (
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 10:57:46 -0400

Mark Phillips wrote, in an eminently rational, evenly toned, and logically thought out post:

> 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
> 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...

I won't tap on your trachea here, because this is an issue which does concern me. Where I get my hackles up is when I point out the fact that the Constitution permits no infringements whatsoever, some people automatically think that I am saying that I think that everyone should be able to carry any weapon they can get their hands on/build, whatever, which they then use to call me a crazed loon/neo-nazi(even though nazis were the biggest gun controllers around). If you think there should be limits, I say fine, get them passed as a Constitutional Amendment, as they should be. If you can't do that, don't bother me.

I do think that anyone who buys a gun should have at the very least an informal training in proper firearm use, if not a formal class. I think that we should take the same attitude we take with sex education, driver education, and drug education in the schools, and provide firearms safety education. Most all high schools used to do so, but eliminated such classes due to NEA pressure. I think this is probably a contributing factor to the wave of teen gun violence in the past decade, i.e. nothing has been there to teach responsible use, respect for the technology and the law, etc. The concern about proper training is a valid one that even the founding fathers recognised, which is why the term "well regulated" is in the 2nd amendment, which in that day and age meant well trained and skilled. Its IMHO everyone's constitutional DUTY to learn to responsibly use weapons because of this, unless they have a religious type of reticence against violence even in defense, as is provided for Contientious Objectors, then they are exampted.

> 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.

When political opinions which were the mainstream core of societal values are considered by the current establishment to be a sign of mental instability, then the validity of using mental competency as a means of depriving people of their civil rights ought to come into serious question. When people on this list participating in this very discussion promote the removal of civil rights for their political opinions, and are the same people promoting the same removal for mental competency, I get very nervous.

> 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.

Under a libertarian society outlook, a former violent criminal will find significant barriers to their ability to carry heat, namely their ability to obtain insurance coverage and gain employment. Under the current system there is existing means for rehabilitated individuals to regain their right to own and use guns, its called an appeal for removal of civil disability. There is the InstaCheck system for verifying the eligibility of gun purchasers, which I support, as its a database of banned and questionable individuals, just as Joe propounds about. My only objection to the administration of this system is that the powers that be are illegally and unconstitutionally using the system to collect records of gun purchases by law abiding individuals, as a quasi-gun registration system.

> 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!!

Yes, it is an interesting idea. I personally look forward to its development, but I will vehemently oppose any attempt to confiscate my property, or limits to my ability to obtain property of a defensive nature under the rationalization that the promise of this technology negates my need for other means of defense.