« Guns Are Banned In 4 Out Of 5 State Houses | Main | Hassan Inaugural Short On Specifics »

I Remain A Libertarian, But Never An Anarchist!

Right wing reaction to my blog on the House gun ban has been so virulent that I'll offer some additional comments here.  My role yesterday was primarily that of reporter (with a parenthetical phrase offering my opinion), but apparently I offended some long time readers.  That's fine; I suspect you'll be more offended by this elaboration.  First here's the comment from someone who has the audacity to say I dare not call myself a libertarian after my vote on the bill...then my response. 

Your question, Rep. Vaillancourt, is an odd one: "how it's against the second amendment to ban guns from the State House but not from court houses?" Both gun bans are a violation of our rights.

The real question is why are gun bans suddenly needed protect those in power from those who aren't? Why do government official fear repercussions if their actions are lawful and just?

Clearly this fear is growing and there will be no abatement. Last week in Minnesota judges were fighting over their own right to keep and bear arms in courthouses: "Gun dispute pits judge vs. judge" http://www.startribune.com/local/north/184571721.html?refer=y

I'm very disappointed with your vote. Especially your vote against Rep. Burt's compromise amendment to allow weapons with NH license to carry.

By the way, there’s no such thing as a NH “pistol permit.” Nor is there any such thing as a libertarian who doesn't uphold our RKBA. You may call yourself a democrat or a republican, but you are no longer a libertarian imho.

Doris Hohensee (doris.hohensee@myfairpoint.net)


 I personally feel neither less nor more safe with our without guns. I tend to be oblivious to feelings of safety. I once avoided being mugged in Amsterdam when I put myself in harm's way by walking, late at night, filming, in an alley in the red light district. The would-be assailant went for a spare battery (they were large back then) in my pocket, but I escaped (I think he was too stoned to assault me properly).

I have never felt threatened in Montreal. There was one incident of some rowdies on a bus in East Berlin, but it was minor. As I say, I'm rather oblivious to danger and I've lived 61 plus years.

However, as always, it's not about me personally. I base my decisions, always have, always will, on what I feel is best for society. It was interesting to note the example from Rep. Kurk yesterday. He spoke of an incident almost 30 years ago (Sununu was governor and delivering a speech on the floor) wherein a person came running down the aisle (with a book—my source tells me it was not just a book—it was a BIBLE!) and was tackled. Tackling seems like the appropriate action to me, so I never understood Rep. Kurk's analogy as pro-gun. I shudder to think that if many Reps were packing back then, someone would have whipped out a gun and shot this Bible carrying person (or other innocent bystanders) dead in front of the crowded House.  

I do not believe there should be armed security (even if well trained) at every school, mall, restaurant, or place where people congregate. That would change the very nature of our free society. Freedom for me involves being free from INTIMIDATION, and the very nature of guns is to intimidate.


Tragedies, despite the terrible nature of a few well publicized recent ones, remain few and far between.  Rep. Al Baldassaro was actually TOTALLY wrong when he suggested yesterday that more than a score of people had been stabbed to death in an incident in China recently. The fact is that unlike the Connecticut incident here, the people in China were stabbed but did NOT die. That's the difference between guns and knives...you can kill with a knife, but not on the scale you can kill with an assault weapon.

If you want to look into violence on the House floor (US House), check out Vt. Rep Lyons who was badly caned during the John Adams administration...or Mass Senator Sumner (an abolitionist) was nearly killed in a fight on the floor...one NOT involving guns. I believe that incident is covered in David McCullough’s latest book Americans in Paris.

If you are disappointed in my vote, at least you should not be surprised. I actually delivered a speech on this very issue a few years ago...when Dems were in control and brought the issue forward. I believe the phrase I used then (and stand by today despite the anger it drew from some) was that I'm a libertarian, not an anarchist.

 We've come a long way from Hobbesian man. There is no need for guns in any court, specific or General in my humble opinion. No freedom is absolute, least of all a freedom which could involve hurting other people. That's why I don't care what you do to yourself, but with guns, the goal too often is to harm others (human or animal) or at the very minimum to intimidate. I support your right to carry a gun, but not everywhere you go. If you don't think libertarians have a right to differ on this issue, Doris, I can remove you from my mailing list...I can tolerate criticism but not blind stupidity. You might check into Ron Paul's position before you relegate me to your netherworld.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

How would voting for Rep. John Burt's amendment, which made a provision for those with a government issued license to carry, be objectionable to a libertarian leaning republican?

By rights, most self-respecting anarchists would not seek a government issued license to carry,
so one would understand if they objected. Yet Tim O'Flaherty, the House's new self-proclaimed anarchist, fully supported Rep. Burt's amendment. He's practical: he'll take what he can get.

Your suggestion to check Ron Paul's position provides no cover either. That libertarian leaning
republican fully supports our RKBA.

You're not worried about your personal security, only what's best for society? How is creating yet another gun-free slaughter zone best for anyone? Such zones are an open invitation to any kook with a weapon: knife, gun, it doesn't matter.

You should be honest that in this matter you now support a feel-good nanny state, not a republic which acknowledges the rights of minorities over the clamor of a majority.
January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoris Hohensee
Steve - I've no problem with excluding guns from certain locations. But to do so effectively you need to have metal detectors or some other search mechanism to exclude firearms. To simply declare an area a "gun-free zone" without enforcing it is symbolic politics, pure and simple. And it can even be harmful -- only the law-abiding will choose to obey the rule, and the rule will be ineffective at excluding those bent on harm.
January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason
What's best for Society?
– C. dog ponders weighty words with analytic dispassion
January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
Steve, the basic idea of libertarianism is your rights end where mine begin. Given that basic premise how then does having someone legally allowed by law to carry a gun in any way cause you harm or violate any of your rights?

Also one additional point, carrying a gun isn't about "needing" it. I don't know a single gun owner who ever hopes to ever need their gun. In fact the vast majority hopefully never will ever need it. But if they ever do get in a situation where they need it and cannot have it on them because YOU voted to take away their right to carry then you have personally caused them harm. That is about as far from being a libertarian as you can get.

Being a libertarian goes far beyond supporting legalization of drugs or being willing to support perversion in the privacy of ones bedroom. It is about letting others be free even when you may not agree with their choice as long as it does you no harm.
January 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterRick Barnes
The most basic reason for us to form into governments is, in the Hobbesian cave man analogy, to prevent you from hitting me over my head and stealing my wife and food or me from treating you in a similar fashion. Fast forward to modern times; the most basic reason for government is not to provide welfare or speed limits or funding for the arts, but it remains for me not to hurt you and conversely for me not to hurt you. I give up my "right" not to hurt you with the assurance that you have also given up your right not to hurt me. That's basic social contract theory starting with Hobbes, my favorite. The most basic function of government, it can well be argued, is to deny you the right to have guns because the very purpose of guns is to harm me. Don't say they are to defend yourself because we've already stipulated that we form governments so none of us will have the right or ability to harm another. Now, I don't take social contract theory to its logical conclusion of banning all guns, but it is tough to make a case that all kinds of guns should be allowed in all places because the more advanced the weaponry, the easier to hurt each other. The ban of guns in courts and state houses is a realistic compromise; just like my right to free speech does not include shouting fire in a crowded theater. Just like my right to free assembly does not allow me to get thousands of people in the House gallery to scream obscenities at people trying to legislate. That's the principle by which I supported (reluctantly) Bill O'Brien's decision to close the House gallery last year during the budget vote.

I go far beyond legalizing drugs and bedroom issues (most conservatives do not), but when you move into the realm of unlimited gun possession, you are not a libertarian, but rather an anarchist taking us back to what Hobbes would describe as caveman days when you can club me over the head and steal my wife and food as I try to do the same to you. There is no such thing as absolute freedom because it leads us back to absolute anarchy and the cave man mentality. To hide behind libertarian label when you if fact harbor anarhcial views is not a service to any movement. I support your right to do just about anything you want as long as it involves hurting only yourself. Very few people have guns because they want to hurt only themselves. In other words, guns for suicide would be fine with me, but what percentage of people want a gun for suicide? Close to zero. By their very nature, guns are meant to harm or at least to intimidate others.

I have NEVER seen any conflict as being an absolutist in terms of individual rights (in other words, a pure libertarian) but at the same time restricting guns. Its the first role of any society. Abortion if a trickier issue for libertarians--some feel the right to kill the unborn (and it really is killing) is trumped by a woman's right to control her own body. That's a tough debate, and as with guns, I come down somewhere in the middle--some abortions must be allowed (let's say up to the point of viability of the fetus), but if we go too far, we are basically saying infants can be killed. I won't go that far because life trumps liberty; just as life trumps liberty with guns. We need to think in terms of shades of gray, not black and white, and it accomplishes nothing to label people like me less than libertarians. It is in fact why libertarianism has never caught on as a majority philosophy. The ideal too often is made the enemy of the good by people unwilling to compromise. I am an absolutist only when it comes to harming my own body, not my right to threaten you.

You will have to search far and wide, Doris Dear, to find anyone more intellectually honest than I am and slurring me with the insult of being dishonest does not help the cause; in fact, it only gets you removed from my automatic service. Disagree with me, but to call me dishonest is beyond the pale. You may still offer comments here, but you have ben removed from my email service. I mention Dr. Paul because he is someone I idolize, and I would never slur him even if we had any honest disagreement. And I value his opinions far more than yours, sad to say.

I strongly suspect the founders would agree with me, that they were not packing heat when they went into Independence Hall to pass the Declaration or to draft the Constitution. They believed, as I do, in the right to carry guns but were wise enough not to make it an absolute right. Jefferson especically (read the new Meacham book) was far from the idealist many think of him as and much more the pragmatist, willing to compromise and yield when necessary -- in practice, if not in words. He, for example, knew he was exceeding the grant of presidential power by agreeing to the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon, but the situation demaded it. I've often thought how Libertarains bastardized his name by applying it to those resolutions from last term. In fact, read Meacham and you will learn that Jefferson abandoned his support of his own Kentucky Resolutions (the right of nullification) later on. It was another case of the ideal not holding reality captive!
January 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt
Steve you started off ok but half way in your argument went astray...

" I give up my "right" not to hurt you with the assurance that you have also given up your right not to hurt me. That's basic social contract theory starting with Hobbes, my favorite. The most basic function of government, it can well be argued, is to deny you the right to have guns because the very purpose of guns is to harm me. Don't say they are to defend yourself because we've already stipulated that we form governments so none of us will have the right or ability to harm another."

You can't give up your "right" not to hurt me because there is no right... however the 5th amendment states:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Note the part about being deprived of life, liberty or property. Once you initiate an act of violence against me, you are defaulting your rights to life, liberty and/or property because we've already established a legal system in which self defense is legal "due process".

You also have the state constitution which states "All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state."

So the act of "defense" is not seen the same as the "'right' to hurt someone else" so your argument does not hold up.

I've had a similar discussion with some of my libertarian friends and they agree that libertarianism does not equal pacifism. You would be more accurate in declaring yourself a minimal government pacifist then a true libertarian.
January 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterRick Barnes
Robert Frost, from Auspex, a great poem, is best quoted here. "I remain resentful to this day when any but I dare say there is anything I cannot be."
I'll determine my right to call myself a Libertarian...if you please. Look at my voting history and Liberty Alliance rating...that will affirm my libertarianism...if it needs such affirmation!
No one with a scintilla of sense would think of me as a pacifist (although the only war in U.S. history I believe I would have supported, would be the defensive Revolutionary War...no wars of aggession or intercontinental alliances please!) , so let's get real here.
The "right" or agreement not to hurt others is implicit in social contract theory.
January 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt
Hey Steve –
Can I get me a copy of that social contract theory, along with the terms and conditions of the Grate State marriage license :-)?
– C. dog still thinks Steve is the closest thing to Ivory Soap Libertarian under the gilded dome in Concord
January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
Hobbes is not easy to read. His main book is called "Levithan". The most famous line in it concerns life before we formed governments, when life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". I would recommend reading about Hobbes rather than reading Hobbes himself...unless you're really up to reading tough stuff. I remember doing a term paper on it my final year in college for a course called Social and Intellectual History of Europe. The paper was as dry as Hobbes, something about how Hobbes related formation of society to the various limbs of the body. I tried to find it in my basement but failed to do so...the same time I was writing an advanced grammar paper on the greatest of all topics, the dangling modifier! You know you're getting old when you remember what you did 40 years ago more than what you did yesterday!
Since Ivory always advertised to be 99.44 percent pure, I doubt I'm in that category....maybe about 88.44 percent pure libertarian for me.
January 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt
That means there's ... ~ 12% room for improvement! Aim high Steve – New Hamster is woefully short of Lady Liberty's hemline. If I were a Lenin-Marx strategist, I'd focus on school choice of one, de facto control of property via zoning and planning boreds, and endless bureaucracies subject to non-limiting provisions of legislative whim. Seems like the path toward Freedomstan is rather straight forward.
– C. dog, purebred, unconstrained mutt
January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.