On Tuesday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed Kentucky SB 150 into law. This bill extends constitutional carry into Kentucky to concealed carry. Prior to SB 150, Kentucky limited constitutional carry to open carry. As a result, the list of constitutional carry states now rises to 16.
By Ryan Lau | United States
Allegedly firm supporters of gun rights in the conservative camp use an interesting argument. In reality, they often do indeed support some limitations on the right to bear arms. However, for the sake of argument, allow me to table this point and deal only with those who truly support full gun rights. One of their arguments goes like this:
- Many politicians advocate that we create gun-free zones in places such as schools and public places, with the goal of combating gun violence.
- People willing to commit murder are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
- Gun-free zones come in the form of other, less serious laws.
- If someone will break a felony law such as murder, then another, less serious law will not deter them from still killing.
- Therefore, regardless of morals, creating gun-free zones are not an effective way to combat gun violence.
In order for this argument to hold true, it must be both valid and sound. For it to be valid, the conclusion, point 5, must be undeniably true, if we assume that the premises, points 1-4, are also true. For it to be sound, points 1-4 must actually be true, therefore proving point 5 the same.
A Valid and Sound Argument
First of all, let’s examine whether the argument is logically valid. Point 1, of course, establishes what the action is doing: creating gun-free zones. It also makes the goal clear: combating gun violence. Points 2 and 4 explain that someone willing to break a law, murder, will do so again. As point 3 explains, a gun-free zone is a law. If we assume true that murderers do not follow laws and gun-free zones are laws, then it logically follows that murderers will not follow gun-free zones. If the gun-free zones do not reduce the murder rate, then they cannot be an effective means of combating gun violence. So, the argument is valid.
Similarly, the argument turns out to be sound, for all four of the premises are true. Gun-free zones, of course, cannot exist in the public sphere without a law creating them. Certainly, their only meaning is to deter gun violence. Therefore, points 1 and 3 are correct.
Point 2 is also correct. Barring instances such as military and police killings, taking the life of another human being is illegal. The government, though, does not consider these cases murders at all. In fact, they define murder as unlawful killing. Thus, every murder involves breaking a law, proving point 2 true.
As for point 4, one merely needs to look at the sentencing for various crimes. For a mass shooting, the punishment is either life in prison without parole or death. So, there is simply no way that an additional sentence would make this worse; an added fine or lengthened sentence mean little to someone who will never be free. This points to the fact that there is no reason for a murderer to follow the laws pertaining to gun-free zones. As a result, it is clear that point 4 is true, making the argument valid and sound.
The Constitution Comparison
Surely, the above argument holds true, provided that it is both valid and sound. Then, of course, the same reasoning must hold itself to be true in other, similar circumstances. If I can substitute the subject and object, but the logical premises remain the same, then the argument is also still valid and sound. Let’s see what happens when placing this analysis in the scope of abiding by the Constitution.
- Many politicians advocate that we create a Constitution to restrain government, with the goal of combating a growing, tyrannical state.
- People willing to authorize killing are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
- The United States Constitution comes in the form of United States law.
- If someone will authorize killing, then words on paper will not deter them from still authorizing killing.
- Therefore, regardless of morals, creating a Constitution is not an effective way to combat government growth.
Why is it, then, that so many people see the first one to be true, but not the second? Assuming the premises to be true, the conclusion is necessarily also true. Moreover, just like above, the premises themselves were true. The Constitution, thus, is no more effective than gun-free zones. Anyone who uses this argument against gun-free zones should also recognize its futility in other areas, especially that of the Constitution. The size of government has increased continually, and no sign or words on paper can stop it.
So, the Constitution, designed to prevent the growth of government, does not do so. Now what? Admittedly, this is a bold claim; the document’s futility undermines nearly 250 years of status quo. Without the Constitution, many traditional aspects of our society fall apart. Voting for change becomes nil if the politicians have no reason to ignore such change. Since the dawn of America, the government has grown continuously, showing little regard for any such limitations, regardless of party.
However, hope is not lost. Rather, it comes from an entirely different avenue: subversive innovation. In 10 years, innovators who simply ignored the will of the state have done more for the liberty of the commoners than any politician has done since the dawn of the Libertarian Party. In 2009, as a response to the government’s control and manipulation of currency, Satoshi Nakamoto responded with an online, decentralized currency: Bitcoin. Since then, transactions have become easier, and many people have grown rich off of a coin not tied to fiat.
Following suit, a few years later, Ross Ulbricht joined the stage. With his platform, The Silk Road, he allowed consumers to avoid the regulation that they disapproved of on the state. Predominantly, users bought small amounts of marijuana, years before most politicians even considered its legalization.
Not long after, Cody Wilson jumped into the fray with Defense Distributed. By 3D printing guns with his files, consumers could escape the crippling regulatory action of the government. Without hurting anyone, he won a battle for decentralization.
A Common Characteristic
What do all of these, so far, have in common? Two things jump out right away. First of all, they all had a tangible effect on common people who did not need to understand the complex workings of the system. With very basic knowledge, they could help themselves and make their own lives easier.
Moreover, none of these actions required a vote, or anything political. The innovators did not act to support or oppose the government; they acted to help the people, without consulting the government. Their actions have aided many more than the vote has, even though the latter has had far longer to take effect. While the Libertarian Party garners 2% in some Senate race, subversive innovators change the world. While Nicholas Sarwark runs a good meeting, Max Borders helps to create a future where people do not need the state because they live on floating seasteads.
The vote, a natural extension of the Constitution, is as ineffective as gun-free zones. It has, for nearly 250 years, led the country further into darkness. Why, then, does anyone expect it to lead us back to the light?
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Indri Schaelicke | United States
I had the amazing opportunity to interview the founder and current president/CEO of Open Carry Texas, CJ Grisham. We discussed the organization’s goals and feats so far, as well as some of the current gun-related issues in the news today.
Schaelicke: What is Open Carry Texas? What is your Mission Statement?
Grisham: Our purpose is to: 1 Educate all Texans about their right to carry in the State of Texas; 2 Condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry; 3 Pressure elected officials to repeal restrictive and unconstitutional gun legislation; 4 Foster a cooperative relationship with local law enforcement in the furtherance of these goals with an eye towards preventing negative encounters, while defending our rights.
Schaelicke: What was your motivation for creating this organization?
Grisham: On March 16, 2013, I was falsely arrested for the lawful carry of a firearm and the NRA refused to help me with my case. It was that moment where I realized that Texas needed an organization to defend our gun rights more aggressively and unapologetically. I also realized that our gun laws were too restrictive for law abiding citizens. At the time, we were one of only six states that banned open carry of handguns.
Schaelicke: What do you do to achieve your agenda? Do you hold events or lobby for specific legislation?
Grisham: We held rallies, encouraged people all across the state to openly carry their rifles since that was legal, and then lobbied our legislators to pass less restrictive gun laws like open carry and campus carry.
Schaelicke: Do you view gun control as being pushed for by both parties, or is only one responsible for the drastic reduction in American gun rights?
Grisham: To some degree, both major political parties are responsible to some degree for gun control legislation. Without a doubt, the Democrat party is more offensive to gun rights, but the Republicans are very good at caving to them to appear compromising. When the Republicans compromise, it means we lose more liberty and rights.
Schaelicke: Why do gun rights matter to you, both personally and as an organization?
Grisham: Personally, gun rights matter to me because as a combat veteran, I’ve seen what happens when the populace is disarmed. Government is capable of doing whatever it wants. Additionally, I have a fundamental and inalienable right to life, which means I have a fundamental and inalienable right to protect that life. Gun rights are the great equalizer between predator and prey. As an organization, it’s important because defending rights on a larger scale matter. We can accomplish more when we come together as a common cause and goal.
Schaelicke: Obviously, running such an organization requires large amounts of funding. How is Open Carry Texas financed?
Grisham: We don’t require large amounts of funding because we have no overhead. No one in Open Carry Texas is paid and we don’t have physical offices. We are a truly grassroots organization. We are funded through donation from supporters, typically between $2.23 to $30.06 per month. We do not have any major sponsors or donors outside of those individual donors. Every year, we also hold a raffle to raise money for our operations. When we need to purchase a big ticket item, we’ll also hold a crowdfunding effort to do so. If we don’t have the money, we don’t do it. So far, we’ve been able to raise money for all of our needs.
Schaelicke: Does this financing method present any challenges to the organization, or is it promoting its growth?
Grisham: It’s definitely difficult because we never know exactly how much we have from month to month. Our donors come and go. We circumvent this problem by paying most of our bills (internet hosting, website, email, insurance, etc) in five-year increments. We are looking into growing the organization through a paid membership that will allow us to hire a full-time employee, but that is resource and time consuming.
Schaelicke: What is the biggest struggle OCT has faced and overcome so far?
Grisham: Learning how to handle media and understanding optics of our events. When I started OCT, I just assumed people understood what we were fighting for and underestimated how the media loves to twist and distort facts. We were frequently presented in a much different light in the media compared to the reality on the ground and we were a little slow in adapting to a way of countering that. Once we realized how to control our own narrative, things have gone much smoother.
Schaelicke: Is your work specifically related to second amendment issues, or do your efforts concern other civil rights?
Grisham: We are a civil rights organization focused on the 2nd amendment. However, we also fight against violations of our 1st and 4th amendment rights which tend to coincide with our activism. For example, in order to push our agenda, it’s important we be able to exercise our 1st amendment right to protest and seek redress from government. As we exercise our 2nd amendment rights, it’s also important that we protect and defend the 4th amendment right to be free from illegal searches and seizures. So, we educate our members about when they are required to get licenses for protests and when they don’t; when they have to provide their identification or not resist a search. It’s also important that they understand the scope of their 5th amendment rights when being questioned.
Schaelicke: What is OCT’s proposed solution to ending school shootings? Why is this the best proposal out of the many out there?
Grisham: There is no single solution to ending school shootings. However, there are ways to greatly reduce them, beginning with controlling entrances and exits at schools. We support allowing teachers and administrators who choose to do so to arm themselves in self-defense and defense of their students. We fight to end all gun free zones so that our schools are hardened targets. Even hardened targets get attacked, but with much less frequency than soft targets, like gun free zones. We also need to re-introduce gun safety training into our schools. This doesn’t mean we train kids to fear guns, but to respect them by teaching them how to safely handle them as well as the consequences of handling them irresponsibly. If we take away the fear aspect, we regain the respect aspect.
Schaelicke: Why should people care about gun rights?
Grisham: Because if people pay attention to history, societies that are disarmed are much more turbulent and violent. When a society is armed, government is held in check and is less likely to become tyrannical. We gained our independence from tyranny because of the right to keep and bear arms. We overcame slavery because of the right to keep and bear arms. Gun rights ensure that we are capable of being responsible for our own safety instead of having to rely on government to do so for us. Police cannot be everywhere at once and don’t prevent crimes; they merely respond to them. It is incumbent upon us to be our own first line of defense against violence.
Schaelicke: The work of Defense Distributed, the company famous for selling the code to produce 3D printed guns, has caused many to question the legitimacy of working within the framework of existing laws. Is there a degree of moral or pragmatic right in breaking the law to secure gun rights?
Grisham: Nothing Defense Distributed did broke any laws. We don’t support breaking any laws, provided they are constitutional, at which point people need to assess the risk/benefit gained from ignoring unconstitutional laws.
Schaelicke: If someone would like to get involved in pro-gun activism, how can they do so?
Grisham: They can go to www.opencarrytexas.org or their local, grassroots gun rights organization and sign up to learn more. They can join us at our events, follow our social media, or help us through other forms of activism like sending emails or making phone calls. Additionally, they can financially support organizations like ours who are fighting hard to protect the rights so many have died to protect.
Schaelicke: Is there anything you would like to share with the readers that you have not had a chance to speak about so far?
Grisham: More than anything else, the 2nd amendment is about self-DEFENSE. The use of force is NEVER legitimate when used in the offense, but is always right in defense of it. Modern society is no more or less dangerous than other times in history; the difference is simply the means of creating danger. I and Open Carry Texas never condone violence except in self-defense. We believe that to lower violent crimes, our justice system needs to be drastically overhauled. Prison should be a place where no one wants to go, but today’s prisons are practically resorts where people go and will be fed, clothed, housed, and taken care of. Instead of having cable TV, crunchy peanut butter, and other niceties, prison should include hard labor and sentences should fit the crime. Then, once a person has served their time, all rights should be restored so that they can be re-integrated into society. The problem we have is that criminals get out of prison and our society treats them as criminals the rest of their lives. They find it hard to get jobs that allow for advancement in quality of life. Many people find that the only way they can survive is returning to illegitimate sources of income – crime. If we don’t fix our justice system, we will never fix the violence problem in our country. We also need to stop coddling kids and pretending that there are no losers. Kids need to grow up understanding disappointment and that not all people are created equally. No one is special and everyone has different talents – some have none. This will teach kids to deal with emotions like sadness, anger, and defeat more productively instead of resorting to violence. We need to teach more conflict management.
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By Teagan Fair | United States
On Friday, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, signed bills advancing gun control within the state. A notable piece of this is a law that will raise the minimum age for buying rifles and shotguns from 18 years old to 21 years old.
It is a bit over seven months since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and 3 teachers, injuring 17 others, using a Smith & Wesson M&P15, which is an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. This event launched the left into a full out attack on the second amendment and gun rights. Three weeks after the shooting in Parkland, California passed laws that raised the legal age to purchase a gun, banned bump stocks and allowed police to bar a mentally ill person from owning guns for up to a year if judged to be mentally ill by a court.
Seven months later, California has passed laws that will be put into place on January 1st. The minimum age to buy a rifle or a shotgun will be 21 years of age. These laws also ban firearms for those convicted of serious domestic violence and those who have been hospitalized due to their mental health more than once in a year. Another bill governor signed by the governor will make it easier for both family members and police to seize guns and ammunition from those who are ‘threatening and potentially violent’.
Like all of these proposed gun control laws, raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21 is ridiculous. Of course, you can join the military at 18 and kill people for the government. You can invade countries, attack people you’ve never met and destroy or take lives of innocent people if it’s in the name of the government, but you cannot defend yourself from people trying to attack you unless you are three years older than the minimum age to do previously mentioned activities. If it’s not in the name of the government, of course, it’s sinister now. You can vote for who will represent you at 18, but owning a tool used to defend from criminals, private or government, is somehow malicious. More people are killed by cars than guns each year, yet you can drive at 16 years old.
Not to mention the fact that putting a law on it will likely prove useless, as is true for most gun control arguments. For this particular case, if someone has their mind fixed on committing murders, they will 1. Do so whenever possible, whether that time is when they are 16, 18, 21, etc. and/or 2. Kill by any means necessary, whether that is doing so by gun, knife, car, chemicals, a bat, a sharp stick, jabbing a spoon into someone’s throat, etc. Additionally, if someone is actually fully willing to commit mass murder, they will not be scared of the fact that they are not allowed to buy a gun, considering the fact that it’s incredibly easy to purchase guns illegally, and no law will change that. It’s pretty hard to imagine a mass murderer thinking, ‘Man, I really want to go into a vulnerable area and kill as many defenseless children as I can in cold blood, but apparently I’m not allowed to go and buy a gun. Wouldn’t want to do anything illegal, because it’s not like I’m prepared to kill vulnerable teenagers!’ Obviously, if one does not fear mass murder, they will not fear buying a firearm illegally.
This rule can go for most legislation, including all of the previously stated laws coming into place starting in January. People convicted previously of domestic violence, will obviously not be afraid to illegally obtain a firearm if it supports the much worse crime they are already planning and not afraid to commit. Any future mass murder does not fear gun control laws. Yes, Governor Brown, even if they are mentally ill. Law abiding citizens, on the other hand, who have no interest in murder, hence why they are considered law-abiding citizens, are the only ones who will likely be affected by such laws, leaving them defenseless and in a worse state than before.
Governor Brown’s laws are foolish, both morally and practically. There is no excuse for us to sit and watch as our rights are gradually taken away. I advocate for those who wish for these rights to be protected to stand up to those enforcing these laws on law-abiding citizens so that we can attempt to protect our liberty.
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Justin Tucker, Chair of the Chicago Libertarian Party, is running for Illinois State Representatives in District Four.
71R: With thousands of career options, what inspired you to seek a career in politics?
Tucker: I have been interested in politics since I was a teenager. I have been a libertarian since I learned about Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party nominee in 2000. It was only in 2015 that I jumped into activism and joined my local LP chapter. What inspired me to join was the gross misconduct of the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago amusement tax imposed applying to Netflix. I felt enough was enough. I could no longer be willfully apathetic or believe I couldn’t make a difference.
I am currently the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Chicago, serving since 2016. I also worked on the Gary Johnson’s 2016 campaign as Volunteer Coordinator in Illinois. This year, I collected over 1600 signatures for our statewide candidates to be on the ballot this November.
I choose to run for Illinois House of Representatives in District 4 with the purpose of telling my neighbors about our candidates and maybe getting a few signatures for myself. My energy, however, was better spent circulating petitions for the statewide slate than circulating my own. Also, as a Libertarian, I didn’t want to deal with all the government paperwork to get on the ballot. I will instead be running a write-in campaign to have a platform to talk about why our candidates are the best choices for Illinois and to share our ideas with the electorate.
71R: Many people when they think of government they think of Congress or the presidency. Why is politics at the state level, and in the state House of Representatives, so important and motivated you to get involved?
Tucker: It is often said that all politics is local. Politics at the state and local level are so important because they are closest to the people, and thus easier to make an impact on policy. That’s why I chose to involve myself in a run for a State House seat and also why I support statehood for Cook County.
I’m a fan of local control. It’s easier to hold the crooks accountable when they’re in your neighborhood as opposed to far away legislature.
71R: For over 150 years the United States has been locked in the two-party duopoly. What attracted you to the Libertarian Party?
Tucker: I was attracted to the Libertarian Party because it’s the only party that is for small government and means actually means it. One of the biggest issues for me is getting the government out of the way of my LGBT friends. Republicans claimed to be for smaller government but fought against the right of gender and sexual minorities to marry. When I discovered the Libertarian Party, I saw they were consistently for small government across all areas of life. I’ve been a fan ever since. My only regret is that I didn’t get involved with activism sooner.
71R: Illinois is often brought to the political forefront and were put into the national spotlight during the gun control debates, a debate that still exists today, due to Chicago’s crime. Where do you stand on this critical issue?
Tucker: As a Libertarian, I believe in the right to protect yourself. Chicago residents like Otis McDonald stood up to the city’s infringement on the right to self-defense and ended up changing the course of history. The fight, however, is not over. In Illinois, we need to abolish the Firearm Owner’s Identification card, conceal carry licensing and waiting periods. The Second Amendment is the only permit anyone needs.
Drastically reducing gang violence in Chicago is more of a complicated task. We can start by ending drug prohibition, cutting taxes and regulations to attract economic development, and reforming education.
71R: Our Founding Fathers even disagreed on how to interpret the Constitution, shown in the Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist debates. What is your interpretation of the Constitution, and how does that influence your view on government?
Tucker: The Constitution has, without a doubt, contributed to the development of liberal thought. It was a document designed to limit the power of the federal government and protect the rights of the people. I have a tremendous amount of respect for it. The problem, however, is that it hasn’t prevented the federal government from overstepping its authority.
If our federal government followed the Constitution literally as it is currently written, the size and scope of government would be drastically reduced. I certainly wish that’s how it operates today.
Ideally, the feds are allowed to do only a handful of things. They get out of the way for the rest of the stuff and let the communities in the several states do their things. That’s how I interpret the Constitution. Local control is key and the Constitution influenced me in that regard.
71R: Libertarians tend to believe less government is better government. What is one area of government, however, you would like to see operating?
Tucker: I believe that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of the people. That would include courts, peace officers, and a defensive military.
On a municipal level, I think there’s a little more flexibility in what the government can do if its available to all people. Chicago has gorgeous parks, stocked libraries, and an extensive mass transit system, all of which I use.
Ideally, all these things should be paid for by the most voluntarily or least coercively means possible. In the case of the parks, the libraries and the transit system, these could be fully or partially privatized.
71R: Branching off of the last question, what is one area you think there should be cutbacks or even elimination in the state of Illinois?
Tucker: It’s hard to pick just one, but in Illinois, it would be taxes. We should cut or eliminate as many taxes as we can. Property taxes, incomes taxes, sales taxes, taxes on vices, taxes on bags. Let’s take a chainsaw to as many taxes as we can.
71R: What can the people of District Four expect should you be elected?
Tucker: If enough of the people of District Four write me in, they can expect me to work many things that would help to reduce the size and scope of government. My major initiatives include establishing 401(k) plans for all new state government employees, slashing spending, cutting taxes and or abolishing as many taxes and regulations as possible, legalizing cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms and reforming the criminal justice system. I would also make the case for Cook County statehood any chance I could.
71R: If someone was interested in getting involved or donating, how can they reach out to your campaign?
Tucker: Folks can reach out to me through my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JustinTuckerforIL) if they want to get involved. Since I don’t want to deal with government authorities, I am not accepting donations; however, I highly recommend donating to Kash Jackson’s campaign for Illinois governor (www.kash2018.com/donate) or to the Libertarian Party of Illinois (www.lpillinois.org/donate).
71R: Do you have any final remarks for the readers?
Tucker: The Libertarian Party is not possible without our candidates, our volunteers and our donors. Please consider volunteering a few hours a week to a Libertarian candidate. Be an activist in your local chapter, or if there aren’t any available, get a few friends together and form a LP chapter yourselves. If you want to share the LP with your neighbors, consider running for office or becoming a precinct committeeman. If you can’t donate your time, please donate your money. Every volunteer hour and every dollar helps us fuel the fires of liberty. Thank you!
I would like to thank Justin Tucker for his time. Be sure to visit his website for more information.
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