Friday, January 23, 2004

A novel approach to gun control

Boy wonder hacker extraordinaire Aaron Swartz writes, in Lawrence Lessig's blog comments:

On a different note, I’ve never understood the reasoning that causes libertarians to think that restrictions on personal freedom, when called “property” (or something similar), not only become OK but something to be championed. I can see why a principled libertarian might conclude that “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” is the best way to protect personal freedom, but it seems awfully bizarre to attack something like “increasing fair use”, since I can’t think of any reason such increases could hurt the freedom of authors.

To get away from the First Amendment, try this hypothetical: The Federal Weapons Commission was established to propertize the bullet-spectrum. They’re holding an auction to sell off the right to control certain bullet sizes. The winner gets to say how, where, and when bullets of that size may be used. (All other sizes, of course, are prohibited.) Oh, isn’t that funny — the gun control activists are buying up lots of the bullet sizes.

But hey! It’s property rights, not gun control, so it’s good. I’m sure glad those crazy Marxists didn’t convince us to adopt their “bullet commons” approach where you could sell guns that used whatever size bullet you wanted. It’s obvious that the auction system is much better for freedom.

For the record, I don't have terribly strong feelings either way about gun control. Washington has right-to-carry laws, and I may get a gun someday (for self-defense, and just to learn how to shoot). The point Schwartz is making is about the propertization of the electromagnetic broadcast spectrum, and the weird inconsistency of many libertarians on this subject (and many others involving various forms of "commons", including commons of intellectual property).

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