The unregulated invisible hand of arms race in the state of nature.

Bob Sheridan rs at
Thu Apr 16 10:12:03 PDT 2009

Sounds as though you've described the forerunner to the nuclear arms 
race. Since every nation enjoys a right of self-defense, nations like 
North Korea, Iran, Israel, the Russians and former USSR, France, 
Britain, Pakistan, India, Britain, and who knows who I left out all 
similarly either want nuclear arms of their own or want to be under the 
nuclear umbrella of those who have; Japan comes to mind.

Yet we see great efforts over decades to stop the nuclear arms race, 
with its assurance of mutually assured destruction, if not by 
rationalists than by irrationalists.

Lord protect us from both camps.

There must be a sane middle ground.

I understand that Texas is in the middle of a debate over concealed 
carry in the classroom. Calvin must surely have heard about that. 
Someone asked me to contribute last minute to that debate on 
constitutional aspects but I politely declined, not having much to 
offer. Seems to me on reflection that if the Texas legislature wants to 
pass a law enabling concealed carry of firearms in their classrooms, 
they can do so, just as they can prohibit concealed carry in their 
churches if they want, as a matter of constitutional law.


Calvin Johnson wrote:
> Eugene-
> There is an inevitable “nash equilibrium” on guns and more lethal 
> weapons, in the state of nature, which is a degradation of our 
> situation. I do believe that Adam Smith is right, or at least must be 
> given his due within a broad range. The unregulated free market will 
> lead to a supply of goods that satisfies varying demands. But In arms 
> control, the invisible hand in a libertarian setting inevitable makes 
> all of us worse off.
> Start with a peaceable land in which no guns are allowed or none have 
> been invented. Yes there is violence and occasional murder or 
> manslaughter(alcohol having been invented), but a a low level. A 
> defensive home owner buys a gun for comparative advantage to prevent 
> being beaten up by club or stabbed, and the gun then becomes generally 
> available for sale. Now neighbors hostile to each other must buy guns 
> to keep up with the guy with guns. Now there are a lot more deaths 
> because guns kill faster, both by accident and on purpose then clubs. 
> Both sides would have been better off without guns. Each in pursuit of 
> their own security has decreased the sum of security in the 
> neighborhood. Both of course would be better off moving to a 
> neighborhood where there are no guns, except of course, the guns will 
> follow.
> The more guns the more deaths. Now we are told you can not bring a gun 
> to a machine gunfight, so everyone needs to upgrade from AK 47 to 50 
> calibre.
> The libertarian self protection inevitable leads to a more dangerous 
> overall position because each side increases the total insecurity of 
> the system in trying to increase their own security.
> The way to improve the sum of human happiness and safety is government 
> intervention, talking away all guns. Then we return to the peaceable 
> kingdom. Government intervention into invisible hand situation that 
> impfove the world do harm, but government intervention into invisible 
> hand situations that reduce total security, will increase total security.
> Whatever the 2d amendment was about it is fair that the Founders were 
> not trying to decrease individual safety, as unfettered arm’s races do.
> Calvin H. Johnson
> Andrews & Kurth Centennial Professor of Law
> The University of Texas School of Law
> 727 E. Dean Keeton (26th) St.
> Austin, TX 78705
> (512) 232-1306 (voice)
> FAX: (512) 232-2399
> Website:
> For reviews, chapters, discounts and news on Johnson, /Righteous Anger 
> at the Wicked States: The Meaning of the Founders Constitution/ 
> (Cambridge University Press 2005) see 
> *From:* Raymond Kessler [mailto:rkessler at]
> *Sent:* Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:03 AM
> *To:* Calvin Johnson; 'Volokh, Eugene'; Sanford Levinson
> *Subject:* RE: The function of interpreting the 2d Amendment as guns 
> outside the national guard
> Calvin:
> Thanks for enlightening us. I guess we all need to watch more movies 
> before posting on issues of public policy and constitutional law. J
> Ray Kessler
> Prof. of Criminal Justice
> Sul Ross State Univ.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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