The unregulated invisible hand of arms race in the state of nature.
funk at lclark.edu
Thu Apr 16 14:04:04 PDT 2009
Professor Johnson wrote: "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." I think he meant "taking away" all guns, but even
if it were constitutionally and politically possible to take away all guns,
which it isn't (we can't even enact sensible registration laws), it is not
practically possible. Not even close. "Talking" away guns actually seems
about as far as we can go.
Lewis & Clark Law School
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Calvin Johnson
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 8:41 AM
To: Raymond Kessler; Volokh, Eugene; Sanford Levinson;
conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: The unregulated invisible hand of arms race in the state of nature.
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
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
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
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
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 sulross.edu]
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
Thanks for enlightening us. I guess we all need to watch more movies before
posting on issues of public policy and constitutional law. :-)
Prof. of Criminal Justice
Sul Ross State Univ.
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