Quote of the day–Richard K. Willard

The link between handgun legality and aggregate crime levels has little constitutional significance. The purpose of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is to allow individuals to privately protect themselves, not to reduce overall crime rates or curb gun-related accidents. … The framers knew that an individual right to keep and bear arms would carry with it the risks of crime and accidents, just as an individual right to speak freely carries with it the risk of libel. Faced with these trade-offs, the framers deliberately chose a form of government that can accept such risks as the price for protecting individual liberties.


Richard K. Willard
February 11, 2008
D.C. versus Heller
Brief Amicus Curiae Of The Heartland Institute in support of respondent
[This one is for Lyle. Who, rightly so, says safety is irrelevant to the constitutionality issue.–Joe]

1 thought on “Quote of the day–Richard K. Willard

  1. Right on, right on, right on.

    If safety from accidents and crime were the purpose of government, think long and carefully of what would or should be restricted or banned. Recreational boats and motorcycles would rank very high on the list, along with swimming pools and fire starters. If we don’t mind diving onto the third rail of leftist politics, we’d have to consider restricting and registering promiscuous sex, especially gay promiscuity, as a means of combating AIDS and other STD problems. Yet even some on the left would make the argument, correctly, that our personal behavior is not subject to government interference. They just can’t understand that the same argument applies to the type of light bulbs we use, the type of car we drive, whether we choose to wear seatbelts or helmets, and so on.

    It bears repeating that justice is not the same thing as safety. They are altogether different concepts. Our justice system, properly, is a ban on mob retaliation in favor of predictable and controlled retaliation by the state. Like it or not (and I understand there are those who dislike it) justice is what happens after the fact. Though justice may have, and thankfully so, a chilling effect on crime, it is not and can never be a means of preventing crime by making criminal behavior physically impossible. To the extent that a properly functioning justices system makes us safer, it is a byproduct, a secondary result, of that system.

    Our real problem, even among libertarians and even if we avoid being side-tracked by statistics, is in the grey areas of civilization. Reckless endangerment– driving too fast for the conditions or driving under the influence thereby representing an unacceptable danger to other drivers is one possible example. Carrying a gun, certainly, and that goes for any type of firearm, comes nowhere close to this sort of grey area however, as the gun in a holster, on a wall, in a closet etc., is a functionally inert object.

    Just as with your car, it is the use of the gun (or the knife, or the matches) that is either good, or bad, or neutral. None of us would argue against a law or ordinance prohibiting the discharge of guns in certain places (like a soccer stadium or a town square) unless in self defense for example. No free citizens may be banned from merely keeping such things just because they could in theory at some point do something stupid or illegal with them.

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