A Free-Market Case for Gun-Control
The House just passed HR 8 and HR 1446, both expanded gun measures that enhance background checks and close several loopholes. As a free-marketeer, I find these to be very free-market friendly pieces of legislation. However, how on earth would gun control ever be considered a pro-market position? Here’s how.
The gun industry is a prime, rare example of a laissez-faire market that’s present in America. Yes, the degree of gun market regulations vary from state to state. Yet, on a international scale, the United States has one of the most unregulated gun industries in the developed world. That’s a problem.
Understanding The Role of Government
Markets cannot be left to themselves. That’s because a well-functioning market system is neither self-executing nor self-sustaining. In order for a market to properly exist, the government needs to establish a clear, legal, framework where businesses can grow to their maximum potential. What actually makes the market free is when there are no distortions created by subsidies, bailouts, excessive rules, tariffs, wealth destroying taxes, and state-owned enterprises.
Markets are free, not when they are unregulated, but when the rules that define them allow for wide freedom of action along a number of key dimensions: free entry, free exit, freely moving prices, free trade across national boundaries, freedom to hire and fire, freedom to take a job or quit, freedom to introduce new products or production methods without prior permission, and freedom to invest.
This understanding of free markets is needed for knowing how to handle the American gun industry.
A Unique Situation
Currently, the government is overdoing its framework responsibility in many sectors of the economy — from healthcare, to banking, all the way to aviation. Excessive frameworks have caused those industries to become less of a free-market and more of a corporatist style of capitalism. A free-marketeer’s response to the handling of these industries would not be more regulation, but less of it. In addition to eliminating subsidies, closing corporate loopholes, and ending corporatist involvement. All in the effort to establish and build real, free-markets within these sectors of the economy.
Yet, it’s in the total reverse with the gun industry — the government is actually under-doing its own framework responsibility. Too little regulation has effectively done the same in making the gun industry less of a free-market, but now more of a laissez-faire style of capitalism. One could argue that corporatism has also ensured this laissez-faire status through the NRA’s buying off of politicians — they’d be correct.
The American gun industry’s unique laissez-faire status and the government’s inability to establish a needed, legal framework have created serious consequences. In the most laissez-faire gun regions of the country, gun violence is higher. The 2019 El Paso Walmart attack and 2018 Parkland attack are just two examples of this. States with properly regulated gun markets show opposite results.
A Free-Market Solution
It might seem contradictive, yet the federal government is actually going to have to clamp down on getting regulations in place for it to build a free-market with guns. These regulations shouldn’t get overly excessive, as some social democrats aim to impose damaging, outright gun bans. Instead, these regulations need to be commonsense in nature to allow for public safety, reality, and fairness to be brought into the government’s framework.
The government should replicate very strong free-market gun industries in other countries — like in Sweden or Canada. Both countries have very clear demands existing for guns, so a market exist to meet those demands.
America doesn’t have to and shouldn’t reject or destroy its history on loving guns. There are millions of responsible, gun owners in our country — the government’s framework should recognize that. America should remain and grow as a bastion for gun-ownership — in addition to having the world’s best firearm laws.
- Establish universal background checks for all gun purchases
- Prohibit individuals on the “no-fly” list from obtaining a firearm
- Prohibit individuals convicted of a misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing a firearm
- Prohibit individuals facing arrest warrants from purchasing and possessing firearms
- Prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing firearms
- Prohibit individuals suffering from mental illness from purchasing or possessing firearms
- End the online sale of firearms and ammunition
- Prohibit the purchase of certain firearms under 21 years of age
- Prohibit the illegal modification of firearms — banning bump stocks
- Require the completion of an instruction course to obtain a license prior to purchasing a firearm
These are not radical solutions. These are common sense solutions. They are even free-market solutions.
Markets are not free when they are overly regulated. Markets are also not free when they are too little regulated. An overly done framework enables corporate capitalism. An underly done framework enables laissez-faire capitalism. A just-perfect framework enables free-market capitalism.
Most economic industries are currently over regulated, distorted, and corporatist. Yet, the gun industry is a rare example of where regulations are too weak and opaque.
Free-marketeers understand this and support effective, gun-control measures that would bring the gun industry up to free-market standards. An industry where gun ownership is still a free right, but with regulations in place to enhance safety and prevent crime.
That’s why a free-market policy for firearms is needed — one that balances public safety, gun control, and freedom.