Nukes in a free society II

Having read my original post about nukes again, and after talking with my co-blogger Brian, it is clear that the last part of my post was a bit mangled, likely giving the wrong message.

My main points were:

1) Nukes cannot be justly owned by anyone in a free society, as they are equivalent to the barrel of a gun pointing at anyone within many miles of them, and as such are a direct threat to their lives and property.

2) Thus, nobody, not even governments (nuclear monopolies) may rightly own them.

3) To get to a such a society where nuclear monopolies are not tolerated requries power at the periphery and individual liberty like the kind portrayed in Vinge's short story The Ungoverned. In that kind of society, nukes might be used sporadically but very rarely and only under the strain of completely secrecy. That society is likely safer than our world today, which is one or two zealots in government executive offices away from total nuclear annhilation.

When I speak of the false dichotomy between liberty and security, I mean liberty in a very precise way. There is no liberty to own a nuke that threatens the lives and properties of your neighbors by its very existence; this would be tantamount to the nonsensical 'freedom' to attack your neighbors. Rather, I speak of the liberty to self-determination that comes when your safety is not threatened by the existence of nukes owned by anyone, including nuclear monopolies. In such a world, individuals would by definition have more liberty, and by consequence, more security.

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even if points 1 & 2 were

even if points 1 & 2 were conceded, point #3 is unrealistic. Most governments will not disarm their nuclear weapons once acquired. And when one is used, it won't be a secret.

forget nuclear weapons for now. Does the 2nd amendment allow my neighbor to possess a rocket propelled grenade or a container of anthrax?

I find this argument similar to the freedom of the press vs internet blogs, where there was no way for the founding fathers to understand the direction and impact technology would have. Fortunately we have a Supreme Court that will evolve interpretations of the Constitution to incorporate these changes.

Back around a year or two

Back around a year or two ago, I wrote a natural rights piece on private ownership of nuclear weapons. It boiled down to nearly the same thing you mention, a nuke in the garage is much like a gun in my face. But there is the argument that any weapon can be owned and trying to find the dividing line between too big and scary and sufficient for a serious defense leads to weapons prohibitions like the "scary" rifle bans in California. The solution I came up with was based on restitution. If you could demonstrate that you could pay for all the potential damage, then you can have it. Of course, that means even Bill Gates won't be keeping nukes in the burbs or in cities. It also means that you'll likely need insurance, and you can bet that you will have to demonstrate extreme safety and psychological wellness to get the insurance.

Keep all the rocket propelled grenades you want, just store them safely and away from the property line. I do not know why one would want anthrax around, it is worthless for defense and suicidal in the offense.

What about the case of a

What about the case of a futuristic society in which individuals live with no neighbors closer than thousands of miles away? Say, curmudgeonly asteroid miners living in the asteroid belt?

So in principle, if I own a

So in principle, if I own a large enough piece of property that the use of nukes would only effect me I have a right to have them for use in self-defense?

I think this is one of the absurdist elements of a right to bear arms, how do you define arms? Prima facie it seems anyone can have any weapon as long as it can conceivably be used in self-defense. The most effective weaponry the natural rights crowd had to contend with back in the day was a musket, in an age of advanced weaponry it is nearly impossible to justify such a position without seeming to be an extremist. In principle it seems perfectly rational to say that people have a right to defend themselves with arms, but in the real world it gets rather ugly.

So in principle, if I own a

So in principle, if I own a large enough piece of property that the use of nukes would only effect me I have a right to have them for use in self-defense?

Of course. If there is no chance of hurting anyone other than an attacker on your property, why not?

What about the case of a

What about the case of a futuristic society in which individuals live with no neighbors closer than thousands of miles away? Say, curmudgeonly asteroid miners living in the asteroid belt?

Sounds fine to me. No longer is the 'barrel of a gun' pointed at anyone else.