Opinion : What Should Liberland Firearms Policy Look Like?

Disclaimer : This article doesn’t necessarily reflect what Liberland will be in the future (changes may occur at many levels), and is not an official statement. Aside from Liberland news, Liberlandpress.com offers opinions from time to time about Liberland’s future organization, to offer a richer spectrum of reflection to our readers. Today, you can read Elijah J. Henry’s article about Liberland’s firearms policy. 

 

Liberland is widely perceived as a libertarian country. Its motto, “To live and let live,” expresses this basic idea. Liberland.org notes that “Liberland prides itself on personal and economic freedom of its people.” The current draft of the Constitution of the Free Republic of Liberland includes a guarantee of personal firearms freedom. Let’s consider libertarian gun policy objectively, and then we’ll see how Liberland stacks up to this ideal.

A libertarian gun policy would involve a strict application of the zero aggression principle, and little-to-no government involvement. What would gun laws look like if these concepts were implemented correctly?

What does a libertarian policy for firearms possession look like? Many jurisdictions require registration of some or all firearms. Other jurisdictions prohibit ownership of certain classes of weapons, such as semi- or fully automatic guns, handguns or large bore rifles (above .50 caliber). Sometimes, a permit is required to own a firearm, and the permit can be a form of registration if the type of weapon or even the serial number is recorded in the permitting process. Membership in a shooting club is a often prerequisite for firearms ownership. A libertarian policy on firearms possession would undoubtedly not involve firearms registration, de facto or otherwise. A registration requirement would be too burdensome with little to no actual benefit (Canada got rid of its own long gun registry in 2012 as it was too expensive to maintain and did not help solve any crimes). There would be no artificial legal distinctions between classes of firearms per the non-aggression principle: if you’re not hurting anyone with the weapon, why shouldn’t you be free to own it? Club membership would never be a condition of firearms ownership, as that would violate the non-aggression principle in the course of violating freedom of association.

What does a libertarian policy for firearms transfer look like? Current laws and proposals in many countries require a background check before a transfer, or they demand that transfers be made through a licensed firearms dealer. Certain classes of people are prohibited from owning firearms, and thus from having them transferred to them. Some jurisdictions restrict the number of firearms purchases or impose a waiting period. A libertarian policy on firearms transfer would generally leave people free to buy, sell, or otherwise transfer firearms without government restrictions on spontaneous or frequent purchases. No license would be necessary to be in the business of selling firearms. Regarding individuals who may not be competent to own a gun: children, criminals, and the mentally ill, there may be restrictions within a libertarian framework. Children would be allowed to operate firearms with the approval of their parents or guardians, as they are in most countries. If an individual has been adjudicated mentally incompetent or dangerous to themselves or others, they could be restricted from purchasing a firearm. A background check system could be made available to anyone who wishes to confirm that their potential buyer has not been legally determined mentally incompetent or dangerous.

What does a libertarian policy for firearms components and accessories look like? Under US law, the receiver of a firearm is considered to be the firearm for legal purposes. However, most other parts are considered accessories and may be freely bought and sold with no restrictions. Magazines are often restricted based on their capacity, with 10, 20 or 30 round limits in some jurisdictions.

Firearms accessories can be anything from an ammo pouch on a buttstock to an optic sight to a suppressor to a forward-mounted pistol grip. Different jurisdictions regulate these in various ways. Suppressors are often treated like firearms, or even as a particular, restricted class of weapons, even though they are just a sound muffler. Some laws restrict cosmetic accessories such as carrying handles, pistol grips or muzzle brakes. These items have no bearing on whether an individual has an inclination to do harm with a weapon. A libertarian policy on firearms components would not distinguish between firearms components, with little to no government interference. Parts and accessories would be legal to buy, sell, or use, without restrictions.

What does a libertarian policy for firearms carry look like? Firearms carry is typically divided artificially into two classes: open carry, and concealed carry. Some jurisdictions (like Florida) restrict open carry while leaving concealed carry freer; others (like Ohio) limit concealed carry and leaving open carry unregulated. Sometimes, open carry is further divided between open carry of long guns and open carry of handguns. Open carry of long guns is the least regulated method of carrying, whether because it is the least common (and thus forgotten by legislators) or out of deference to hunting traditions. A libertarian policy on firearms carry would enforce the non-aggression principle on all sides. So, you would be free to carry either long guns or handguns, either openly or concealed, so long as you refrained from pointing them at other people, displaying them in an aggressive manner or actually threatening others. Owners of a property would be entirely free to set policies restricting carry in whatever manner and to whatever degree they wished on that property.

We’ve seen how libertarian philosophy applies to firearms policies of possession, transfer, carry, components and accessories. In short, the government would take a hands-off approach, minimizing interference, and would focus on actions that hurt other people. Now, let’s look at the Liberland Constitution and see how it aligns with this standard.

Liberland Constitution §XIV.2. All Individuals shall have the right to own, manufacture, sell, transfer, transport, bear and use any small arms, as defined internationally, arms accessories or ammunition, be they historic, contemporary and/or experimental, regardless of condition; no form of licensing and/or registration shall be used to infringe upon these rights; the Person in charge of the premises shall determine whether arms may be carried on such premises except for Agents of Law Enforcement where acting pursuant to, and within the limits of, a Warrant.

It looks like it holds up pretty well, overall. My main hesitation is that it only protects “small arms,” and furthermore leaves that definition to a nebulous and vague international entity or entities. One might reasonably assume that this clause refers to the UN definition. A nation founded on a libertarian conception of freedom can undoubtedly do better than this, but it’s clear that a sincere effort has been made.