Open Carry: Rights and Duties

If you have read any of my other posts about the right to bear arms, you know that I have a strong opinion about what natural law allows in this regard. That being said, so as not to mince words, I will sum up this post with the following equation:

Restaurant/Business = Private property = No right to carry

Restaurants and businesses also have rights–which include refusing business to anyone they choose (although that right is at risk lately, as well). Their decisions are likely to be based on what they think is best for their business. All this talk of open carry “rights” loses it’s meaning when those carrying firearms leave the public areas and enter private property (such as businesses) that belong to someone else. When we do so, we are only carrying at the good pleasure of the business owners and management. Recently, some of those carrying firearms in the open gained attention on media and social networking sites, when they wore out their welcome and forced business decisions.

Even as an advocate for the Second Amendment, I cannot be more clear on this point: THERE WAS NO VIOLATION OF RIGHTS by the restaurants or businesses. Support for 2A has nothing to do with supporting ignorance and potential violations of the rights of others. It is a natural (and secondary) right to carry a firearm, whether open or concealed–because we have the right to protect ourselves from the loss of that which the government cannot restore upon appeal–namely our lives (John Locke, Second Treatise on Government). But duties ALWAYS accompany rights–and we always have a duty to respect and defend the rights of others–this is the price of freedom and especially of entering into society with established laws.

The right to self-defense (and the means necessary for it) do not extend to those places where we are not required to go (e.g., businesses and restaurants) and one right (self-defense) does not permit us to violate the rights of others (private property, peaceful assembly, etc.) as though we were entitled to do whatever we want, whenever we want. If you want to enter someone’s home: ask! If you want someone to allow you to carry a firearm in their business–be polite and demonstrate by your actions that they can trust you with a firearm in their business! That is the difference between the mentalities I have seen in recent weeks–entitlement vs. responsibility. The type of weapon carried is of little concern to me if it still communicates respect for the rights of the people who are allowing you to enter their business. This is the difference between civilized and uncivilized.

If I were not allowed to carry, but concerned for my safety–I would not enter that business. If I felt comfortable entering a business with whatever they allowed me to bring in–I would do business there. That is how my liberty allows me to maintain my rights. If anyone wants to debate a right to carry, they must understand that this right affects only public space (and your own private property)–otherwise it would violate the primary rights of liberty and property, which would also take away from our rights of reasonable means of self-defense to protect life on our own property.

Picture this: Businesses are forced to allow customers to carry firearms into their businesses in the name of rights of self-defense. This would mean, first, that these businesses are REQUIRED to serve people they may not want to serve–this means they are not able to make business decisions for themselves. Their liberty (OUR LIBERTY) to choose would be limited. Second, this would mean that our property (the investment we put into our business and our real property upon which we do business) is not ours to do with as we see fit–to our profit or loss. Instead, we would be forced to allow other people to do things that would threaten our property and prosperity. Third, if we do not have the ability to limit what we are willing to allow people to have (such as firearms) and do (such as holding those firearms in a threatening  or intimidating manner) on private property, then what ability do we have to prevent threats to our lives and property? We would be required by law to allow people to get so close to us with weapons that we would not be permitted to respond until someone’s life will have been lost. This is ridiculous to suppose and violates the very premise that some of these “advocates” of open carry are suggesting as their reasons for carrying firearms–to protect life and property.

The nature of rights is such that one cannot and does not negate another. Any right ends where it violates the rights of another. My right to bear arms ends where it violates the rights of others. I am adamantly in favor of the right to bear arms because it is necessary for the preservation of the rights to life, liberty, and property. But I am for ALL RIGHTS, not only the right to bear arms. If we reject the rights of others to make decisions for themselves on their own property, or in their own businesses, we will have already lost those rights that our arms were intended to protect.

I am glad to see people genuinely interested in protecting and restoring their rights. I am incensed when I see people violating the rights of others. This is why I believe this topic has created such a split among supporters of the Second Amendment–there are those who, like me, see these actions as further violating rights, rather than defending and restoring our rights. Whenever rights are violated, the tendency is to turn towards stricter laws, that often swing in the direction of further limiting freedom. Reason, judgment, and civility are needed to strike an appropriate balance between the duty to preserve rights and the duty to restore rights.

I would encourage everyone involved in advocating for rights to consider three things:

1) The difference between, and purposes of, primary and secondary natural rights.
2) The duties that accompany the rights you wish to preserve or restore.
3) The tendency to forfeit some rights in an attempt to preserve another right.

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