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Who should Own Nuclear Weapons

November 25th 2005

Who should Own Nuclear Weapons

Mike Gilson-De Lemos

Conservatives (and Libertarians) should understand what positions are actually in place courtesy of the Republicans and Democrats before criticizing the Libertarians. It is also important to distinguish between Libertarian ideology (e.g. natural law) implications and the actual positions of the LP, which of necessity focus on issues in the public radar. the LP has no position on the subject: many people have 'problems' with the LP such as our writer based on mistaken assumptions about what the LP advocates heard from their conservative or liberal friends, not what the Executive Summary platform actually says.

For example, Libertarianism implies a strong local citizen run militia with abolition of the authoritarian military. This is the ideal set forth by Jefferson and also the stated goal of the US since Eisenhower. Neither is a government function per se; the action of the militia is derivative from jury or other findings of right, and one can easily conceive of effective and well defended societies without a military (but with an even unarmed militia e.g. the Vatican).

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There is presently no law against private ownership of nuclear weapons. What does exist is a crazy quilt of government regulations, such as prohibitions on owning certain materials. There is certainly no Constitutional authority on the subject, except that States may not own such weapons without Federal permission.

Libertarianism implies simply that nuclear weapons, along with all weapons, should be privately owned, and kept in a safe place according to common practice (set by the consensus of juries, not legislatures, whose job in common law is to set guidelines) , actual possession likely being in e.g. community armories. Such ownership serves as a valuable check against central ownership by tyrants and all that implies e.g. Chernobyl.

Some communities have acted to limit private ownership of nuclear weapons: in California, several cities have set a fine of $500 for exploding atom bombs in city limits. The Federal government, in contrast, limits liability for nuclear explosions caused by private entities such as power plants, which last I looked was capped at $10- million. The military is exempt from liability for loss of weapons; there is evidence that the US is missing large amounts of nuclear and other material yearly.

Compare this to a society with a more Libertarian ethic of private ownership and strict, pre-bonded liability.

The LP has no position on the subject per se, most LP members considering that this is not a primary issue: as Libertarianism spreads across the world, most WMD's will be stored where they belong in a peaceful society: museum exhibits of the barbarism of the past.

See my unusual tale on the subject: The Libertarian Chocolate Covered Neutron Bomb.


By Michael Gilson-De Lemos
Mike is a freelance Writer living in Florida

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