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Why Gun Control Laws Are Futile

Whether you gets your news from the mainstream or just from browsing the social media it’s been impossible to avoid that political catchphrase “gun control” lately. The idea is that the government, to prevent mass shootings like those in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO, must “do something” via legislation (or heck, just a few dictatorial Executive Orders). Exactly what they should “do” according to pundits ranges from limiting the size of a magazines to stricter background check or banning semi-automatic weapons. All of these ideas rest on the false assumption that the government, through central planning, can solve the problem of violence in society.

This is due to the economic calculation problem as described by Ludwig Von Mises. In Epistemological Problems of Economics, Von Mises writes:

Without the aid of monetary calculation, bookkeeping, and the computation of profit and loss in terms of money, technology would have had to confine itself to the simplest, and therefore the least productive, methods.

Von Mises was referring to the production of goods in an economy, not necessarily defensive services. But as Murray Rothbard would later expand upon the ideas of Von Mises, he would come to the conclusion that defense and safety are a “good” just like anything else. From For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto:

It was the fallacy of the classical economists to consider goods and services in terms of large classes; instead, modern economics demonstrates that services must be considered in terms of marginal units. For all actions on the market are marginal. If we begin to treat whole classes instead of marginal units, we can discover a great myriad of necessary, indispensable goods and services all of which might be considered as “preconditions” of market activity

Quite simply, there is no logical reason that the State, a coercive monopoly on violence, would have any sort of advantage in the marketplace in terms of keeping people safe. The marginal units of safety, just like the marginal units of any other product, good or service, is best achieved through economic calculation, not central planning.

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