The discussion on gun control on the thread before last took an unexpected turn, with JP Scholten asking whether it would not be logically consistent for gun rights advocates to concede that all countries should have the right to possess nuclear weapons. After all, one of the points that is repeatedly made is that guns are necessary to 'even the score' - the weak and the vulnerable, the argument goes, can only properly defend themselves against the physically strong with the help of a firearm. By the same token, JP Scholten asks, how are weaker countries supposed to defend themselves against the might of America by any other means than nuclear firepower? Presumably, Kevin Baker and his disciples would not be terribly comfortable with the idea of America being 'stopped' at all (especially at the possible expense of their own lives), but given their moral certainties it's hard to see how they could credibly take issue with the proposition that countries should have the right to defend themselves by any means that prove necessary.
Now, this is indeed a fascinating question, and Nate gave a very interesting and surprising answer (essentially that all countries bar a few should be entitled to a nuclear capability). But I think there's an even more fascinating question to be asked, and indeed I asked it of Joe Huffman last year - isn't the logical conclusion of the gun advocates' philosophy that any weapon, regardless of its potency, be available to ordinary people? To spell it out, doesn't it follow that private citizens should be permitted to possess nuclear weapons? That might seem an absurd suggestion at first glance, but unless someone can provide a serious answer to it, it seems to me that it in fact drives a coach and horses through one of the articles of faith of the American gun rights fundamentalists - namely that a government that deprives its citizens of the right to possess any given weapon will eventually turn that weapon on its citizens, who will be left defenceless. So, obvious question - come the presumably inevitable day that the US government turns its stockpile of nuclear weapons on the American people, how will the Second Amendment and the right to retaliate with puny guns be of any help?
Whenever I've asked this question in the past, all I've heard back is that such a scenario is a "grandiose fantasy". That's as maybe, but it's also a scrupulously logical extension of the fundamentalists' own philosophy. So does anyone have a more satisfactory answer? I take it no-one is going to be crazy enough to actually welcome private ownership of nuclear weapons, since a touching faith in the general goodwill and trustworthiness of 'decent, law-abiding citizens' isn't going to be good enough when it would only take one rogue individual to cause the deaths of untold millions.
Lesson - there isn't a state in the world that doesn't restrict its citizens' right to own weapons, and it's impossible to credibly argue against the rationality of that principle. Negative freedoms must have their limits, otherwise by the wonders of modern technology everyone would end up dead. The only question is how far those restrictions should go - but that's not a question that will appeal much to those who don't like to view the world in shades of grey rather than black and white.