The Moral Right to Keep
and Bear Firearms
by C'Zar Bernstein, Timothy Hsiao, and Matt Palumbo
The moral right to keep and bear arms is entailed by the moral right of selfdefense.
We argue that the ownership and use of firearms is a reasonable
means of exercising these rights. Given their defensive value, there is a strong
presumption in favor of enacting civil rights to keep and bear arms ranging from
handguns to "assault" rifles. Thus states are morally obliged as a matter of justice
to recognize basic liberties for firearm ownership and usage. Throughout this
paper, we build upon the work of other philosophers who have, in recent years,
argued in favor of gun rights. Although we believe the criminological evidence
supports our case, our argument is primarily non-consequentialist. We do, however,
address consequentialist objections.
Our argument can be stated as follows:
1. If x is a reasonable means of self-defense, then people have a prima facie right to be allowed to own x.
2. Firearms are a reasonable means of self-defense.
3. People have a prima facie right to be allowed to own firearms.