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Volume 29 • Number 4

October 2015



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.

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ISSN: 2152-0542