The Moral Right to Keep and Bear Firearms

Public Affairs Quarterly 29 (4) (2015)
The moral right to keep and bear arms is entailed by the moral right of self-defense. 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 relevant criminological and social science research in addition to the work of other philosophers who have in recent years argued in favor of gun rights. Although we believe the statistical evidence supports our case, our argument is primarily non-consequentialist. We do, however, address consequentialist objections in the last section of this paper.
Keywords gun control  right to keep and bear arms  applied ethics  self-defense  firearms  gun ownership
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