For Public Safety, We Need Less Government, Not More

by Harry Browne

(From The Great Libertarian Offer, published in 2000.)

Politicians have been congratulating themselves that crime rates fell during the 1990s.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean you can safely walk the streets late at night as you once could in most parts of most American cities. Nor does it mean you can leave your front door unlocked as once was the rule in America.

As we can see from the graph below, the murder rate in America is still almost 50% higher than it was in the 1950s.

In 1943, there were 44 homicides in New York City. In 1995, with roughly the same population, New York City had 1,499 homicides and this was celebrated as an improvement. {1}

The truth is that our cities are still unsafe.

Liberal politicians say the crime problem is caused by widespread poverty. But the federal government has thrown trillions of dollars at poverty in the past 30 years while the crime rate continued to rise. By contrast, the crime rate fell dramatically during the poverty-stricken Great Depression of the 1930s.

Conservative politicians say the crime problem stems from lenient judges, the coddling of criminals, and a lack of prisons. But the prison population quadrupled between 1980 and 1997. How many people have to be locked up to make America safe?

How do we reduce crime without the same old futile proposals for more prisons, tougher laws, more federal handouts, higher taxes, more trampling on the Bill of Rights?

Why Crime-Fighting Is Ineffective

To answer that question we first have to ask: Why is crime such a problem?

Primarily because we rely so much on government for law enforcement.

Government is government. It doesn't matter whether government is performing a function you want it to perform or one you think it should avoid. Anything government does will be organized, financed, and carried out using force not just force against criminals, but force against taxpayers and innocent bystanders. Any program based on force will be inefficient, expensive, misdirected, and intrusive of individual liberty.

It doesn't matter how conscientious the crime fighters are, government by its nature can't be very efficient at anything. It never has been and it never will be.

Even where you believe government must be utilized, you should minimize its role and maximize reliance on individual citizens acting voluntarily.

That's the key. Crime rates were much lower when we relied far less on government and far more on individuals acting in their own self-interest.

And if we want to bring back the safety of those times, we need to make big changes in five areas. Each of them involves a reduction in government, not an increase.

1. STOP DISARMING INNOCENT CITIZENS

There was a time in America when criminals had to fear law-abiding citizens. If a criminal thought about attacking someone on the street, he had no way of knowing whether his victim was armed. If a criminal wanted to rob someone's home, he had to wonder whether the homeowner would meet him with a gun.

But the ability of innocent people to defend themselves and repel attacks has been vanishing steadily thanks to misguided gun-control laws.

These criminal-friendly laws include federal, state, and local requirements that you wait several days before touching a gun you've purchased, age restrictions on gun purchases, prohibitions on mail-order sales, gun registration or licensing, and mandatory gun locks.

As a result of these restrictions, gun ownership didn't increase during the 1960s and 1970s, and violent crime did. Consequently, innocent citizens have become more and more at a disadvantage to criminals.

Concealed-carry Laws

But the late 1980s saw a new development. In 1987 Florida passed a law that allowed anyone who met certain minimal qualifications to carry a concealed weapon. Other states followed suit and by early 2000, 31 states had such laws.

The laws act as a deterrent to street muggers and rapists who have to wonder whether an intended victim is carrying a weapon. And they provide the means to fight back when a vengeful or deranged person opens fire on people in a public place.

In 1996 law professor John R. Lott, Jr., and economist David B. Mustard published an extensive study of these laws. Examining the period 1977 through 1992, they found that states with "concealed-carry" laws have significantly less violent crime, with no increase in accidental gun deaths.

A similar study was made by the Cato Institute, which found that the 24 states that had concealed-carry laws in 1992 had 7.7% fewer murders, 5.2% fewer rapes, 2.2% fewer robberies, and 7% fewer assaults. The report concluded that if such laws had been in effect in every state, there would have been 1,414 fewer murders, 4,177 fewer rapes, and 60,363 fewer assaults nationwide in 1992.

Understandably, some people fear that someone carrying a weapon might shoot an innocent person by accident or in anger at a traffic accident, for example. But in the 14 years since the first concealed-carry law was passed, there is no reported incident of someone with a concealed-carry permit wrongfully killing anyone in anger or by accident.

And there are thousands of examples in which someone carrying a gun has stopped a crime or defended himself against attack.

For example, in October 1997 a gunman went on a shooting spree at a high school in Pearl, Mississippi. He killed two students and could have shot many more. But an assistant principal ran to his car, got his gun, and kept the gunman at bay until the police arrived. How many lives do you suppose were saved?

Contrast this with the 1991 mass shooting in Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. Suzanna Gratia Hupp was in the restaurant at the time. She had a concealed-carry permit in her home state, but she wasn't carrying her handgun because at that time it was illegal to do so in Texas. So everyone in Luby's was unarmed except for the murderer, who was free to kill eight people including Suzanna's mother and father. Four years later, Texas passed a concealed-carry law, and there have been no mass shootings since. Had the law been effect in 1991, Suzanna Gratia Hupp could have saved her parents' lives.

The greatest benefits of concealed-carry laws are bestowed on the people who are society's most vulnerable. Women, the disabled, the elderly, and the weak have always been easy prey for muggers and other predators. But would-be attackers in states with concealed-carry laws know that any potential victim might be carrying a handgun. As Barbara Goushaw has pointed out, "Handguns are a girl's best friend."

One great advantage of a concealed-carry law is that you don't have to own a gun to benefit from the law. As long as some people are carrying concealed weapons, criminals have to fear that you are one of them.

Gun Control

The concealed-carry laws cut against the trend of ever-expanding gun-control laws. While concealed-carry laws empower some innocent citizens, gun-control laws disarm others making them easy prey for criminals who carry whatever weapons they please. After all, criminals don't care about permits, gun registration, or buying through legal channels. They steal the guns they want or buy them from other criminals.

Gun-control advocates believe their laws will prevent deaths. And they are fond of saying that if just one child's life is saved, it's worth all the intrusions on your liberty.

But they overlook the lives saved by citizens who brandish a gun at an attacker or intruder. A 1994 Department of Justice study estimated that guns interrupt or avert about 1.5 million crimes each year. That translates into not just one child's life, but thousands of lives that guns save each year.

For example, someone telephoned Doug Stanton to tell him that a man who once had stalked Mrs. Stanton was on his way to the Stanton house. Sure enough, the stalker arrived in the driveway, holding a pistol and wearing a bullet-proof vest.

He shot at the back door, kicked it open, and sprayed bullets into the kitchen. Stanton fired two shots at the attacker with his .45 automatic. The intruder staggered, despite his bullet-proof vest, and then fled. He was captured by the police shortly afterward.

As Doug Stanton said, "Because the Stanton family had a gun, six lives were saved. Had there been restrictions on gun ownership, the Stantons would be dead. This is a fact, not a hypothetical situation."

How many children at Columbine High School would have been saved if one of the teachers had a gun close by? When a lunatic starts shooting in a restaurant, how many lives could be saved if just one customer has a concealed weapon?

How many women could have saved themselves from rape, kidnapping, or recreational torture by carrying a gun?

It's nice that gun-control advocates talk about saving the lives of children. But it's not nice when their own distaste for guns forces disarmament on the people who could save the lives of children.

Gun-control laws make the world safer for criminals, and less safe for you.

Politicians Don't Believe in Gun Control

When politicians say they favor gun control, they mean they favor it for you not for themselves.

If you should visit the Capitol Building in Washington, notice how many guards are carrying guns. The politicians say you must be disarmed to make America safer, but they don't disarm government employees.

Members of the federal agencies that protect politicians are always well armed. But it doesn't stop there. Employees of the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and many other agencies now carry guns.

If guns cause crime, why do so many government employees have them? Maybe they have a compelling need to carry guns, but is it more compelling than your need to defend your home and family against criminals?

Who Needs What Guns?

Gun-control laws have been disarming America inch by inch. Any one step may seem reasonable (if you don't look at it too closely), but the cumulative effect has been to put innocent Americans at a dangerous disadvantage to criminals.

For example, it might seem reasonable to say that individuals should have the right to own handguns (with appropriate restrictions like gun locks, registration, and such), but who needs such things as assault weapons or mortars?

Maybe you don't. But some people do.

During most riots, the police have been outnumbered and have intentionally stayed clear of gangs that were looting and vandalizing. Suppose your life savings are invested in a store the gangs are about to loot. And suppose you have little or no insurance because your store is in a dangerous section of town. How will you defend the store against the looters? With a knife? With a handgun against a dozen attackers? Or with an assault weapon?

If you prevent innocent citizens from acquiring assault weapons, criminal gangs will still acquire them even if they have to smuggle them into America from thousands of miles away. So why pass laws that disarm only the innocent?

You might be able to imagine the perfect law that allows just the right people to own just the right types of guns, while prohibiting other citizens from owning inappropriate firearms. But remember, you're only imagining such a law; it will never be a reality. Once the issue is turned over to the politicians, it will be decided by whoever has the most political influence and that will never be you or me.

The only valid policy is to have no laws regulating the ownership of guns, but to hold every citizen responsible for whatever harm he initiates against others with or without a gun.

As always, you really have only two choices. Either:

  • Politicians will decide what people can own and they will never stop their prohibitions at the point you believe best. Or . . .

  • People will decide for themselves what they can own.

Any apparent middle ground between the two actually gives the politicians the power to do as they please.

And all such decisions will be made on the basis of who has the most political influence. So attempts to limit gun ownership do more to promote the political interests of well-connected people than to reduce crime.

No More Laws

Gun owners have fought back against gun-control laws, but ineffectively.

The gun-grabbers exploit every well-publicized shooting to advocate another new gun-control law even if unrestricted gun ownership would have prevented the shooting, and even if the shooter was breaking existing gun-control laws.

Gun-control laws don't stop criminals from acquiring guns. And it weakens the case for gun ownership if we call for existing gun laws to be better enforced before passing new laws. This implies that the existing laws have merit.

They don't. Such laws have caused people to die when a waiting period has kept someone from acquiring a gun to scare off a stalker or a gun-lock requirement prevented someone from using a gun in time to stop an intruder or attacker.

If we want Americans to be safer, we need to take the offensive and repeal all the gun-control legislation on the books. Criminals will have no more guns than they do already, but it will allow Americans to defend themselves and it will probably inspire a number of criminals to seek a safer line of work.

Restoring your Right to Defend Yourself

The 2nd amendment to the Constitution says:

  1. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There are arguments over whether this means only a duly authorized state militia has the right to keep and bear arms even though when the amendment was passed, there were no restrictions on anyone's right to keep and bear arms.

But the arguments are irrelevant. The 9th amendment states clearly that the Constitution does not deprive anyone of the right to keep and bear arms:

  1. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Nothing in the Constitution authorizes Congress to limit gun ownership, and so the right to defend ourselves is "retained by the people."

Unfortunately, politicians only talk about the Constitution, they don't respect it. And we aren't going to secure your right to defend yourself by pushing this issue in isolation.

We must show Americans the harm that comes to their own lives when any Constitutional right is violated the right to say unpopular things, to practice unpopular religions, to defend yourself against predators, to be safe against vindictive cops and prosecutors, to keep your property safe against demagogues invoking the "public good," to have all your rights secured by strict adherence to the Constitution.

If you're a gun owner, you are always on the defensive defending some weapon as legitimate, and then watching as your favorite politician agrees to a compromise that takes more of your freedom from you.

Your only hope is a President and Congress who believe the right to bear arms isn't a negotiable issue that it's one of many fundamental Constitutional rights that can't be traded away.

You have to support candidates who believe in the entire Constitution, not just in the 2nd amendment. You need champions who will go on the offensive who will say there are far too many laws in America, and that we must repeal all the useless, oppressive, dangerous, unconstitutional laws passed in the last 70 years, including those that limit the right to bear arms.

You will restore the right to keep and bear arms only when we put the gun-control advocates on the defensive.

And we will make America safer only when we end the government's ability to disarm innocent citizens.

Less government means less crime.

2. GET THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OUT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

All crime is local. It occurs in the jurisdiction of a police department or sheriff's department somewhere. The Founding Fathers wisely provided no Constitutional role for the federal government regarding common crimes of any kind.

But, of course, the politicians never lose sleep over Constitutional limitations. They have passed federal laws against carjacking, vandalism, "hate crimes," kidnapping, discrimination, fraud, pornography, gun ownership, drugs, and almost anything some politician doesn't happen to like.

A federal police force provides no additional safety for you. Local-law enforcement agencies help each other capture fugitives, share fingerprints, and otherwise cooperate across state lines. They don't need federal police to help them protect you.

In fact, a federal police force makes you less safe. The federal government's involvement in law enforcement gives politicians another excuse to spend more of your money, it gives federal bureaucrats the power to dictate politically correct polices to your local police department, and it does more damage to your Constitutional liberties.

The Founding Fathers would be shocked to see today's federal police forces such as the FBI, the BATF, and the DEA. They explicitly warned against giving the federal government the power to deal with common crimes. They knew that federal police forces could lead to events like the BATF-FBI massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco, and the shooting of an innocent woman and her child at Ruby Ridge.

Loading up the Bills

Every federal law includes intrusive and expensive provisions you never hear about. Crime bills are no exception.

After the Columbine High School massacre, the House of Representatives passed the "Juvenile Crime Bill" supposedly to reduce teenage violence.

Conservatives supported the bill because they didn't notice its gun-control provisions, and probably because they didn't want to appear insensitive in the midst of a supposed crisis.

Liberals supported the bill because they didn't notice that it gave the government more power to use warrantless wiretaps, allowed police to intercept messages going to your pager, promoted drug-testing of all school children, and gave increased immunity to police who might commit violent crimes against you.

As usual, the politicians had practically no idea what they were voting on.

Not only is federal law enforcement dangerous, it is very expensive. As with any other kind of bill, the politicians see anti-crime bills as opportunities to enact unrelated programs for their political allies.

For example, Bill Clinton made a big show of a proposal for the federal government to pay for 100,000 new local patrolmen. The final version of the law, passed in 1994, appropriated $8.8 billion for the new policemen along with a load of non-crime goodies for anyone with the political clout to get on the gravy train.

In 1999, the Inspector General's Office audited the program. It found that all the subsidies had been duly paid, but where were the cops? Only about 40,000 had been added to the nation's police forces.

The President often congratulates himself on the success of this program. He thinks so highly of it that in 1999 he asked Congress to appropriate another $6.4 billion to put an additional 50,000 cops on the streets by 2005.

Getting the federal government out of local law enforcement will mean less government, not more and it will reduce the cost of local law enforcement, reduce your taxes, restore many of the liberties you've lost, and make your neighborhood safer.

Once again, less government means less crime.

3. REPEAL ALL ASSET FORFEITURE LAWS

Asset forfeiture laws allow government agents federal, state, or local  to seize your property if they suspect it may have been related to a crime.

It doesn't matter that the property was only incidental to the crime. It doesn't matter that you didn't commit the crime. It doesn't matter that you didn't even know a crime was occurring or perhaps saw the crime and risked your life trying to prevent it. It doesn't matter that no one is ever convicted of the crime or even charged with the crime. It doesn't even matter that no crime actually occurred. If government agents suspect that your property might have been related, however remotely, to a crime that might have occurred, even if you had no knowledge it was occurring, the agents can seize the property.

For example, if drug warriors learn that your child's friend brought a marijuana cigarette into your home without your knowledge, your house could be seized under the asset forfeiture laws.

Roughly 80% of the people who lose property to seizures are never charged with a crime. All of them have to sue the government to get their property back.

At the federal level, asset forfeiture is used by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the IRS, the FBI, the Coast Guard, the Postal Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Department of Health & Human Services, the Food & Drug Administration, the Customs Service, the Immigration & Naturalization Service, and the Department of Housing & Urban Development. And over 3,000 state and local governments have their own forfeiture laws.

Although the laws were enacted to fight organized crime and large-scale drug operations, they have turned into a brutal fund-raising tool for law-enforcement agencies. For any department that wants to augment its appropriated budget, asset forfeiture is a gift from Heaven. And human nature dictates that many law-enforcement officials pay more attention to cases involving property that can be seized, and less to cases in which your life or property may be threatened.

Seized property usually is sold at auction, and the law-enforcement agency keeps all or most of the auction proceeds for its own use. However, sometimes the agency will keep the assets and use them especially cars and buildings. Sometimes the seized property is stolen by government employees. Or it may simply be left forgotten and moldering in a government warehouse.

Asset forfeitures total over $2 billion a year in property allowing many state law-enforcement agencies to be self-funding. These agencies no longer plead for money from the legislators; their seizures provide the money to buy whatever they think they need.

Asset forfeiture is a mockery of the Bill of Rights. There is no presumption of innocence, no need to prove you guilty (or even charge you with a crime), no right to a jury trial, no right to confront your accuser, no right to a court-appointed attorney (even if the government has just stolen all your money), and no right to compensation for the property that's been taken. Somewhere hidden in the 4th and 5th Amendments there must be a clause saying these Amendments don't apply to asset forfeiture.

Asset forfeiture laws allow an angry neighbor or a desperate business competitor to make your life a living Hell by telling the police anonymously that you're storing drugs or illegal weapons in your closet. You can lose not just your closet, but your entire house or any cash kept in the house even if the police don't find any drugs or weapons.

To reduce crime and protect your right to property, it's important that we repeal all federal asset forfeiture provisions. I hope this will lead to the repeal of all state and local asset forfeiture laws.

Reducing government power by getting rid of these laws will refocus police on chasing violent crime, instead of lucrative seizures making your life safer.

Once again, less government means less crime.

4. STOP PROSECUTING VICTIMLESS CRIMES

The crime rate can be reduced dramatically by ending the War on Drugs and stopping the prosecution of other victimless crimes. This will free up resources to control true crime the kind that hurts and terrorizes people.

Our prisons are packed with non-violent criminals which frees violent murderers, rapists, and robbers on early release and through plea bargains. We need to send the pot smokers and other non-violent prisoners home, and make room for the thugs who terrorize innocent people.

This is covered in more detail in chapter 10 of The Great Libertarian Offer, and my proposals to free non-violent prisoners are on page 237.

Mandatory Minimums

One of the cruelest consequences of the War on Drugs has been the invention of federal sentencing formulas. These are rules established by Congress that require judges to impose fixed sentences, without hope of parole, for various crimes.

Beyond a very narrow range of discretion, a judge can reduce a defendant's sentence only if the defendant provides "substantial assistance" in convicting others and only if the prosecutor approves (a clear violation of the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches).

In 1986 basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. House Speaker Tip O'Neill saw this as an opportunity to show that Democrats are just as tough on drugs as Republicans. He exploited Bias' death to rush through a bill before the 1986 elections. The bill fixed the minimum sentences for a whole range of crimes, but mostly concerning drugs. Republicans eagerly embraced a bill that responded to their long-standing complaints that judges are "soft on crime" especially drug crime.

Few Congressmen took the time to read any part of the bill. There were no hearings, and there was virtually no discussion of the bill before it was passed. This reckless legislating has caused gross injustices in the sentences imposed on non-violent criminals and innocent bystanders, overflowed the nation's prisons, and destroyed thousands of lives.

Laws are rarely repealed not even bad ones. Instead, a law is "fixed" by passing an additional law which usually makes matters even worse. When it was found that the 1986 bill wasn't putting away big-time drug dealers for long sentences, Congress passed a 1998 bill that made everyone in a drug organization responsible for every crime committed by anyone in the group. That meant the errand boy who never carried anything more important than sandwiches and coffee could receive the same sentence as Mr. Big.

I know you won't be surprised to learn that this law didn't catch any big fish either. In fact, it did just the opposite. When a major drug dealer was caught, he provided "substantial assistance" by ratting on everyone underneath him allowing him to get a light sentence. Because of the 1998 law, groups of smaller fish went to prison with long sentences that had been intended for the big barracuda.

This has caused the prison population to explode with more and more people entering prison and staying longer. The Justice Policy Institute has estimated that on February 15, 2000, the prison population of the United States reached 2 million.

But this explosion in the prison population hasn't taken violent criminals off the streets. For the most part, it has scooped up only low-level drug offenders or innocent people who were fingered by high-level dealers providing "substantial assistance."

One example was Clarence Aaron. In 1992 he was a 23-year-old college student in Mobile, Alabama. He had never been in trouble with the law when he agreed to drive some friends to a drug transaction in Baton Rouge. When caught, the friends provided "substantial assistance" by testifying against Clarence. Although he had never dealt drugs himself or even touched any, Clarence was given three life sentences without possibility of parole.

His only hope now is a Libertarian President who will pardon him. If I am elected President, I will provide that pardon from the inauguration platform.

The mandatory minimums are a travesty, spawned by the travesty that is the War on Drugs. They must be eliminated, and sentencing discretion must be returned to judges who can consider all the circumstances when passing sentence.

Wiping victimless crimes off the law books and ending the mandatory minimums will not only end the cruel and unusual punishment of people who are either innocent or who have committed minor offenses. It also will dramatically reduce the prison population and make room for the violent thugs you don't want to meet on a dark street.

Once again, less government means less crime.

5. RESTORE RESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW

Every senseless law enacted by big government erodes the public's respect for the rule of law. And there have been plenty of senseless laws.

With government invading your bank account, your bedroom, your bathroom, and your closet, many people can no longer see the difference between laws to punish violent criminals and laws to regulate your private business. With the line blurred, it's too easy for individuals without much moral training to step over it and hurt others. If it's okay to smuggle into your home a toilet larger than the federal government allows, maybe it's okay to smuggle out of the office a little of your employer's property.

Respect for the law also means insisting that police, prosecutors, and courts respect your civil liberties. Without the rights promised you in the Bill of Rights, you are living in a police state. Among those rights are:

  • Your right to be secure in your person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure. (4th Amendment)

  • Your right to be safe against double jeopardy, to remain silent if suspected of a crime, to due process of law, and to just compensation if your property is taken for public use. (5th Amendment)

  • Your right to a speedy and public trial, to know of every witness against you, to cross-examine those witnesses, and to have the assistance of counsel for your defense. (6th Amendment)

  • Your right to a trial by jury. (7th Amendment)

  • Your right to be released on reasonable bail, and to be free of excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. (8th Amendment)

  • Your right to privacy or any other common right that hasn't specifically been forfeited in the Constitution. (9th Amendment)

These rights have been sliced and diced by asset forfeiture laws, by the practice of retrying in federal court individuals who have been acquitted in state court, by search and arrest warrants issued on anonymous tips, by confiscation powers given to the EPA and other federal agencies, and by mandatory minimum sentences imposing cruel punishments.

The abuses of civil liberties by the police, prosecutors, and courts have done little to keep violent criminals off the streets. But they have turned the lives of many innocent people into nightmares.

Professional criminals are versed in the laws they break; they know how to limit the risk of prosecution. The innocent know little about the 1,001 new laws passed each year and so they're shocked and helpless when a government agent moves in on them. This is why tough new laws aimed at crime always seem to hurt the innocent more than the guilty.

The Declaration of Independence says that "Governments are instituted among Men" to "secure these rights" to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." A government that does that and no more will be immeasurably more just, more efficient, and more respected than our government is today, and you will be freer and more prosperous.

The Great Libertarian Offer will reduce the federal government to just its constitutional functions automatically removing thousands of federal laws from the books, automatically restoring hundreds of lost rights, and automatically restoring the rule of law.

This will do far more to reduce crime than all the new prisons, new money for law-enforcement agencies, and new intrusions on your liberty.

Once again . . . 

LESS GOVERNMENT MEANS LESS CRIME

Crime rates will drop to the level of a generation ago only when we reduce our dependence upon government. . . .

  1. Repeal gun-control laws and criminals will start fearing innocent citizens.

  2. Get the federal government out of local law enforcement, and law enforcement will be much more effective and less expensive.

  3. Repeal the asset forfeiture laws, and crime-fighting agencies will refocus on the most dangerous criminals, rather than on the most valuable property.

  4. End the prosecution of victimless crimes especially drug crimes and the courts will tell the truly violent criminals to step to the head of the line.

  5. Reduce the enormous number of pointless and harmful laws and regulations, and citizens will respect the laws that remain.

Will these five proposals do away with crime entirely? Of course not. Even the freest and most prosperous country in the world will have people who try to get what they want by taking it from others.

But you can have a peaceful city and a peaceful neighborhood. And you can have it without making big government any bigger but instead by reducing our reliance on government and relying more on citizens who have an interest in minimizing crime.

Libertarian solutions are sometimes accused of being too extreme. But what could be extreme about wanting to reduce crime, making our schools safer, and setting our citizens free?

The real extremists are those who continue to let children die in school shootings and drive-by killings rather than give up their love affair with big government.

 

(This is a chapter from The Great Libertarian Offer by Harry Browne, published in 2000. The book contains proposals to reduce government and thereby reduce social problems in dozens of areas. Information on the book is available by clicking here.)

 

{1} The New York City homicide rate for 1943 was cited by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in a speech, and quoted by Sam Roberts, "A Plea for Intolerance for Acts of Crime, The New York Times, April 26, 1993. The 1995 rate was cited by Fox Butterfield, "Major Crimes Fell in 95, Early Data By FBI Indicate," The New York Times, May 6, 1996.