Liberty is essential. Without it, you would literally not be able to survive. Imagine a trip to your own restroom requires permission from a government bureau? Of course, to have true liberty, you must marginally restrict it. In other words, my right to swing my fist ends just BEFORE your nose begins, and vice versa.
If a bunch of us were to start our own Mars colony, and I was elected Governor, the first thing I would do to protect human health and safety would be to establish a non aggression rule. This would be rigorously enforced. Non aggression rules, or non initiation of force rules, are (or should be) the foundation of ANY legal system. I believe the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) is the only just foundation of any legal system. It is an excellent rule that protects everyone.
Therefore, we are setting limits on behavior. Initiation of aggression is any behavior that infringes the rights of others.
When aggression is, or has been, initiated, resultant outcomes and penalties would depend on a couple of things:
- How much aggression was applied, and
- What was the result of that aggression?
For example, death threats are considered aggressive. However, that is considered to be less aggressive than say, actually murdering someone. Therefore, we take action against those who threaten but not as much as those who actually murder.
The use of weapons to threaten, coerce, or intimidate others is considered more serious than using mere words. This is sensible due to the fact that, in addition to violent intent, the aggressor has demonstrated the means to carry out the attack. Additionally, the type of weapon used may also be used as a determinant in the severity of the aggression. For example, threatening someone with a firearm is considered a more aggressive stance than threatening them with a pocketknife. Firearms generally present a greater threat when compared to small knives.
So, what you have is a “sliding scale” that ranges from no aggression at one far end of the scale, to lethal aggression at the far opposite end of that same scale. The severity of penalties associated with those actions is indicated on that same scale.
It’s noteworthy that the non aggression rule allows for the use of force, up to and including the use of lethal force, in self defense scenarios. For example, if you are sitting in your living room watching television, and a blood soaked maniac kicks down your door and swings an axe at you, you are free to use whatever means available to defend yourself. What is important to consider is, YOU did not initiate the aggressive act: HE did. It also grants the State the right to arrest and punish aggressors after the fact. These uses of force are considered justifiable.
Keep reading, I am getting to the point!
While I see many problems with BSL, I generally support it. The breed history and statistics of the Pit Bull, and similar breeds, speak for themselves. Treating Pit Bulls and other “power” breeds of dogs with prejudice is sensible from BOTH an individual AND a societal standpoint. The threat presented by a Pit Bull is greater than the threat presented by a Shih Tzu. Placing restrictions on Pit Bulls (or Shih Tzus for that matter) does not violate one’s core rights as housing a dog in a human city is not recognized as a core civil right anywhere that I know of. You may treat Pit Bulls with prejudice for no other reason than You CAN.
One nagging problem with BSL is that it is apparent to me that most BSL arrangements do NOT directly address the behavior of dogs or dog owners. Sure, there may be a lot of low hanging fruit in a Pit Bull restriction BUT you are still not addressing the aggressive actions directly. There is STILL no “non aggression principle” applied to dog owners!
Non aggression principles dictate that you do NOT initiate aggression against ANYBODY with ANYTHING. While the type of weapon is a determinant in the outcome, the use of “lesser” weapons remains intolerable. “Lesser” offenses should likewise be treated with affirmative action. Face it, ANYTHING can be used as a weapon. One of the few things that Pit Nuts say that is sensible is “any dog can bite”. Of course, none of them has quite the bite of the Pit Bull, but should that give owners of mixes and other breeds a complete pass on bad behavior? NO! It should not, but it does in many cases.
Here is a good for-example. One of my problems with BSL is that it is an arbitrary hard line in the sand. Let’s say for the sake of argument, I have 2 dogs, Rex and Fido. Both are Pit-Lab mixes. Rex is 7/16 pit bull and Fido is 9/16 pit bull. Up until now, I have not only been allowed to KEEP the dogs, I have been allowed to use them to facilitate legalized assault: They have been attacking neighbors and passerby, barking all night, destroying property, attacking other pets, crapping in neighbors yards, etc… All of these are aggressive acts initiated by me, using the dogs as “agents”. Authorities have been contacted but refuse to do anything. I have had NO legal restraint imposed upon me whatsoever. I have been using my dogs to initiate aggression towards others LEGALLY. You see this type of scenario in neighborhoods all over the world.
So, some folks come along, perhaps my victims, and they say “Look, these Pit Bull type dogs are dangerous, lets ban them!”. So, the city comes up with a rule that specifies that all dog owners must submit their dogs for DNA testing and any dog that is 50% or more pit bull will be confiscated and destroyed. As a result of this new policy, Fido is destroyed by the government. However, I still have Rex, who continues the reign of terror throughout the neighborhood unchecked. Passerby continue to be routinely harassed, people STILL can’t sleep in their homes due to frequent barkathons, there is dog crap everywhere (but only half as much), people aren’t safe in their own yards, etc… AC and the cops continue to ignore my neighbors when they call, as they always had been. It is noteworthy that while no restraint is placed on MY behavior, severe restraint is placed on my neighbors’ behavior: If they were to poison or shoot Rex, they would face the most excruciating penalties!
Agreed, in the scenario above my victims are arguably better off BUT they are still being victimized. They are still being victimized because, as dog owner, NO LIMITS HAVE BEEN PLACED ON MY BEHAVIOR! Not only am I allowed to keep Rex, I may continue to do whatever I want with him! I may not only possess the weapon, but I may use it completely at my discretion with no boundaries or limits defined whatsoever! WooHoo!
Now, you could change the hypothetical Pit Bull ban indicated above so that any dog that meets a DNA threshold of 25% or even 12.5% Pit Bull would be summarily destroyed. Such a threshold might solve the “Rex Problem” temporarily but it STILL DOES NOT ADDRESS THE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR OF THE DOG OWNER!
An allegory would be, due to an increase in shootings we will implement a strict ban on automatic rifles. However, shooting at people with “lesser” guns continues to be completely legal. Therefore, as long as your gun is semi-automatic, you may act with NO restraint of any kind whatsoever. How sensible is THAT? Under NAP rules you do not initiate aggression with ANYTHING EVER.
What I am getting at here, is that it is sensible and fair to place limits on behavior FIRST. This is because it is the AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR that is damaging. Therefore, it is the AGGRESSOR that will be the object of restraint and punishment. The TOOL, or “thing”, that is used to facilitate that aggression is of secondary consideration.
I agree that it may become sensible to put limits on ownership of “things” as well. Perhaps some things are just too dangerous to leave in the hands of individuals, including those with peaceful intent. However, I would only restrict “things” AFTER non aggression rules have been firmly established. I have argued that if reasonable non aggression principles had been applied to pet owners all along, the “Pit Bull Problem” never would have presented itself. Even now, if you were to start locking up ALL dog owners that use their dogs as weapons that would be completely devastating to the Pit Bull community, perhaps even more so than a ban that does not address behavior.
Non Aggression Principle (NAP). Learn it. Know it. LIVE IT.