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TheAllotrope
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Well, the good news is, in a Capitalist society, it wouldn't be up to you to let anyone have anything at all, aside from that which is yours to give or not give.

The "bad" news is that a Capitalist society, like all societies, can only exist if the people in that society support it. And that takes convincing. Unless someone gives me a reason for the right to own tools of mass murder, similar to the reason Ayn Rand gives for the right of men to own the tools of living that allow them to live free and prosper (property rights) in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", I shall not support your brand of Capitalism. Nor will most anyone else.

Have you read "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", are you familiar with Ayn Rand's reasoning, according to which property rights are not a primary, but merely a necessity of the individual's life qua man, secondary to man's right to life?

Or are you at least familiar with her view of Libertarians, who take various parts of her works out of context, and apply them with no regard to the fact that Objectivism, as a whole, is a humanist philosophy, not a rationalization meant to justify anarchy?

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The "bad" news is that a Capitalist society, like all societies, can only exist if the people in that society support it. And that takes convincing. Unless someone gives me a reason for the right to own tools of mass murder, similar to the reason Ayn Rand gives for the right of men to own the tools of living that allow them to live free and prosper (property rights) in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", I shall not support your brand of Capitalism. Nor will most anyone else.

Those "tools of mass murder" may have other uses other than force, which is kind of the point of the whole discussion. I do not see how the *weapon itself* really matters at all. Only how the person is using or intends to use a weapon seems to really matter. There are certainly few situations where a nuke can conceivably be used for things other than force. It would be up to an individual to discover potential non-force uses, maybe even for deep-space mining on moons. Of course that isn't possible now, but by saying nukes can be banned would mean that it will never be possible to do that.

If someone had a military-grade missile on their lawn, I wouldn't mind, and possessing it wouldn't be any sort of force. If they aim it at my house though, then that certainly can be considered force. Would there be very many situations where there would be a legitimate use for that missile? Probably not. But that's his waste of money.

Edited by Eiuol
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Those "tools of mass murder" may have other uses other than force, which is kind of the point of the whole discussion. I do not see how the *weapon itself* really matters at all. Only how the person is using or intends to use a weapon seems to really matter. There are certainly few situations where a nuke can conceivably be used for things other than force. It would be up to an individual to discover potential non-force uses, maybe even for deep-space mining on moons. Of course that isn't possible now, but by saying nukes can be banned would mean that it will never be possible to do that.

Deep space mining on moons is also a total impossibility, today. So today, nukes should still be banned completely from private use, until someone comes up with an actual good reason for having one. Then, they can be unbanned.

But our current disagreement is about whether it is obvious that Sanjavalen has every right to a machine-gun nest. (or a military grade missile on his lawn) I said it is not, because he never mentioned where he lives (if he lives in a residential area, then it's definitely not his right to have a machine-gun nest). A machine-gun nest could only be used to spray bullets around the neighborhood, and preventing that is the government's job.

I have heard no rational arguments for the right to a machine-gun nest, in a populated area. At a remote site, the purpose would be to defend something of great value. (like a private version of Fort Knox) But, in your neighborhood, not a single possible use for it, that is not a rights violation. So, since the right to own whatever you like is not a primary, but rather a consequence of the right to life, I can't imagine where such a right would come from, in Objectivism.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Can you concretize this idea with a specific location, facts of wind, and kilotonnage to show that a hydrogen bomb can actually be properly used for anything other than initiation of force or retaliation (neither of which is legitimately open to citizens)?

No, as I'm neither a construction engineer or a nuclear engineer. I did read some time ago, probably twenty years ago, that this was explored as an opportunity.

Size could be reduced vs what was actually used on Japan. US special operations groups have had man portable nuclear units for decades. I have no knowledge of one every being used by them, or not for that matter. Yes, that is for specific use of force and not of a construction nature, but I'm sure one could come up with underground use or other ways of using it to do a large demolition project. Social pressure might be great, just as there's so much social pressure against nuclear power plants.

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The "bad" news is that a Capitalist society, like all societies, can only exist if the people in that society support it. And that takes convincing. Unless someone gives me a reason for the right to own tools of mass murder, similar to the reason Ayn Rand gives for the right of men to own the tools of living that allow them to live free and prosper (property rights) in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", I shall not support your brand of Capitalism. Nor will most anyone else.

Have you read "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", are you familiar with Ayn Rand's reasoning, according to which property rights are not a primary, but merely a necessity of the individual's life qua man, secondary to man's right to life?

Or are you at least familiar with her view of Libertarians, who take various parts of her works out of context, and apply them with no regard to the fact that Objectivism, as a whole, is a humanist philosophy, not a rationalization meant to justify anarchy?

Oh so you're of the opinion that laws are supposed to tell people what they're allowed to do - as opposed to prohibit those acts which are by their nature evil? That would imply that all acts should be considered evil until deemed otherwise by law... odd that you'd ask me if I was up on my reading.

Or maybe you're really having trouble with sorting act and actor out from those objects which the actor happens to employ in his actions?

Incidentally your argument reads like the same they use to advocate smoking bans and the like. (X can only ever be bad for you, so public good blah blah)

Edited by Jas0n
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No, I can find it. Here's what he said:

So it is complicated to find laws that will both allow the home or store owners to defend their lives and properties, but also prevent robberies, as much as possible. But, if a law were to manage that, that would be a proper law. In New York, for instance, there are laws that pretty much ban handguns (for most people... from what I hear, you need a lawyer, or massive amounts of free time and patience, to get a permit), but (mostly) allow shotguns in homes or stores. Shotguns work for home defense, but are hard to conceal from policemen, on your way to a robbery,
so the intention is there to achieve both aims
.

It seems that you misunderstood what he said. A law was created, by men, in New York, which limits acts of possessing firearms. The intention, i.e. the purpose, behind men creating that law, is to both make it difficult for a person to use a weapon to commit a robbery, while making it possible to use one for self defense. Thus he is attributing intent to the makers of the law, not to the shotguns that citizens might use.

I don't see where a gun law makes it necessarily difficult for a person to use a gun to commit a robbery. There are facts that guns obtained illegally are used in robberies. Therefore, gun laws obstruct those that already follow the laws of New York or other places.

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Yes, that is for specific use of force and not of a construction nature, but I'm sure one could come up with underground use or other ways of using it to do a large demolition project.
Well, I'm not sure. That's why I asked the engineering question. Until there is a way to contain radioactive fallout, rights-respecting above-ground use isn't possible. My understanding is that hypothetical mining applications can't work because they trash the goods that you're mining for (rendering natural gas radioactive, for instance). The point is that as it stands, taking possession of a nuclear weapon is evidence of an intent to violate the rights of others, and until there is some concrete reason to believe that possessing an H-bomb is evidence of a non-aggressive intent, the law should do what it's supposed to do, namely protect people's rights.

It's kind of like saying that you don't know for sure that a man running at you with an insane look in his eye brandishing a shotgun and yelling "We've got to stop them! They're taking over our minds!" has something innocent in mind. It's conceptually possible, after all at the last minute a volitional being can decide "Nope, I'm not gonna murder today!". So it's imaginable that a person with a home H-bomb just likes the bomb's housing, but not probable enough to take such a notion seriously. The act of possessing a functioning H bomb in my vicinity is a credible threat against my life, and I have the right to defend myself from such threatening acts, just as I have the right to defend myself against the nut running at me with the apparent intent to blow my head off. The only difference that I see between the cases is the immediacy of the running man.

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I don't see where a gun law makes it necessarily difficult for a person to use a gun to commit a robbery.
That isn't the point. The point is that there was an intent behind the lawmakers' act of creating the law, and that that it was an intent of the lawmakers. I don't believe that the law accomplishes the goal.
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Deep space mining on moons is also a total impossibility, today. So today, nukes should still be banned completely from private use, until someone comes up with an actual good reason for having one. Then, they can be unbanned.

Then why ban it at any point? I'm not understanding you. I'm not sure why you'd need to bring up "then they can be unbanned", because that does suggest there can be a legitimate use. You do mean "ban" as in "not allowed to possess" right? Wouldn't it be perfectly fine for someone to buy some nukes for some testing for "industrial mining" purposes? Or would you require them to write a detailed overview of their intentions before you allow them to do so?

Maybe the issue is the use of the word "banned". If a person in a suburb has a nuclear bomb sitting in their backyard, depending on the type of bomb, I would feel that specifically is a threat of force and would be illegal. To me that wouldn't be banning the weapon, but banning a particular action; imminent threat of force. But if you stored your bomb in a deep underground radiation-proof concrete storage facility, I would not feel threatened. Unless it was a person like Kim Jong Il. Banning suggests that you as a civilian are simply not allowed to *have* and *own* a nuclear bomb. Since initiation of force should be illegal, nuclear bombs *today* would be banned de facto, not de jure.

Edited by Eiuol
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Well, I'm not sure. That's why I asked the engineering question. Until there is a way to contain radioactive fallout, rights-respecting above-ground use isn't possible. My understanding is that hypothetical mining applications can't work because they trash the goods that you're mining for (rendering natural gas radioactive, for instance). The point is that as it stands, taking possession of a nuclear weapon is evidence of an intent to violate the rights of others, and until there is some concrete reason to believe that possessing an H-bomb is evidence of a non-aggressive intent, the law should do what it's supposed to do, namely protect people's rights.

It's kind of like saying that you don't know for sure that a man running at you with an insane look in his eye brandishing a shotgun and yelling "We've got to stop them! They're taking over our minds!" has something innocent in mind. It's conceptually possible, after all at the last minute a volitional being can decide "Nope, I'm not gonna murder today!". So it's imaginable that a person with a home H-bomb just likes the bomb's housing, but not probable enough to take such a notion seriously. The act of possessing a functioning H bomb in my vicinity is a credible threat against my life, and I have the right to defend myself from such threatening acts, just as I have the right to defend myself against the nut running at me with the apparent intent to blow my head off. The only difference that I see between the cases is the immediacy of the running man.

How does one obtain an H bomb?

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Then why ban it at any point? I'm not understanding you. I'm not sure why you'd need to bring up "then they can be unbanned", because that does suggest there can be a legitimate use. You do mean "ban" as in "not allowed to possess" right? Wouldn't it be perfectly fine for someone to buy some nukes for some testing for "industrial mining" purposes? Or would you require them to write a detailed overview of their intentions before you allow them to do so?

What you are describing does not exist. It is inconceivable, impossible, not doable, no way, no how...No, it would not be perfectly fine for someone to buy nukes for industrial mining purposes, anymore than it would be for powering Santa's sled, on its way from the North Pole. The reason: there's no such thing as Santa, and there's no such thing as mining with nuclear weapons. It is definitely, categorically and undoubtedly impossible.

If there was a Santa which had a sled that ran on atom bombss, then it would not be alright to always ban them. Santa should then be allowed to have one, in fact he should be allowed to do whatever he wants, as long as he can supply all of us with every gift we wish for. But since Santa isn't real, we should return to reality, where the government's action to prohibit the owning, building, transporting, etc. of nuclear weapons by private citizens for any purpose, real or imaginary, is not a violation of anyone's rights, and a perfectly acceptable measure, because their sole purpose is the destruction of life and property.

Oh so you're of the opinion that laws are supposed to tell people what they're allowed to do - as opposed to prohibit those acts which are by their nature evil? That would imply that all acts should be considered evil until deemed otherwise by law... odd that you'd ask me if I was up on my reading.

You don't know my opinion on laws, because I never told you what it is. All I can tell you is that the Objectivist position on laws is a bit more complicated than you've been lead to believe ("they're supposed to prohibit evil acts" most definitely does not sum it up).

Laws are meant to protect individual rights. In order to be able to decide what laws should do, you should first understand what individual rights are, and what they mean, in the context of the philosophy of Objectivism.

Or maybe you're really having trouble with sorting act and actor out from those objects which the actor happens to employ in his actions?

I don't know. I'm having trouble sorting out this sentence.

Incidentally your argument reads like the same they use to advocate smoking bans and the like. (X can only ever be bad for you, so public good blah blah)

You should read my argument again, if the first attempt confused you into thinking I was trying to justify smoking bans, and blah blah. I never mentioned smoking, or blahs, just nukes and such.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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If there was a Santa which had a sled that ran on atom bombss, then it would not be alright to always ban them. Santa should then be allowed to have one, in fact he should be allowed to do whatever he wants, as long as he can supply all of us with every gift we wish for. But since Santa isn't real, we should return to reality, where the government's action to prohibit the owning, building, transporting, etc. of nuclear weapons by private citizens for any purpose, real or imaginary, is not a violation of anyone's rights, and a perfectly acceptable measure, because their sole purpose is the destruction of life and property.

So Santa's only reason for existing is to provide the rest of us with goodies? :lol:

Also, if we're really going to be talking about ordnance or heavy machine guns, would someone kindly propose a reason for having such things privately? I could be wrong, but my understanding of Objectivism is that every action must have a reason that goes beyond "I felt like it". I for one cannot imagine a reason why a private individual would want artillery or a nuke, especially when his neighbors are willing and able to finance such things jointly, putting them under the control of the military or militia. Those who oppose possession of such things have detailed their positions - namely, that their presence in residential areas constitutes a likely threat to their lives.

If it is acceptable for a private citizen to own such weapons on the grounds that it's merely ownership, not a positive action, then I would think someone could equally well walk around with a grenade in one hand, so long as the fuse was never pulled.

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It's kind of like saying that you don't know for sure that a man running at you with an insane look in his eye brandishing a shotgun and yelling "We've got to stop them! They're taking over our minds!" has something innocent in mind. It's conceptually possible, after all at the last minute a volitional being can decide "Nope, I'm not gonna murder today!". So it's imaginable that a person with a home H-bomb just likes the bomb's housing, but not probable enough to take such a notion seriously. The act of possessing a functioning H bomb in my vicinity is a credible threat against my life, and I have the right to defend myself from such threatening acts, just as I have the right to defend myself against the nut running at me with the apparent intent to blow my head off. The only difference that I see between the cases is the immediacy of the running man.

I think we've some how gotten into a can of worms.

If one has a functioning large SUV, it can be used as an act of force too. So, given that the act of possessing any possible weapon, should they all be regulated out of the hands of individuals? Sticks, paper weights, needles, spoons, trucks, etc.

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What you are describing does not exist.

Light bulbs, computers, cars, air planes. They didn't exist at one time.

But since Santa isn't real, we should return to reality, where the government's action to prohibit the owning, building, transporting, etc. of nuclear weapons by private citizens for any purpose, real or imaginary, is not a violation of anyone's rights, and a perfectly acceptable measure, because their sole purpose is the destruction of life and property.

TNT can be owned. I know individuals that have licensing for it. It was harder for them to get an Illinois gun permit than their explosives license. Maybe someone knows the history of gun powder and dynamite better than I, but wasn't a lot of the purpose of that for destruction of life, property. Yes, the use of TNT is still destruction, but it is effective in accomplishing a task of destruction that is an act of work.

Is this incorrect?

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You don't know my opinion on laws, because I never told you what it is. All I can tell you is that the Objectivist position on laws is a bit more complicated than you've been lead to believe ("they're supposed to prohibit evil acts" most definitely does not sum it up).

Laws are meant to protect individual rights. In order to be able to decide what laws should do, you should first understand what individual rights are, and what they mean, in the context of the philosophy of Objectivism.

If there's one thing I don't need from you, it's a lecture on Objectivist law. I say this primarily because you appear not to have any idea what absolutism a "ban" represents - and your position is indicated by your having suggested that you wouldn't "let" someone have something which you fear. "I wouldn't let you have big guns because I can't conceive of any use other than killing people" (which is a paraphrase - I'll pull exact quotes if you'd like), if presented as a foundation for law, would be entirely non-objective. As I've said, you package-deal intent which is pretty ridiculous, you forbid anyone and everyone from formulating their own valuations and instead adopt your own (based on that same package-deal no less), and again as I've said, you appear to be operating under the assumption that laws are generally created to grant rights, rather than to protect them.

I don't know. I'm having trouble sorting out this sentence.

It seems like you're in the habit of assuming that a given unethical action necessarily involves some object, some tool, some instrument... and you're marrying the action to that tool conceptually, as if the action were itself an attribute. The result is, for example, a machine gun which you can only see as an implement of making war, or an explosive device that you can only see as an implement of murder-suicide.

Quit doing that. "Intended use" isn't an attribute.

You should read my argument again, if the first attempt confused you into thinking I was trying to justify smoking bans, and blah blah. I never mentioned smoking, or blahs, just nukes and such.

I'm not sure whether to fault your reading comprehension or just laugh... I didn't say that I thought you were wanting to ban smoking. I pointed out that your line of argument takes the same route (or, in other words, makes the same errors) as a typical argument for a smoking ban. Specifically, you assume your own judgments about a given thing (gun, cigarette) as if they were drawn not from your own values, but from some attribute of the object itself, and the argument this produces leads you to believe that you'd be right in sacrificing people's property rights wholesale. Shall I be more specific?

Edited by Jas0n
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This is curious, however. There is much talk about 'nuclear mining,' but what about regular mining? Companies own large quantities of TNT, enough to move mountains. Isn't it then possible for entire cities to be at the mercy of these companies if a TNT shipment came into a harbor? Is it illegal for companies to mine with TNT because of its destructive capabilities? When does something become too dangerous? Oil tankers are also extremely dangerous. Are our lives at the mercy of the whim of a tanker or cargo ship captain/worker?

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This is curious, however. There is much talk about 'nuclear mining,' but what about regular mining? Companies own large quantities of TNT, enough to move mountains. Isn't it then possible for entire cities to be at the mercy of these companies if a TNT shipment came into a harbor? Is it illegal for companies to mine with TNT because of its destructive capabilities? When does something become too dangerous?

We're not really talking about "dangerous", in the sense that it is prone to accidents. We are talking about certain tools, that are only used for destruction, but not for anything else. The difference between regular and nuclear mining is that the first one exists, while the second one does not, and therefor is irrelevant, in any context.

So, regular mining, with TNT, is very much relevant when deciding if people have the right to own TNT. But nuclear mining is irrelevant to all conversations, laws, ideas, forum posts etc. related to reality, no matter what the subject, including this particular subject of individual rights.

A Capitalist government would not be allowed to place any restrictions on actions, tools, property etc. that cannot be objectively proven to be an actual threat. Such a government would be limited to using preventive or retributive force against those who intend to violate other people's rights, and can be proven to do so, through objective means. Someone who installs a machine-gun nest on his lawn is intending if not to use it for sure, at least have it as a back up, just in case. That act alone shows intent to violate someone's rights, there is no other explanation for it. Same with someone who buys a suitcase nuke, or even someone who drives a van full of TNT into Manhattan, even though they don't work for a demolitions company hired to do a job there. But someone who owns a mining company cannot be stopped from safely transporting TNT, unless there is other evidence against them, as well.

The difference is in interpreting evidence, in its proper context. Sometimes, like in the case of an atom bomb or a suicide vest, the context is pretty wide: for any private individual the act of buying, handling, moving etc an atom bomb, just by itself, is evidence enough of criminal intent. There simply isn't any doubt about it, so the government may use the most efficient method of preventing that crime there is: completely prohibiting the purchase or ownership of those two objects. Those who tell you that that would violate their rights will not be able to explain why it is that they have to have the right to own the objects, in terms of Objectivist morality. Their only argument would be the repetition of the mantra that they can own whatever they want, independent of context. That is almost true, but not quite. Possessing some objects is evidence of the intent to violate someone's rights.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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We're not really talking about "dangerous", in the sense that it is prone to accidents. We are talking about certain tools, that are only used for destruction, but not for anything else. The difference between regular and nuclear mining is that the first one exists, while the second one does not, and therefor is irrelevant, in any context.

What if I had the money and wanted to test that capability? Like I asked before: Wouldn't it be perfectly fine for someone to buy some nukes for some testing for "industrial mining" purposes? Or would you require them to write a detailed overview of their intentions before you allow them to do so? Forget if nukes are currently used for mining of any sort. It would make sense to test such a thing provided you can do so in a place where its use would not violate rights (i.e. damage property, nuclear fallout etc). I don't understand why you say a particular *weapon* needs to be banned. Why can't you treat it like other weapons and ban a particular action? It seems to me that the type of damage heavy duty military-grade weapons do simply limits the amount of places where they can be used or stored without violating rights.

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What if I had the money and wanted to test that capability?

Well, if you're gonna continue bringing up the impossible in arguments, then I'm allowed to use ghosts as arguments, for making laws. Ghosts hate nukes, because it makes their privates itch and glow in the dark. We can't have that, so that counters your nuclear mining argument.

And, if you want evidence of these ghosts, I can provide IMDB links to several movies that are just as close to real as any description of nuclear mining.

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Well, if you're gonna continue bringing up the impossible in arguments, then I'm allowed to use ghosts as arguments, for making laws. Ghosts hate nukes, because it makes their privates itch and glow in the dark. We can't have that, so that counters your nuclear mining argument.

And, if you want evidence of these ghosts, I can provide IMDB links to several movies that are just as close to real as any description of nuclear mining.

It's not like it's metaphysically impossible to detonate a nuke in the Earth. I'm not asking about things that are metaphysically impossible, like ghosts, Santa Claus or transforming into a unicorn. What if I wanted to *test* capabilities of nukes for mining? Or would you say "No, you're not allowed to do that since it's impossible to use nukes for mining!"? It is certainly possible to test that today. That was the question.

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It's not like it's metaphysically impossible to detonate a nuke in the Earth.

It's not metaphysically impossible for people to die. So what? We're not talking about detonating nukes and dying, we're talking about mining with nukes and dying and becoming ghosts.

It is a metaphysical impossibility to detonate a nuke without irradiating everything around it. That's why it is a metaphysical impossibility to take any useful materials out of the Earth, using nuclear weapons, with current technology.

If we develop robots that can function without human presence, land on asteroids, extract irradiated minerals to create the energy and materials they need to sustain themselves while building various satellites in space, then nukes could onceivably be useful. I would imagine there will be more and more a need for installations such as satellites, that can be helpful without the need for humans to actually visit them, so the radiation would be irrelevant.

All that is, today, an impossibility. That is why, today, banning nuclear weapons from civilian use altogether does not violate anyone's rights. Banning them forever would, but no one suggested that.

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Mr. Ellison, you have an odd way of going about making points. Here you're trying to pass off those arguments which oppose yours as being the result of dropped context, of having no referrent in reality... but you talk about private ownership of a nuclear arsenal as if such an accumulation of (potentially) destructive power occurs in a vacuum - as if without the government meddling you're advocating, average Joe Citizen could go out and buy up a nuke if he were so inclined.

What do you think a nuclear warhead costs? Where do you think they come from? Do you have any idea how they are constructed, or for that matter how they are put to use?

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you have made it at least as far as the conclusion that it would be a tremendously expensive, time- and energy-consuming process to construct these items. Now consider the firm that invests all that time and energy acquiring the materials and constructing the weapon. Do you suppose that firm will see it as being in their best interest to pawn off the warhead to a dangerous person?

Also, I am assuming that you're not opposed to government possession of such ordnance, when I ask: where do you suppose the government gets their weaponry? Do they manufacture it themselves? As I recall, Ayn Rand said that a proper government consists of a military, law enforcement, and a system of courts - which does not include a mining facility, radioactive materials refinement, weapons construction... so do you envision giving certain firms a special status which allows them to produce this weaponry? Wait, Rand wanted a pretty strict separation of state and commerce, and she spoke severely about government favors to one company over another. So that can't be it either. What's left?

Your demand for an absolute ban on these things is incompatible with Objectivist philosophy, from foundation (where you treat intent as though it were an attribute) to implementation (where you wind up having to violate some free market principle no matter which direction you go).

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No doubt this is why Rand herself found the matter sufficiently complex that she never clearly supported individual ownership of nerve gas or H-bombs.
Yeah, I don't either, honestly.

The tricky part is that governments are in charge of these items. They are good a messing up things, certainly. Have we just been lucky? Have all the former Soviet countries really been responsible with their technology and hardware?

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