Perhaps the hardest thing for others to understand about libertarian ideas is this: we object to the gun in the room. I don’t mean we’re anti-gun at all; most, in fact, support the use of firearms for recreational, sporting, and self-defense uses.
What we object to is that, in order to drive policy X, some folks want to point guns at the rest of us.
To give an example: compulsory education. Just about everything done by government would be an excellent example.
Do I support education? Of course I do. Do I think it’s good for a child to be educated? Of course. Do I think it is good for many or all children to be educated? So far so good.
What’s my beef with compulsory education, then?
What does “compulsory” mean? “involving or exercising compulsion; coercive.”
What is the opposite of compulsion? Liberty.
The problem I have with compulsory education isn’t the value of education per se. The problem is the compulsion. Compulsion deprives people of choice.
Suppose a rapist approaches a girl, and she objects. The rapist says “you must object to sex.”
The girl replies “No, I object to the gun.”
Rapist “Let’s talk about the value of sex.”
Girl: “Let’s talk about the gun.”
This confuses many people because they have forgotten about the gun. They focus only on the supposed benefits of the education or whatever else is being mandated.
We libertarians say that the compulsion – the “gun in the room” – is important.
Reasonable people talk about things. When a person brings a gun into a discussion, it’s no longer a discussion among equals; it’s no longer symmetrical. It isn’t even a discussion, really, as you’ll see if you try to argue the merits of the proposal. You’ll be shot down, figuratively speaking, before your wheels even leave the ground. You’ll be told that you “don’t value X” or “don’t care about X” or “hate children,” or will otherwise be diverted.