US Federalism and Its Path to Violence


This article is not a statement of support to any pro-gun group, the NRA, or a similar non-governmental organization dealing with firearms. This is a simple reflection on the recent gun problems that we see today, and how I believe that the United States does not have a gun issue, but a violence issue due to the ever-expansion of Federal powers. First, I would like to say that it is devastating to see another mass shooting happen. It is completely devastating to see that the United States falling apart, away from its original intentions for States to foster the Federal government adhering to a constitution, granted and ratified by the States, as Judge Napolitano states with his final 5 minutes on his show.

Let’s look at the history of US homicide rates and social events which have happened over the time period that I was able to collect for my argument on the gun issue (figure 1). The United States from 1886 to 1910 have not had a single mass shooting and the lowest recorded homicide rates within its time period ever. Some people may make the argument that guns were less advanced during that time, however, my argument is that guns in that period were still as capable of killing people in large numbers as they are today. What happened? Why the sudden increase in homicide rates, and the slight increase in mass shootings? I believe it’s the many reasons of ever-expansive Federal social laws and social events which interfere with the freedoms of normal US citizens and immigrants. On the graph are some examples of social interferences which had negative effects on society that I believe could have incubated the growth of the violence in the United States. Below I will explain three of them: alcohol Prohibition of 1920 (technically 1919, but effectively started in 1920), the beginning of Federal War on Drugs, and the increase of Federal power.

Alcohol Prohibition of 1920

The Alcohol Prohibition of 1920 was an example of a social disruption towards everyday normal and free society. With the alcohol Prohibition of 1920, in some instances in some states and large cities, large riots have amassed due to the lack of alcohol available. As well as this, black markets have arisen during this time period. With the combination of civil unrest and black markets, it would be evidentially clear that violence would spur in the United States, especially where Prohibition was most effective. It is not coincidental that with the passing of the alcohol Prohibition amendment of 1920 that homicide rates have effectively risen in the United States at such levels unseen.

Federal War on Drugs

The Federal War on Drugs is in many ways similar towards the Prohibition of 1920, however unlike Prohibition, the United States would enter the worst possible economic policies to follow throughout its history, which effectively amplified the effects and would also spur the growth of mass shootings in later years in the United States.

Increase in Federal power

13453919_10206428756305510_2048189225_nWith legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act plus the expansion of the US police force in a military-like way, the never-ending wars in the Middle East; this would create a more violent culture within society due to three reasons, A) violence and patriotism shown within our media, B) the return of mentally unstable vets, C) the revenge from Islamic extremist, and other countries with foreign interventionism that were unconstitutionally authorized.

Those are some examples of how the expansion of Federal powers in terms of social issues have definitely backfired and have led us towards mass shootings and violence in the United States indirectly, when we as a nation restrict freedom and liberty. This, combined with never-ending wars, we tend to create an environment of violence, filled with patriotism, fear, and ignorance from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

Next, economic issues could also increase our violence within American society. Let’s refer to figure 2. This shows the corruption of our monetary supply, and our fiscal policies, especially when looking at purchasing power plus the nominal minimum wage (or lowest wage rate available at pre-1937 New Deal). We see that not only have we eroded our purchasing power for the US dollar, but ever since the beginning of centralized banking, we can see the increase in income inequality which correlates strongly with the reduction of purchasing power (figure 3). Now, because purchasing power of the United States dollar has decreased due to continuous inflation to “counteract deflationary cycles” in order to keep “stabilized prices” (another argument which can be saved for another time), how can someone possibly be able to use their “valuable US dollars” in order to live within the United States?

The simple truth is people cannot live in the United States or even become entrepreneurs due to the ever-increasing growth in regulations in the economy (with the combination of centralized fiscal and monetary policies).

With the increase of income inequality, the lack of competition, and a regulated economy which is doomed to fail with more regulations (a book I would recommend is Interventionism by Ludwig von Mises), it is evident that these conditions allow the growth for violence in the United States. This is because people are becoming worse-off in economic terms. This would allow the growth of homicides, crime, robberies, and mass shootings.

How do these social and economic issues tie in with mass shootings and homicide rates? When you combine social and economic interventionism in order to “progress” society through federal legislation, this would tend to create adverse effects such as violence in the streets as not everyone would act like the new laws believe they would. They would find “illegal” ways to circumvent the underfunded and highly ineffective government agencies. With this, it would cause government to create fear and propaganda in order to express its illegitimate viewpoints on why it implemented those new laws. With fear and propaganda comes violence, and with violence comes civil unrest like we see today at such large scales.

So what is the solution? Should government try and regulate more of the economy via healthcare, education, and other types of reforms? Should the government try and federally address social issues by passing more legislation? Should those laws include the repeal of the 2nd Amendment? Possibly the 1st or 4th Amendments? My answer to each of those questions are no. The Federal government has clearly stepped over its 17 enumerated powers and have caused havoc as a consequence.

We must address the true issues underlying our gun and violent society problem. It is the government that directly and indirectly allows the growth of violence via restrictions on what society can do with one’s self-interest that does not harm, or violate another human beings individual rights, and with the ever so expansive monetary and fiscal policies, plus the never ending regulations on the economy. If government continues to expand such policies and measures in order to try and achieve its own objectives, then we will forever be submerged in violence domestically and abroad.

So my question related to gun violence and mass shootings is, should the Federal government, which is the perpetrator of our problems we see today regulate the tools that allow us to protect ourselves from both government and individuals which wish to do harm? Or should we regulate the Federal government and its destructive ways on society and economy with our guns, like intended by the Founding Fathers and the Constitution?

Could Jefferson be right that the best government is a government that governs least?

I believe Jefferson is correct, I put my blame not on the mere tools of violence such as guns, knives, bombs, and our very own hands, but I put the blame on government which governs us too much and has interfered with our free society on how we associate, consume, how we commerce with each other, what money we use, how we run our own businesses, and how do we compete amongst each other, thus increasing violence amongst once was free people which inevitably has led to endless mass shootings, wars, and homicides.

Author: Baland Rabayah is a student of praxeology and in the process of authoring a book about the content of this article.

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Baland Rabayah

Baland Rabayah is a student of accounting and finance at Bangor University and is also pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Economics at the University of London. Baland holds a Diploma in Accounting and Finance from the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance. He plans to pursue to continue his studies by doing a master's in economic history and a PhD in Economics. Baland follows a mixture of Chicagoan and Austrian principles in economics, with his influences being Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, George Selgin, Lawrence H. White, Peter G. Klein, Ronald Coase, and Milton Friedman. He is currently part of the Being Libertarian Merchandise Project’s management, and runs his own investments. Baland is also the former CEO of MoreTech Bahrain, a start-up company which attempted to launch Bahrain's and the Middle East's first flagship smartphone. He is a racing enthusiast, and regularly races professionally in Bahrain's SWS races.