The Free Market Response To Gun Violence

The Free Market Response To Gun Violence

Gun violence is real. And it’s always going to be real. But while schools in the United States are safer now than in the 1990s, and although school shootings are not more common now than they used to be, when we ask ourselves what the solution to the “gun violence” problem should be, we never ask the right questions.

Instead, we ask why people need guns, creating a culture of hate and fear of law-abiding gun owners.


As a result, we never arrive at the right solutions, as people who want to do harm will still carry out harmful acts by breaking laws.

In a discussion about the topic for the Mises Institute, Mises Wire editor Ryan McMaken and the Institute’s president, Jeff Deist, looked into the private market’s response. They also point out how we often ignore the potential consequences of the policies we support.

When looking at the “solution” that calls for an end to gun ownership, Deist says we should consider the example of maximum security prisons, which are completely gun-free.

“How far are we willing to go to be completely free of any weapons?,” he asked. “Are we willing to pay with our freedom?”

When we look at the private market, there are several examples of gun-free facilities where the individual isn’t forced to feel pushed around and treated like a subject just because he’s forced to relinquish his guns at the door.

Disneyland is a great example of such, McMaken pointed out.

In the theme park, children and adults alike are given several incentives to have fun and enjoy themselves in a secure space, and that’s because the park’s owners make sure that within their borders, people are safe.

When private companies have what the economists called “skin in the game,” they have incentives to ensure that their patrons are completely safe without having to feel they are unfree.

In a public school setting, however, things are different.

In an article for the institute, McMaken explained that while all gun control pieces of legislation are brought up whenever there’s a mass shooting, not a single person who talks about implementing better security systems. Why? Well, because investing in security that works would reportedly take money away from education.

But according to the data, private schools are generally more safe than public schools.

Still, there are a few public school systems in the United States that have been focusing on boosting security instead of simply giving students access to new guidance counselors.

Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana, has been dubbed “the safest school in America.

Within its walls, which are protected by bullet-proof doors, the school uses a real-time communication system that allows school officials to contact law enforcement as an incident is unfolding. The school is also able to track a potential suspect.

Since all teachers are able to press a button in case of an active shooter situation, an alarm will go off across the campus and students are then told to hide and barricade themselves in a corner and out of view. Teachers may also contact law enforcement from the classroom.

The system also offers live feed from the school’s hallways, and if needed, dispatchers are allowed to shoot smoke out of cannons that will limit the shooter’s visibility and buy law enforcement time.

Still, most public school systems aren’t going that route. And even if Southwestern High School manages to stay shooting-free, the public system still relies on government-backed law enforcement, which oftentimes, isn’t as efficient as we might hope.

If security is an issue, then consumers must be open to the market’s response. And that means allowing entrepreneurs and schools to implement strategies that are both doable and affordable. Refusing to embrace a response that actually works because it is offensive or because it doesn’t go along the anti-gun rhetoric is just not going to cut it.

Comment section

1 thought on “The Free Market Response To Gun Violence

  1. I’m a little befuddled by the thrust of this article. It’s like an article on how to polish your driveway — all the words make sense, but the basic premise is off-kilter.

    Start with the fact that 100% of school shootings in the past 50 years have occurred in government schools — 0% in private institutions. Talking about applying market-based solutions to government institutions (whose funding is obtained via coercive means from people who aren’t even direct clients of their service) is futile. It will never happen, because the success/failure incentive feedback just isn’t there and cannot be simulated.

    Looking at this as a economic or market issue is a second-order analysis. The main problem here is one of rights and liberty, of a warped relationship between the government and its “free” citizens.

    The government forbids anyone in the school to possess effective means of self-defense, promising that the government itself will provide this service exclusively. Then they repeatedly fail to deliver, either because of response time or (in the most recent case) cowardice (or incompetent management). This was precisely the situation that the Second Amendment was written to prevent; but the government has exercised constitutionally suspect powers to suspend our freedoms within their schools.

    In fact, the government makes this prohibition blanket on both their own schools AND private schools, an usurpation that should set off alarm bells.

    As with any prohibition law, it works precisely the opposite way as it was intended, inconveniencing only the law-abiding while being ignored by the criminal — and in this case, the inconvenience is of lethal proportions.

    The only possible market-based approach to this problem is to remove schooling entirely from the functions of government. Then you’ll have a market in which market forces can work.

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