Two other questions that arise about anarchism is the “tank in the garden” problem and the question of gun control. I have kept these examples in the “Reasoning” section because the answers to these questions pertain so many other questions as well.
THE TANK IN THE GARDEN
This objection runs something along these lines:
“Let us suppose that you have a neighbor who becomes obsessed with military hardware, and begins building a tank in his backyard. It looks like a very realistic tank, and he even gets a hold of shells. He then drives the tank back and forth in his backyard, and points the turret directly at your house. Clearly, this is not a good situation for you, but your neighbor is only exercising his own property rights, and so what right do you have to interfere with his tank-building? Certainly, if he accidentally blows the top off your house, you can act in response, but surely you should not have to wait for such a disaster in order to intervene – forcefully, if necessary.”
If we believe that anarchism is a society without rules or laws, then this would seem to be a perplexing problem. In a statist society, you simply have laws against private tank ownership, and the problem is solved!
However, as we have discussed above, anarchism is not a society without rules or laws, but is rather populated by agencies entirely devoted to preventing foreseeable problems. Some problems are complicated and hard to detect – but the “tank in the garden” is not one of those problems.
Furthermore, if we are so concerned about military hardware being used against us, it scarcely seems a wise “solution” to arm a government to the teeth, and disarm ourselves proportionately.
If people are afraid of the “tank in the garden,” all they have to do is ensure that their DRO contract contains protections against well-armed neighbors. How can this be achieved? Well, when my wife and I bought our house, we signed a contract stipulating that we were not to repaint the outside of our house for a period of five years. I am sure that we would not have hesitated to sign the contract if it also included a ban on building tanks, nuclear weapons and aircraft carriers.
If someone does break their DRO contract by building such weapons, the DRO can invoke all of the exclusion and ostracism penalties discussed above.
Some people prefer to live in neighborhoods where there are no guns; some people prefer to live in neighborhoods where everyone has a gun – and some people do not particularly care one way or the other. Anarchism perfectly satisfies everyone’s preferences in this area. If you are a developer building a new neighborhood, you can require everyone buying a house to sign a contract promising to refrain from owning a gun. The enforcement possibilities for this are endless, but need not be intrusive – if I were a DRO and wanted to prevent gun ownership, I would simply revoke my contract with anyone who used or showed a gun in the neighborhood – including acts of self-defense.
On the other hand, I could build a neighborhood which required that everyone be willing to have and know how to use a gun – as is already the case in Switzerland. If I believe that gun ownership in a net positive, I would buy a house in this neighborhood.
Ah, but what if you have a gun in the glove box of your car, and you are driving from neighborhood to neighborhood? Well, then, you are just taking a risk that if you are discovered, your DRO may revoke your contract, just as if you carry a concealed weapon against the law in a statist society. Or they may not care about drivers.
In general, it seems very likely that few if any gun restrictions would be in place in a stateless society. The level of crime would be at least 90% lower than it is today; children would grow up happier, better educated and more secure – and of course you do not need to actually own a gun in order to gain the protective benefits of gun ownership. A thief who wants to break into your house does not know in advance whether you have a gun or not – if everyone is legally disarmed, then he can be quite sure that you do not. However, in a stateless society, there are no “laws” against gun ownership, except those that people enter into voluntarily. If a large number of thieves somehow figure out how to operate in an anarchic society, they will inevitably be drawn to those neighborhoods which have anti-gun contracts, so they will face less risk during their robberies. If these crimes become prevalent, then randomized gun ownership would be the most optimal solution – if these crimes remain extraordinarily rare, as is most likely the case, insofar as only the mentally ill would attempt them, then gun ownership would become an unnecessary overhead, and would very likely decline to almost nothing. There would still be people who would own guns, but they would be a small minority of eccentric collectors, like those who collect medieval swords – legacies of a brutal past that has long since faded into history.