The Case For Tank Ownership


I saw a video of Joe Biden saying that the 2nd Amendment and the 1st Amendment aren’t absolute and tries to justify background checks on guns.  In the video, he mentions how people aren’t able to buy M1 Tanks which got me thinking about something rather interesting: should I be able to buy a tank?

By:  Vincent Birrittella

This article first appeared at Liberty.Me

If politicians and the politically connected can purchase and own such weapons of chaos then how come I or any other ordinary citizen are not able to own one? Even the founding fathers talked about how citizens should have the same weapons as the military.

The most popular argument I could think of for people being forbidden to own tanks is that people aren’t able to handle the responsibility for owning such devices.  They cannot be trusted with such responsibility, so like Mr Biden was saying, there has to be a limit to what a citizen can own to defend themselves.

This is just begging the question though.  If we cannot trust people with tanks then why should we trust the government with them?  How do we figure out such a limit? And does such a limit actually benefit the people? Not when the government is constantly brewing new ways to destroy and plunder, while the citizens are limited to whatever the government allows them to have.  This is truly unfair to the citizens who are marginalized by such an arrangement.  The government clearly has the upper hand and can use it to manipulate and get its way with ease.  It makes sense why a government wouldn’t want the citizens to have the ability to own a tank: it gives them too much power.  If allowing private ownership of tanks empowers citizens then why shouldn’t it be supported?

But Vincent, do you really think that people should be trusted with these metallic beasts? Yes I do.  The same exact arguments for not trusting people with tanks can be made for not trusting people with many things.  Why should we trust people to privately own planes? Clearly people cannot be trusted with planes.  We saw all the damage that was done in 9/11, and someone could attach missiles to their planes and blow up anything in its path.  And why should we trust people to own guns? Think of all the carnage that would take place if we allowed people to own fire arms.  Its clear that they cannot be trusted with such responsibility.

Except this is a slippery slope argument with some faulty assumptions.  It assumes that ownership itself is a violent act.  Just because I own a knife doesn’t mean I’m a serial killer.  It’s what is done with the knife which grants the title (I’m not a serial killer just so you know).  So it follows that just because I or someone else could own a tank doesn’t mean that I’m going to use it to blow up the country side and kill innocent people.  Owning a tank itself is not an act of violence, and its faulty to believe that it is.

To be honest, I would rather have my neighbor own a tank instead of a government.  He let his beautiful 1976 Camaro rot in his driveway for 30 years; I know for a fact that tank would most likely rot as well, and I could sleep at night knowing that that tank isn’t being used for perpetual war.

Another argument that I think would come up would be that tanks are indiscriminate when they attack and goes beyond the realm of self defense.  But why does a tank need to be used for self defense in order to owned? Maybe you can buy a field and put a bunch of junk in it and blow it up for fun; maybe someone could pimp out the tank, and use the tank for sight seeing; or maybe you want to collect one for your museum.  A tank could certainly be used for entertainment purposes.  This also begs the question of who or what decides what a weapon of defense is and what isn’t.  The indiscriminate/self defense argument doesn’t negate private ownership at all when it comes to tanks.

I would think that an argument from a social contract point of view could be used by some people.  It could be argued that due to your presence within a certain territory, you have accepted the government and its laws through a social contract, and that means the government is allowed to have certain rights and capabilities that people can’t have.

The problem with this theory is that it is only valid if the contract is valid, and there’s many reasons to assume that is not the case.  So it’s worth asking if the Constitution is a valid document.  Surprisingly, If you are using those same arguments that Joe Biden was using — the 1st and 2nd amendment are not absolute — then the Constitution is worthless and the social contract that is backed by it is worthless also.  Not only does Mr Biden basically admit that the government can follow whatever amendments or rules that it wants, his logic refutes the existence of a social contract.

If the writings within the Constitution aren’t absolute then what’s the point of having a Constitution if the people who swore on it can change the rules of it whenever it pleases? If parts of the Constitution are not absolute — which is what Mr Biden is saying — then the whole thing isn’t absolute which means the Constitution loses all of its meaning, and the contract that was supposedly backed by it is useless.  Some could argue that just because these amendments aren’t absolute doesn’t mean that the Constitution looses all its meaning.  But the whole point of the Constitution is that it is suppose to be binding and absolute.  It’s not suppose to be a blank slate — even though it is treated like such.

The Constitution is suppose to be a binding document; if you can change what’s valid in the document and what isn’t then there was never a contract to begin with, and the Constitution itself was never valid from the start.  The conditions of a contract are not suppose to be broken, and if they ever were to be broken then the contract is voided and disregarded.  On another note, what good is a contract if one side is able to shift and change the provisions whenever it wanted? This is certainly a “contract” I would never sign or agree to.  The social contract theory is null and mute when it comes to justifying prohibition of tank ownership.

Let me make one thing clear: I’m not saying that everyone should go out and buy a tank.  In fact, its possible that many people won’t do this for various reasons even if they were permitted to buy one.  I wrote this article to explain the possible justifications of owning a tank.  The arguments for not allowing private ownership of tanks are weak and not adequate enough to prohibit citizens from owning a tank.  Hopefully I made that clear in this article.  We can conclude that private ownership of a tank isn’t that far fetch of an idea, and that there are valid reasons for allowing them for private ownership.

This article first appeared at Liberty.Me