Laws Always Mean Guns to the Face

One of the very first red pills a person swallows on the journey toward becoming a voluntaryist is the idea that every law is guaranteed by an act of violence. In our day and age, that means a gun to the face. In days past, it meant a sword, a club, or a fist. Thus begins the critical analysis of every type of government law that is proposed, passed, and enforced.

It often proceeds as follows: laws regulating the use of private property are summarily dismissed as obvious violations of liberty; laws regulating the use of one’s body are likewise summarily dismissed as obvious violations liberty; laws requiring fees for permission to do things or fines for doing the wrong thing are next; and sooner or later, laws requiring people to give a part of their income to the government and laws protecting businesses from competition are seen for what they are: extortion and protectionism.

Finally, the budding voluntaryist recognizes that the claims of territorial jurisdiction made by people who call themselves “government” are without factual merit. They are nothing more than, “Pay us and obey our rules, or else!” The commands wouldn’t be so bad if not for the “or else!” What is the “or else!”? It’s a gun to the face. Always.

Mind-bogglingly, some people at some point in this journey fail to understand that government laws always mean a gun to the face. Their argument is that because the law is not always enforced at the point of a gun, the law does not always mean a gun to the face. It is perfectly observable the fact that laws are not always enforced at gunpoint. Most people hand over their income, follow business regulations, drive the speed limit, et cetera, without any guns to their face. This is all well and good, but begs the question: why do they do this?

There are two reasons why people obey government laws: 1) to avoid a gun to their face, and 2) other self-interested reasons. The ongoing threat of a gun to the face is why laws are obeyed as a matter of law. If people calling themselves “government” were not willing to enforce their laws at gunpoint, their laws would deteriorate (as many specific laws do). Anybody seemingly obeying them at this point are not doing so to avoid a gun in the face. They are doing so for some other self-interested reason.

I don’t murder people, but not because there’s a government law that says I’m not allowed to murder people. I don’t murder because I consider murder wrong and want to avoid hurting other people, and my conscience. Same goes for speeding on the freeway. I drive the speed I’m comfortable driving. As does everyone else in the absence of speed limits. Government laws prohibiting liberties are wrong, and government laws prohibiting crimes are redundant.

One of the final red pills swallowed by the voluntaryist is the idea that people can be peaceful and cooperative in the absence of people calling themselves “government” and forcing others to pay them and obey their rules. What begins as a critical analysis of these rules rightly ends as a rejection of the people making them.

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.