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Resolved: In the United States, private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.

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Resolved: In the United States, private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.

This a great topic, and a relevant one as well. It’s good that students will get thinking about this issue. I’m a little confused, though, as to why it’s an LD topic. It seems more like a PF one. It will be tricky for debaters not to get bogged down in the practical nuances and focus on the value debate, especially with the increasingly terrible judges on the debate circuit these days. In any case, let’s do it.


Private ownership of handguns – This is individual people privately owning handguns. Don’t get caught up in the nuances of what this means, but rather the principle behind it. Keep this definition simple.

Banned – This means that said private ownership will not be legally permitted. Again, the nuances of what the punishment will be and how it will be enforced are irrelevant.

Case Positions


1. Utilitarianism – Gun ownership is bad. It leads to people being harmed. Empirically, countries all around the world have demonstrated that restricting gun ownership leads to less death. Therefore, we should ban private gun ownership.

2. Veil of Ignorance – I know I use this a lot here, but it’s a great position. If you put everyone behind a veil of ignorance, then people would vote that nobody has any guns.

3. The Categorical Imperative – Gun ownership violates 2 of the 3 maxims of the categorical imperative. Therefore, it should be banned.


1. The Constitution – This is a fairly weak argument in my opinion, but it’s on here because a lot of people will be running it. The right to bear arms is in the U.S. Constitution, and that is the document which should determine what the U.S. government ought to do.

2. Property Rights – Banning private gun ownership is a violation of individual property rights. The government does not have the authority to violate these individual rights.

3. Mutually Assured Destruction – Banning private gun ownership exposes a population to dangers. MAD theory dictates that, if everybody is armed, then nobody will fire the first shot because everyone else will be prepared to destroy them.

I hope that helps, good luck!

19 thoughts on “Resolved: In the United States, private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.”

  1. Kritikal says:

    Would you be able to frame a biopower K or something like? if so what would you say and what side?

    1. Ace says:

      Hi Kritikal,

      I’m not sure what you mean by a biopower K? How do you run a kritik of the resolution based on biopower? Can you elaborate a little? Then I’ll be able to better address your question.

      1. Kritikal says:

        We are losing one of our rights to the state. So we give the state too much power lover our lives.

        1. Ace says:

          Hi Kritikal,

          That’s not really a kritik. A kritik is supposed to criticize the resolution as not viable because of the way it’s worded or structured. What you have proposed in just a simple negative framework. You would have to prove that ownership of guns is a right, and that losing that right is too much of a concession to the government.

  2. Kritikal says:


    What Kritiks would be available to run on this topic? How would you frame a Kritik?

    1. Ace says:

      That’s a very broad question Kritikal. I personally hate kritiks. I think they’re very weak positions which are easy to pick apart. I actually never lost to a kritik in all my time debating. That being said, I actually don’t think there is a viable kritik option for this resolution, at least not one that I can think of. There are a few theory positions, but they aren’t very compelling. Hopefully someone else can respond to this comment with a good idea.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What counterplans best work on neg when encountering a util framework or what good counterplans are there along with their net benefits?

  4. Sophie says:

    These are great ideas!! I have a question about how to take down one of them:

    If I’m aff, what would be the best way for me to rebut constitutionality if the neg is running it?

    1. Ace says:

      Hi Sophie,

      The best rebuttal really depends on the specifics of the case you’re debating. In general, though, the problem with the law argument is that the law is not an absolute source of morality. Slavery was permitted by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why amendments exist. Maybe it’s time we got rid of the 2nd?

  5. Tommy says:

    Can you please explain which two maxims that private handgun ownership ultimately violates within Categorical Imperative? Similarly, for Veil of Ignorance, wouldn’t you want to have more rights overall and thus would want to be allowed to have handguns? Thanks!

    1. Ace says:

      Sure, handgun ownership is not universalizable. Despite you wanting to have a handgun, you can’t say that everyone should have one. It also doesn’t strive toward an end in the kingdom of ends. There is no higher level moral good that private handgun ownership leads us toward.

      As for the Veil of Ignorance, you wouldn’t want to have more rights overall. If you could wake up tomorrow and be anybody in society, you would want the society that caters to everyone in the best way. If nobody has guns, then your society is better off.

  6. Matt says:

    I’m trying to take the property rights approach. I can’t seem to find any direct evidence for it though… any help you can give and/or any tips on how I should run it? I was planning on doing the Locke social contract and the government has the obligation to protect our property not destroy it

    1. Ace says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’m not sure what you mean by direct evidence. Do you want to quote someone saying that restricting gun ownership is violating property rights? That’s not really evidence, just someone repeating what you’re saying. I like the Lockean position on this. You can use Locke to help establish the importance of property, but you need to make the final argument yourself.

  7. Grace Birch says:

    What philosopher would be good run with the Mutually Assured Destruction point you have above?

    1. Ace says:

      Plato and Hobbes are both good. For a more advanced perspective, Nietzsche is also a good one. They all approach the question a little differently, but all of them explain why human nature is such that MAD is a viable theory.

  8. Danniel says:

    You say Plato, Hobbes and Nietzsche are good philosophers. Where would I be able to find some works. One of the hardest things for me to find, is stuff from philosophers. So how would you recommend to find stuff??

    1. Ace says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Fortunately, these guys have all been dead for a while, so their works are available for free online. Leviathan, Beyond Good and Evil, Genealogy of Morals, The Republic, etc… can all be found online. You just have to do a quick Google search. I recommend learning about the philosophers first on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (also available online) and then going and reading their works.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do you think you could outline some pro and con arguments for this topic as if it were a PF topic? Any help would be welcome.

    1. Ace says:

      Well, I think you can pretty easily transplant the LD style arguments to a PF case. I’ve used the categorical imperative, veil of ignorance, and utilitarianism all as frameworks for PF cases. The key is just explaining why the framework dictates that you win.

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