Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Total control of guns is total control of people.

Our discussion of the issues revolving around the horrific events at Virginia Tech has literally brought in tens of thousands of new readers. And in that mixture are a few who have advocated, as one of them put it, “total control” of guns. Their positions is that all weapons must be confiscated and severe penalties imposed on people who own firearms for self-defense.

There is a certain naive simplicity to that which is frightening. What they advocate is a zero tolerance policy akin to the War on Drugs, which itself was just a reincarnation of the previous total war on an evil commodity: alcohol. Obviously since both of those were such smashing successes they want to repeat the exercise.

England followed the same logic. In 1988 it first banned semiautomatic and pump-action rifles, short shotguns and a few others firearms. Law abiding citizens turned in their weapons. Criminals did not. With criminals feeling safer the number of crimes committed with guns escalated. Then the totalitarian idea of absolute control took hold. So for all practical purpose it is now virtually impossible to own a handgun in the UK. Following that ban the number of crimes committed by armed criminals jumped again.

Street gangs in various sections of the UK have no problem obtaining firearms even though they are entirely illegal. The Southwark neighborhood of London had 266 crimes committed with firearms that were reported in 2006. The Lambeth neighborhood had 239, Lewisham had 185. Apparently someone forgot to tell criminals they weren’t supposed to own firearms.

Det. Supt. Kevin Davis heads the Trident program to tackle youth/gang related crime in London. he says that more “teens are resorting to carrying or using guns.” Claudia Webber, an advisor to Trident says that in the gang culture guns are “an everyday accessory, a fashionable accessory, that young people want to be seen with.” This with what amounts to be an almost total ban. The very few loopholes that are left are not the source of firearms for gangs. Criminals almost never purchase guns legally.

Not long ago the British government conceded that one in three young criminals own or have use of a firearm. When guns were confiscated 162,000 weapons were turned in by law-abiding citizens. Apparently criminals didn’t join the queue. At the time police estimated there were 250,000 illegal guns in the UK. They now believe there are 3 million illegal firearms in the country and said “criminals are more willing than ever to use them.”

One result is that criminals in the UK are more brazen. In England 53 per cent of burglaries on homes take place while the residents are home, only 13 per cent in America take place under similar circumstance. British criminals don’t mind breaking in while people are home since they know that the residents have been disarmed. Criminals in the US are worried the homeower is armed. One result is that numerous elderly people in the UK get battered around by young thugs. A proud moment for the “total control” advocates. Yet the victim disarmament Gun Control Network calls the UK policies “the gold standard” of gun control.

The British Home Office has conceded: “We recognise there is a continuing problem with the use of guns by criminals and that it has increased over recent years.” Gold standard indeed.

The London Telegraph wrote that following the imposition of gun control “the total number of recorded crimes went up by almost 800,000 at a time when numbers in France and Germany were virtually stable and in America were falling dramatically.”

The ban on guns has meant that black market weapons smuggled into the country are plentiful. The left-leaning Guardian says that sawed-off shotguns “can now be bought illegally for between £50 and £200 according to Home Office research. A purpose-built 9mm handgun, which is easier to conceal than a shotgun, is available for £1000-£1,400 on the back streets of Britain while those wanting “a gangster image” can buy a machine gun for £800.” The paper also said “increasingly firearms had become a normal part of the systematic violence found in the street-level criminal economy. They had assumed a symbolic significance as they became associated with criminal affluence and were conflated with status and the potential for violence.” The gold standard, indeed.
British citizens are now routinely monitored by closed circuit cameras throughout their daily life. And gun crime is up, illegal weapons have increased, more people are being killed than before. If this sort of constant surveillance is not working then what sort of police state measures will be necessary to make a total ban on guns workable? Apparently the rise in crime following gun control brought about new control measures to undo the damage of gun control. The result is a society that is rapidly turning into a police state.

Let us consider a community where there is total control and see if prohibition works. In prison one has extremely limited Constitutional rights. You can be searched at any time of the day. Armed guards can ransack your living quarters at will. You are constantly being monitored by agents of the government. You eat when they tell you to eat. You are allowed to have friends visit only under the most stringent of circumstances. Your every mover is under government control. You quite literally can’t sit on the toilet and expect privacy. Yet prisoners still use illegal drugs.

Billions and billions of dollars have been spent to impose total control on illegal drugs. Across American heavily armed SWAT teams routinely carry out raids on homes of suspected “drug dealers”. They shoot to kill. Every year innocent people who were wrongly targeted are killed. But it’s “war” and they are collateral damage. Penalties for drug possession in the US are bizarrely severe. Children are encouraged in state schools to spy on their parents and turn them in to the police. There is a constant barrage of propaganda. And drug use today remains almost the same as it was when the “War on Drugs” was started.

So precisely how much more severe will police monitoring have to become to impose “total control” on guns? How much of the Bill of Rights, beyond just the 2nd Amendment, will have to be shredded in order to obtain this control? And does total control mean stripping police of firearms?

Crime will escalate under total control. First, a nation that can’t prevent tons of cocaine from entering the country can’t prevent firearms from entering. The reality is that the most violent, anti-social criminals will have guns. Only their victims will be disarmed. Perhaps even the police will be disarmed. Crime will escalate. As in the UK criminals will become more brazen and more homeowners will be hurt or killed by thugs with superior strength or firearms. Certainly the weaker members of society,those least able to fight off a hulking criminal, will become prime targets.

And there is still the annoying issue of an unarmed population and an armed government. Governments have a tendency to become oppressive. Throughout history they have slaughtered hundreds of millions of people. More people have been killed by governments in the 20th century, or by agents of the state, than by run of the mill criminals.

Disarming a population only means that if a totalitarian state arises the people are defenseless and unable to prevent their own oppression. What is worse is that the “total control” measures that will be necessary to wipe out private firearms will go a long way toward establishing that very kind of society.

And this leads, not to a slippery slope, but a free fall. How do we prevent firearms from outside a country from entering the country? Ah, the “total control” advocates will tell you that we need international controls. So the dictatorial regime necessary to wipe out private firearms will have to be a global regime. It would require authority over all nation states. The powers necessary to impose “total control” mean that they increase in scope constantly and are centralized. The end result is a massive global government that is forced by the doctrine of “total control” to monitor and regulate people in ways never before seen on this planet.

The tendency is toward dictatorship. And with the people disarmed and the massive State having vast, monopoly powers you can kiss what few remaining freedoms you have good bye. And who do our Left-wing “total control” friends think will run this state? Some kindly, benevolent, gentle soul, a reincarnation of Ghandi perhaps? Or maybe the reborn Mother Theresa? History shows that the men who rise to the top of those kind of political systems are more similar to Alberto Gonzales and George Bush than to a Ghandi. It requires a world run by the Bushs of the world with legislation that makes the Patriot Act look like child’s play.

Of course the reality is that the police won’t be disarmed at all. They will become more and more militarized in order to deal with the millions of new criminals created by a total ban on guns. And they will become more and more likely to use excessive force. So expect more and more out of control police departments. Or do we centralize their authority as well? No doubt we will with only worse results.

Now the one time in my life that a criminal, with an illegal weapon, shot at me he was using a weapon that was not exactly a Smith & Wesson. He used a weapon that was literally home made. There is no shortage of instructions on how to make your own gun at home. And now we get the mission creep inherent in all state programs.

Under the war on drugs the government has increasingly made life more and more difficult for the vast majority of Americans who don’t use illegal drugs. Grow lights help grow plants including marijuana. So people with grow lights have had their homes raided even when the plants are tomatoes. One might take certain ingredients from cold medicines and use them in producing illegal drugs. So your ability to treat your cold is severely restricted. To prevent “drug abuse” hypodermic syringes were tightly regulated. Addicts didn’t disappear, they shared needles and they, and their sexual partners, the sexual partner of their partners, became a hot house environment spreading HIV.

“Informers” who don’t exist give cops, who do exist, the names of drug dealers and innocent elderly women are murdered by armed cops. All these things take place because the state finds it must do more and more to control drugs. It must control many aspects of human life which are only tangentially related to drugs.

So now we need a government that doesn’t just regulate firearms but also regulates the tools and the materials that can be used to produce firearms. Total control would have to mean censorship to stop people from learning how to produce home-made weapons. It would mean regulating lathes which can be used, piping which can be used and so on. Just as grow lights, bongs, and rolling papers are under increasing state control a war on guns would require censorship and state control of the materials and tools that can potentially be used to produce firearms.

When antigun activists talk about “total control” to stop guns that is precisely what they mean. They want the same kind of police state mentality created by the War on Drugs but bigger, better, more powerful, more deadly. They want a police state but a police state on steroids. Perhaps some don’t want that. I doubt when the War on Drugs started the supporters in the 1960s envisioned an America riddled with prisons, violent gangs with drug monopolies in the inner cities and innocent people being gunned down by paramilitary police squads. But that is the path they chose to follow. And if you get on a road that points to a police state then don’t be shocked when you wake up in a police state. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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