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Excellent Analysis re: 2nd Amendment
The war on guns
June 28, 2004
By Joel Miller
Editor's note: Joel Miller's new book, "Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America," is available now in ShopNetDaily.com. Says Larry Elder, "Miller nails it. He powerfully and persuasively articulates the folly, the harm and the unconstitutionality of our government's War against Drugs." And Judge Andrew P. Napolitano of Fox News rules, "Read this book and send a copy to every lawmaker and judge you know." Get "Bad Trip," today in ShopNetDaily.com.
When anti-gun agitators wish to hack away support for Americans' right to keep and bear arms, they must utter only one word: crime. It's the catch-all, the single basket into which they toss all their rotten eggs. The problem of crime, they say, can be solved if we just get rid of all those danged firearms.
In "The Real War on Crime," for instance, members of the National Criminal Justice Commission note, "We know that some things work to make us safer," after which they lament that "Congress is unwilling to enact laws to significantly curtail the deadly firearms that are now available on the streets." To effectively fight crime, they say, "Our Congress needs to enact meaningful gun-control legislation at the federal level that applies to every state and locality."
The reason many of those "deadly firearms" are on the streets and being used in crimes (rather than defending the innocent from them) is that the law-abiding find it tougher to get firearms because of already existing gun-control legislation. And worse, because criminals are not real big on following laws to begin with, the statutes don't prevent them from acquiring weapons. In short, people not prone to killing others go unheeled, while thugs carry and, tragically, use firearms.
Most people around this issue with even an inkling of respect for the Second Amendment already know these facts. Outlaw guns, goes the saying, and only outlaws will have guns. What many do not realize, however, is that the war on crime used as the pretext for banning guns results directly from the war on drugs.
Take it back to the subject of gun violence. From the earliest days of drug prohibition (1914), thugs and organized crime were drawn into the trade – just as they were when alcohol was made illegal in the 1920s. And just as the liquor trade during the Ignoble Experiment, the illegal drug trade remains fraught with violence and murder.
As I explain in my new book, "Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America," gang crime flourishes under drug prohibition, as it creates all the right incentives, market and legal factors for thugs to prosper. And their bloody effects are devastating. Earlier this year, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton blamed street gangs, whose activity is currently tied almost inextricably to the drug trade, for more than half of L.A.'s annual homicide tally.
It's been this way for decades now. During the 1980s, the activity of Colombian cocaine gangs in Florida made shoot-outs and images of blood-red sidewalks almost nightly fodder for television news.
More than fodder for anchormen and journalists, however, it was also, and more ominously for gun supporters, fodder for anti-gun politicians and activists, who stepped in to propose the most unobvious solution to the problem. Scrap the assault weapons, they said, which was truly a curious tactic because even the government acknowledged that violence was only a symptom of the real problem – the underground market created by drug prohibition.
Under prohibition, notes a 1989 U.S. attorney general report, "the normal commercial concept of contracts, in which disputes are adjudicated by an impartial judiciary and restitution is almost always of a financial nature, is twisted ... into a system where the rule of law is replaced by the threat of violence." In other words, the illicit nature of the trade drives the crime. The real culprit is the law itself.
By and large, it's not the student potheads who threaten and shoot others. It's not the weekend coke sniffers who have any intention of shooting folks. Rather, as criminologist Scott Decker showed in a 1995 study using Justice Department numbers, the people in the drug biz who pack heat with deadly intention are usually dealers – the thugs.
The unobviousness of the gun-grabbers' solution is really seen here: Drug dealers are already breaking laws for which there are tremendous legal repercussions: confiscation of property, lengthy mandatory jail time, etc. What makes these people think dealers will be observant of gun laws? Maybe they're on something.
We sure were.
Conservatives who agreed with Reagan and Bush's drug-war crackdown tactics (and always complained Clinton didn't do enough) got bitten in the pants by the policy because law enforcement crackdowns did little but amplify gang violence. Not only did enforcement efforts drive gangs onto each other's turf with bloody consequences, showdowns with police got more desperate and violent as well.
As I point out in "Bad Trip," as the drug war has intensified over the decades, police and dopers have entered a Cold War-like arms race in which one side is forever trying to outgun and overpower the other. Since police are both obstacles to payday and bringers of punishment, dopers do what they must to resist them – and that means more firepower. So as violence increased, so did the calls for banning the guns we conservatives were vociferously arguing we had a Second Amendment right to keep and bear.
We didn't want thugs to have and use them, obviously, but using guns to shoot cops, rivals and innocent bystanders was already illegal. That only left banning the guns of the law-abiding in a dragnet approach to the problem. Little did we realize the seeds for banning firearms were buried in our own misguided call for drug prohibition. In trying to jail the dealers, we were feeding the Brady beast.
Much of the answer to the problem of gun violence lies in respecting all of the Constitution as much as we respect the Second Amendment. Like 90 percent of what government does today, the national charter provides no warrant for drug prohibition. But by providing an excuse for one abrogation, we've allowed the abrogation of all – especially the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment in particular.
It comes down to a simple reality: As long as the drug trade is illegal, prohibition will foster and exacerbate crime and violence. And as long as it does that, gun-control fanatics and vote-hungry politicians will be able to leverage the situation to undermine our right to keep and bear arms.
© 2004 WorldNetDaily
Joel Miller is senior editor of WND Books and author of "Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America." His own company, Oakdown, recently published "Drinking With Calvin and Luther! A History of Alcohol in the Church."