Gun control vs. invading Iraq

January 9, 2007 | By | 6 Replies More

People who support the war in Iraq argue that the invasion (what George Bush euphemistically called “preemption”) was necessary because Saddam might have become a terrorist threat; i.e., he might have acquired and used Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Similarly, people who support a ban on assault rifles argue that the ban is necessary because anyone who acquires such a weapon might also pose a terrorist threat.  Yet, paradoxically, although the two arguments use identical reasoning, the people who support the first argument (that invading Iraq was good) are often the same people who oppose the second one (that assault rifles should be banned).  This raises the question:  why is preemption an appropriate strategy for dealing with potential terrorists from Iraq, but an inappropriate strategy for dealing with potential terrorists from America?

Of course, the answer we would expect to this question is that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms, but did not protect Iraq from invasion.  However, nothing in the Second Amendment suggests it was ever meant to give Americans the right to own weapons of mass destruction (in the form of military assault rifles).

Accordingly, the question remains:  if Iraq can be “preempted” from acquiring and using WMDs, why shouldn’t Americans be “preempted” from acquiring and using them?

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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (6)

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  1. Dan says:

    Because that would be unconstitutional and you obviously hate America for even suggesting it. Godless scum.

    How's my neo-con impression?

  2. Jason Rayl says:

    This perrenial issue is historically a matter of practicality. When that amendment was put in place, it was intended as an element of civil defense, and assumed states would enact their own regulatory matters (which was how Wyatt earp could legally ban firearms from Tombstone). The issue of WMD is of recent provenance, because until after WWI and the advent of the so-called Tommy Gun (a .45 calbiber machine gun, known lovingly as a Trench Sweeper), what the army could buy was often exactly the same as what the citizen could buy, with one or two exceptions (namely artillery). There was, in fact, parity. After WWI that gradually became not true.

    But it is an issue of degree over kind. What's the difference functionally between an AR15 and an M16? The stock and the full auto capability. Otherwise, they are the same weapon, but one LOOKS like a military rifle, the other does not.

    Disarming private populations within the United States has occured in the past, namely during the Civil War with the evocation of martial law, which presumes exactly the same conditions on the ground as now exist in Iraq. Iraq (never mind why, since we all know) does not have a functional civil authority. We do. Therefore, gunownership becomes a matter of legal debate rather than a question of military prerogative.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    To roughly paraphrase a passage drom an english translation of Sun Tsu's "The Art of War",

    The purpose of the military is to protect the people from their enemies. The purpose of the police is to protect the people from each other.

    When the military become the police, the people become the enemy.

    Preemptive action is bad. Period.

    It is Texas sharp shootin' at its finest. (see the note)

    Pre-emptive law enforcement, also violates the guiding principle of our legal system… Innocent until proven guilty.

    Of course many people fail to realize how the multinational corporations have influence our legal system in the past few decades, encouraging things like the Homeland Security Act and other legislation that presumes the accused as Guilty even if proven innocent.

    Note: The Texas sharp-shooter story is about a drunk that would randomly shoot at things, then find the bullet holes and draw bullseyes around them.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Pre-emptive law enforcement has other difficulties, in addition to the ones Niklaus mentions. For example, if you pre-empt a crime, then what is a reasonable and logical punishment? How do you 'make the punishment fit the crime' if the crime never happened? And how close to committing the crime does the person need to go before the police are actually "pre-empting" a crime?

    For example, let's say "George" is thinking about blowing up a building as a terrorist act. At what point can you arrest him and charge him with a crime? When he draws up plans on a cocktail napkin? When he rents a van to carry the explosives? When he buys fertilizer and a drum of gasoline? When he builds the bomb? When he parks the van in front of a building? What if he sits there for an hour thinking about it? What if you arrest him then and he claims, at his trial, that he had changed his mind? Should he go free? Do your answers to these questions change if "George" is a farmer, already owns a van, and routinely buys fertilizer and gasoline for his farming operation? Do your answers change if the suspect's name is "Muhammad," he belongs to an Islamic religious organization, and he is an outspoken critic of American society?

    For each of these points in time, what should the punishment be if the person is convicted of an attempted terrorist act? If he was only at the stage of drawing plans on a cocktail napkin, should the punishment be the same as if he had been arrested while holding the detonator in his hand inside his explosive-packed van outside the building?

    Does it help to know that of all the "detainees," "unlawful combatants," and others who have been arrested and imprisoned under the "pre-emption" policy, not one has been convicted of a crime? Does it surprise you that the government has been very quiet about the few who have been tried and who were declared to be not guilty?

    The Bush Administration claims to be "winning the war on terrorism," but except for the tiny handful of people who actually did commit terrorist or other criminal acts, and who have been convicted and sent to prison, the Bushites have not convicted anybody. All they have done is to lock suspects up without a trial — hardly a sweeping endorsement for their pre-emption policy, or for their claim to be "protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States."

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    Sometimes it amazes me how absurd Republicans can be. Every year, about 10,000 gun homicides occur in the U.S., usually including several well-publicized mass shootings. In response to this staggering death toll (every year, more than three times the 9/11 attack), Republicans insist that we cannot ban any guns (e.g., assault rifles); alternatively, we cannot ban any sub-categories of gun-related items (e.g., high capacity magazines, armor-piercing bullets, etc.); alternatively, we cannot have background checks for people who want to buy guns; and, above all, we cannot judge all gun owners by the actions of the thousands of murderers who use guns every year in the U.S.

    Now, consider what virtually all of those same Republicans have said in response to last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris, which killed about 130 people and reportedly involved a single person who entered France posing as a Syrian refugee (of the 4 million+ Syrians who have fled their country): we must ban all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.; alternatively, we must ban all non-Christian Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.; alternatively, we must have rigorous background checks for all Syrian refugees entering the U.S.; and, above all, we must judge all Syrian refugees by the actions of the one-mass-murderer-in-four-million who participated in the Paris attack.

    Does anyone else see the breathtaking absurdity of their argument?

    • Edgar Montrose says:

      Arm the refugees with assault rifles; all of the logical objections cancel-out. Observe the Conservative cognitive dissonance.

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